Bearded dragons and blue-tongued skinks are friendly domesticated lizards that can each be a wonderful addition to the home. However, resource constraints like time and money may force many potential owners to choose between one of them.
This article discusses the topic “bearded dragon or blue-tongued skink: The Ultimate Guide To Choose!” by uncovering the positives and negatives of both. This could make the choice process easier for would-be owners.
Bearded Dragon or Blue-Tongued Skink
Bearded dragons are a solid choice for those that prefer a highly active pet lizard that is friendly to their owners and even strangers. Blue-tongued skinks are extremely intelligent and can recognize humans by face. Their personality is relatively more relaxed unlike beardies that are always active.
Shall we delve into the differences between the two friendly pet lizards by considering their individual attributes and requirements to determine which one works best for potential owners?
Blue-tongued skinks stand out thanks to their signature colored tongue that act as a defensive shield to scare off predators. They appear in grayish bodies with brown or caramel stripes in addition to many physical characteristics common in snakes. Blue-tongued skinks lack climbing abilities due to their short legs and are limited to clambering as a result.
Bearded dragons appear in brown or yellowish colors with spots and scales in different areas of the body. Beardies have a scaly chin that puffs up when they feel threatened and these lizards are available in numerous colorful morphs thanks to crossbreeding.
The standard length of blue-tongued skinks in adulthood is 24 inches which typically takes around 12 months to reach. But, some breeds need 24 months to obtain their maximum length since growth may be slow during the first year.
The average size of adult bearded dragons is 24 inches depending on factors like genetics and feeding. Dwarf beardies are some of the smallest breeds available reaching a maximum size of approximately 14 inches, unlike the German Giant breeds that measure at least 22 inches.
Feeding is the least of an owner’s concerns when raising blue-tongued skinks because their appetite declines as they grow older. These omnivorous lizards require daily feeding from their time as hatchlings until they reach 5 months old.
Blue-tongued skinks eat once every 2 days at 6 to 10 months old while those over 10 months typically require feeding no more than twice a week. The average blue-tongued skink eats 1-2 tablespoons of food per serving but younger breeds should be offered more protein than adults.
Protein should make up no more than 40 percent of their diets to prevent excessive pressure on the liver and other internal organs. Diets should be rich in green leafy vegetables and fruits with protein sources like insects acting as supplements.
Lean meats like poultry and hardboiled eggs as well as vertebrates such as slugs may act as additional protein sources. Premium dog food and cat food for younger skinks can also come in handy as an occasional treat.
Bearded dragon diets are restricted to green leafy vegetables and insects alongside a mix of fresh fruits. Unlike the skinks, adult beardies eat 1-2 times daily while hatchlings have higher feeding requirements of up to 4x daily.
Young beardies need high amounts of proteins to stimulate growth and it is not uncommon to feed up to 100 live or freeze-dried insects to meet their nutritional needs. They slow down on the insect diets after reaching adulthood when the focus shifts to green leaves and fresh fruits.
Feeding both pet lizards gets easier as they grow because their nutritional needs become simpler. Although beardies still require daily feeding, unlike blue-tongued skinks, finding greens and fruits is always much easier compared to insects like crickets and roaches.
Blue-tongued skinks thrive in 55-gallon tanks or larger to guarantee the freedom to move around without problems. Large-sized tanks also accommodate their bells and whistles to create a perfect habitat that mimicks wild conditions as much as possible.
Bearded dragons also require 55-gallon tanks to stay productive and happy in captivity. Their highly active nature leads to constant movements in their tanks. A natural love for climbing means the standard dimensions of 48 inches x 13 inches x 21 inches provide just the right amount of room to add the necessary substrates and tank materials for comfort day and night.
Blue-tongued skinks are not the easiest to breed because females are more selective and do not hesitate to reject the male’s advances. This could postpone breeding to at least the next season which may be derailing for commercial breeders.
Males achieve sexual maturity at 12 months old but it takes 24 months for female skinks to become sexually mature. The average blue-tongued skink produces a litter size of up to 15 live births.
Experts recommend waiting until male bearded dragons reach 18-24 months before attempting to breed although sexual maturity is usually achieved by month 10. Females should be bred at 24 months old and unlike other lizards, they are able to lay eggs even in the absence of males although such eggs are infertile.
Bearded dragons are easy to breed and lay up to 40 eggs per clutch 2 to 5 times each year. This can ensure higher beardie offspring numbers making these lizards a more profitable venture for commercial breeders.
The majority of blue-tongued skinks brumate during the low-temperature months in the winter except for the Indonesian and Australian breeds that may skip brumation despite the cold climate. The brumation period could last anywhere from 1 to 3 months.
Bearded dragons also brumate during winter to protect resources although it is not guaranteed in every breed. Brumation often lasts between 2-3 months depending on the prevailing temperature conditions.
Blue-tongued skinks are an epitome of friendliness, especially in breeds like the Blotched, Irian, Jaya, Northern, and Shinglebacks. Only a few varieties such as the Tanimbars are known for having a feisty personality characterized by regular hissing and other forms of aggression.
Blue-tongued skinks are also popular thanks to their superior intelligence and ability to recognize their owners. They love snuggling owners when allowed out of their tanks so do not be surprised when these pet lizards sit on your laps. Blue-tongues require regular socialization to bring out their friendly traits unless you’d rather watch them hide and burrow all day.
