New Blue Tongues at TwistED – Aimee

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Over the past few weeks, we have welcomed 2 new baby blue tongue lizards into our family here at TwistED. To celebrate this, I thought I would write a blog about all the in’s and outs of raising a blue tongue and hopefully we can learn together to optimise the health of lizards all around!

 

Natural Instincts

 

Even though these lizards have always known life in captivity, they still carry many natural instincts as to how life would be in the wild, and what they feel the need to do in an act of fear. Although this can sometimes be new to us, it is important to respect their instincts. At the beginning of my journey with the lizards I found it hard to accept they would be just as new to this as I was. As a result, their instinct to hiss when frightened used to scare me, however you soon learn how to work with this and avoid their reasoning for being scared.

As you may already know, blue tongue lizards are known not so much for climbing but more for burrowing. They love to hide behind bushes, under dirt and around rocks and logs. Blue tongues are said to have more aggressive nature, however by taming them they can outgrow this. You may find it interesting to know lizards have a third eye on top of their head which detects motion – I learnt this to be the reason for some of their hissing along with the process of shedding.

When scared, these lizards will hiss and flatten out their stomach region to make themselves appear bigger to fend off predators. I found this a confusing mechanism as they may also flatten out their belly to get a larger surface area when they are trying to absorb more heat. They may also stick out their blue tongue which can be a sign of poison to other animals.

 

The Enclosure

 

As for the enclosure I wanted to incorporate lots of the materials they would find in their natural habitat, such as logs, rocks, shrubs, bark, etc. to ensure they felt as ‘at home’ as possible. As a bottom substrate I used a really fine eucalyptus mulch which is good for burrowing and hiding. I added all of my hidey places in the spots I think looks most appealing for you guys to view and also for the lizards to feel at home.

Lizards are ectothermic, which means they get all their heat from external sources such as the sun. This means incorporating a heat lamp is vital in the overall health and well-being of your lizard. As well as a heat lamp, I included a UV-B globe which replicates the rays of the sun to ensure they are getting the vitamin D they require for optimal growth and full body function.

 

Feeding/Water

 

Like most of our animals here at TwistED, lizards love a variety of foods throughout the week. Just like us, we get sick of the same food every day. And if you’re like me, you like a treat every now and then… and so do lizards! These guys will need a protein source, such as mealworms or beetles, along with fruit and vegetables, like pumpkin. I find when they are younger protein is more important, and vegetables should be offered every 2-3 days, with fruit maybe once a week (as this is a treat). Of course, these guys need water too. Water should be offered in a shallow dish and should be changed and cleaned every day as they also like to walk through this.

 

Handling/Taming

 

Keeping a lizard as a pet, you want them to be as friendly as possible so that they feel comfortable and you feel confident with their behavior. Getting a blue tongue at a young age is better, so they have more time to adjust to you and you can train them almost instantly to things such as your voice, feeding preferences and habitat. I found that picking up the lizards from underneath their belly is the best way for 2 reasons; they can feel what is going on and know it’s nothing to be afraid of. Also putting your hand above their head can frighten them, and they can easily freak out.

Handling and talking to your lizard everyday is a good way of getting both you and your pet used to each other, and the idea of being handled and becoming more friendly. I tend to avoid holding them when they are shedding lots, as they already have lots going on and need the time to shed.