Often referred to as the dogs of the lizard world, blue-tongued skinks have loads of personality, the curiosity that drives the most intrepid explorers, ears that perk at the sound of movement in the kitchen and an expressive gaze that notices when you've come in the room. Though this lizard is an extremely quiet pet, now and then you can expect to hear some sounds from his direction.
Showing Who's Boss
When you hear a hissing sound from your otherwise tame skink, he's usually just acting like a big lizard. He might not like the fact that you pulled him out of his tank when he wasn't ready or he might not appreciate that the family dog is sniffing around his play space. He might just have the habit of making grunting noises. But a hissing sound, an open mouth, the display of his signature blue tongue and possibly a puffing up of his body all mean that it's a good idea to let your skink alone or risk being bitten. With time and familiarity with your skink's personality you'll know when he's making a hissing sound as a bluff and when he's really sending a signal that he wants to be left alone. If hissing is uncharacteristic of your skink, check with your vet to ensure that no underlying medical condition is causing your pet pain.
Blowing His Nose
Occasionally you may hear a hard sniff, snort or exhaling sound from your skink that's distinct from a hiss; he doesn't feel threatened and may just be hanging out in his enclosure or exploring around the living room carpet. Your lizard's nostrils face to either side and your blue-tongued skink loves to burrow, so it's natural that he'll have to expel dust now and then the only way he knows how. For example, he might be getting used to a new paper-based substrate in his tank, reflexively snorting at the unexpected dusty feeling. Be sure that the sniffing isn't accompanied by nasal discharge. If the hard exhalation sounds are chronic or your skink's nose is runny, make an appointment with your vet.
Does it sound as if somebody's scratching at the door or squeaking on the side of glass? Your blue-tongued skink has a pointy, tiny nail on each toe of his little feet. When he's out exploring or climbing up against the side of his glass tank, you may hear the squeaking or scraping of his nails. Keep an eye on these nails to make sure that they're not getting too long, interfering with his walking or curling under and poking into his toe. If you hear your skink pawing at the wall of his tank often or hear his body clunking against the glass wall, be sure he's in a big enough tank with room to turn around and has hiding or climbing spots to keep him occupied.
Listen to Your Skink
Since skinks are so quiet, you'll have to be on the lookout for other cues that your lizard is trying to tell you something. Struggling or thrashing when you pick him up likely means you're not supporting his body correctly and he feels scared that he might fall. Perking his head and intently watching something or someone means he's curious about what he's seeing or hearing and may want to explore at greater length. Spending all his time on the cool end of his tank is his way of telling you that the warm end is a bit too hot (or vice versa). Closing his eyes and relaxing his chin as you hold him along your forearm tells you he's relaxed, content and trusting you.
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