Bearded dragons are easy to handle due to their friendly nature and are famous for climbing and engaging in other forms of physical contact in the presence of owners. They usually begin scratching their tank glass as a cry for help to get out of there.
Bearded dragons are great for adults and kids ready to spend time and provide other essential care requirements.
The average lifespan of blue-tongued skinks is 15 to 20 years although it is not impossible to find breeds that live up to 25 years when excellent care is provided.
Bearded dragons average 10 to 15 years when offered the right level of care in terms of housing, nutrition, and veterinary attention. This essentially means the average blue-tongued skink lives longer than a beardier.
Blue-tongued skinks are not fragile by any means in terms of health but could be susceptible to conditions like:
- Respiratory infections
- Metabolic bone diseases
- External and internal infections
- Mouth rot
- Scale rot
- Spinal deformities
Bearded dragons have strong immune systems to stave off diseases and infections but can also succumb to:
- Physical injuries
- Metabolic bone disease
- Mineral/vitamin deficiencies
- Internal and skin infections
Both pet lizards require proper veterinary care and sanitized tank setups to enjoy healthy lives. Careful observation by owners could reveal signs of illness for the right treatments to be prescribed after booking a trip to the vet.
Blue-tongued skinks are not the most complicated pet lizards to raise even for novices. Their dietary requirements are simple and as long as they are placed in the right-sized vivarium, the only remaining concerns are humidity, lighting, and heating.
Bearded dragons are also great for beginner owners willing to master the art of providing the right heating and lighting in addition to meeting their dietary requirements. Feeding may be a bit complicated during infancy when higher protein amounts are required but it gets easier with age.
Biting and Other Dangers
Blue-tongued skinks are famous for their docile personality resulting in minimal risks of aggressive behaviors like bites. Hyperactive and stressed blue-tongued skinks should be left alone to lower the risk of suffering bites.
Failure to wash the hands after feeding these lizards can increase the risks of accidental bites which could be painful and may result in profuse bleeding.
Biting is also uncommon in bearded dragons because they are extremely relaxed but avoid provocations when they are agitated or feel threatened. Bearded dragon bites could lead to extreme discomfort and even bleeding.
Blue-tongued skinks are diurnal creatures that sleep during the night and become active in the daytime. Unlike nocturnal and crepuscular animals, finding time to bond with these creatures is usually not too difficult for the majority of owners.
Bearded dragons are active during the daytime and go to bed around 9 pm. This offers various playtime opportunities even for owners that spend the whole day at work.
Blue-tongued skinks are cold-blooded creatures that require high basking temperatures ranging from 95 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. UVB lighting of 10% to 12% is required during the daytime to provide more heat.
They thrive in environments with 30 to 40 percent humidity but some Indonesian varieties like the Halmahera are an exception due to their 100 percent humidity level requirements.
Bearded dragons are also cold-blooded like most reptiles and require basking temperatures of 92 F to 110 F. However, the majority thrive in humidity levels of 30 to 40 percent.
The majority of blue-tongued skink species display aggressive traits when paired up in the same enclosure except for the male and female Shingleback varieties that live together without problems. Limited success has also been reported in the Blotched and Eastern blue-tongued skink breeds.
Bearded dragons should be housed solo to eliminate the risks of fights and severe injuries to each other. Newborns may be housed together but make sure to separate them before they are a few weeks old.
Blue-tongued skinks are not the cleanest pets out there due to their penchant for pooping everywhere. They ease themselves in different areas in the tank as well as in water making daily cleaning to eliminate leftover foods, water, and poop non-negotiable for owners who desire bacteria-free environments.
Bearded dragons have similar defecation habits but the majority of owners create custom pooping routines by placing these pet lizards in water. This offers deeper relaxation to stimulate pooping while enabling easier waste disposal.
Beardie tanks should be cleaned daily to eliminate leftover food, water, and other components that could breed bacteria and other disease-causing organisms.
Wild blue-tongued skinks are famous for tail dropping in stressful situations but the habit is uncommon in domesticated breeds. Puffing up, hissing, and hiding are the main signs of stress in these adorable pet lizards.
Bearded dragons have no tail-dropping habits making their care easy for those dabbling in pet lizards for the first time.
Blue-tongued skinks may cost up to $300 in the initial setup phase assuming standard morphs are purchased. Feeding costs plus electricity and heating could reach $30 per month. Fixtures like UVB lights often require replacement after every 6 months.
Bearded dragons are slightly more expensive to raise because it can cost up to $40 per week to feed younger breeds. The budget for feeding adults is approximately $40 per month in addition to electricity and heating costs of up to $10 monthly.
Conclusion: Bearded Dragon or Blue-Tongued Skink
Bearded dragons and blue-tongued skinks could be great pet lizard options depending on one’s needs and lifestyle. Beardies require more attention because they have a great personality while blue-tongued skinks are more relaxed and shy.
Bearded dragons require feeding 2-4 times daily in infancy but the frequency reduces to once per day in adulthood. Blue-tongued skinks eat only 2-3 times per week as adults although infants may require more frequent food.
The costs of setting up both pet lizards hover around 250 to $300 but beardies can be more expensive to raise in the long term due to higher monthly food bills.