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Blue-Tongued Skink Complete Lighting and Heating Guide

Blue-Tongued Skink Complete Lighting and Heating Guide

What’s The Proper/Best Lighting Setup For Blue-Tongued Skinks?

The correct lighting setup for a Blue-Tongued Skink will depend on the enclosure that you use for your Skink, your ambient household temperatures, and the type of Skink you own. Before delving into the best options for your Skink, you should know whether your Skink is an Australian blue tongue, or an Indonesian blue tongue.

Your Skinks enclosure should allow ample space for your lizard to move entirely into a warm basking area, and also into a cool area. Since Skinks are medium-long lizards, their cage should be at least 4’ in length to provide the proper thermal gradient.

Do Blue-Tongued Skinks Need UVB?

Blue-Tongued Skinks have been kept and bred without the use of UVB lighting for many years, so we know that they do not require UVB for survival. However, Blue-Tongued Skinks are diurnal lizards, meaning they are out during the day, and therefore are receiving UVB exposure in their natural habitat. Although blue tongues can survive only being given dietary vitamin D3, it is much more natural to offer them the ability to bask in UV lighting. It has been proven that reptiles can see UV light, and UVB aids in digestion, photoperiod regulation, and vitamin absorption. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to offer your blue tongue access to an appropriate strength UVB light.

Do Blue-Tongued Skinks Need Heat At Night?

It is healthy and natural for Blue-Tongued Skinks to experience lower temperatures at night, as they would in the wild. Blue-Tongued Skinks should never have their lights left on all night as this would interrupt their circadian rhythm. If your house drops below 65-70º at night, using a thermostat controlled heat source that does not produce light, such as a ceramic heat emitter, is a good idea. Thermostats should be set to still allow for an overall drop in temperature at night, but as a safeguard in case your home temperature drops too low.

It has been proven that reptiles can see the lights given off by red, blue, and black bulbs. Do not use colored bulbs on your reptile at night as this will disrupt their day/night cycle.

Blue-Tongued Skink Complete Lighting and Heating Guide lighting for a blue tongued skink reptile enclosure

Lighting, Temperatures & Humidity

Blue-tongued Skinks are diurnal, which means that they are most active during daylight hours and may spend several hours a day basking. This also means that they are stimulated by the presence of bright white light in their environment, and benefit from daylight spectrum LED, overhead infrared heat, and access to UVB.


To get the correct strength of UVB, distance to the lizard, bulb strength, and potential mesh obstruction must be considered. To provide the appropriate UVI level for a blue-tongue Skink, you will need a T5 light long enough to span half of the enclosure and placed on the warm side of the enclosure. Using a UVI reader, the UVI output should read between 3.0-4.0 around the basking area. Here is a rough guide for distance if you do not have access to a UVI meter:

With mesh obstruction:

  • Arcadia T5 HO Forest 6% — 6-9″ / 16-23cm
  • Zoo Med T5 HO Reptisun 5.0 — 6-9″ / 16-23cm
  • Arcadia T5 HO Desert 12% — 12-15″ / 31-38cm
  • Zoo Med T5 HO Reptisun 10.0 — 12-15″ / 31-38cm

Without mesh obstruction:

  • Arcadia T5 HO Forest 6% — 11-12″ / 28-30cm
  • Zoo Med T5 HO Reptisun 0 — 11-12″ / 28-30cm
  • Arcadia T5 HO Desert 12% — 17-18″ / 43-45cm
  • Zoo Med T5 HO Reptisun 10.0 — 17-18″ / 43-45cm

*This data is based on measurements taken by Chris Phillips, using the VE Electronics T5HO Fixture


Humans are warm-blooded, which means that our body temperature is automatically regulated. Blue-tongued Skinks, however, are cold-blooded, which means that they have to move between areas of different temperatures to regulate their body temperature.

Skinks warm up by basking under the sun in the wild. In captivity, they do best with a halogen heat lamp, which is the closest we can offer to the sun’s rays.

  • Basking surface: 105-115°F (40-46°C)
  • Cool:
    • Australian species — 70-85°F (21°-29°C)
    • Indonesian species — 75-85°F (24-29°C)
  • Nighttime:
    • Australian species — 65-75°F (18°-24°C)
    • Indonesian species — 70-75°F (21-24°C)

Generally speaking, 100w PAR38 halogen flood bulbs should be plenty to achieve those basking temperatures in a 24” tall enclosure. However, if you notice that they’re getting too hot, dial it down with a plug-in lamp dimmer. If your basking area is too cool, you will need higher wattage bulbs, a cluster of bulbs, or you can bring the basking spot closer to the lamps by offering a slightly raised surface or hill, or the lamps closer to the basking spot by mounting the lighting inside of the enclosure. A piece of slate placed under the basking spot will aid in heat absorption and is a wonderful basking area for your Skink

To measure the basking surface temperature, use an infrared thermometer (a.k.a. temperature gun). To passively track basking temperature, use a digital probe thermometer, with the probe placed on the basking surface under the heat source. The Etekcity 774 is a good infrared thermometer, and most reptile-brand digital probe thermometers function well.

Blue-tongued skink in a Zen Habitats reptile enclosure


Maintaining the right humidity is important for helping your Skink shed easily, as well as prevent illnesses like respiratory infections. As a general rule, Australian species thrive around 40% humidity, and Indonesian species require 60-80% humidity.

  • gigas evanescens (Merauke) — 60-80%
  • gigas gigas (Classic Indonesian) — 60-80%
  • gigas gigas (Halmahera) — 70-100%
  • gigas keyensis (Kei Island) — 60-80%
  • nigrolutea (Blotched) — 40-50%
  • multifasciata (Centralian) — 20-40%
  • occipitalis (Western) — 20-40%
  • scincoides chimaera (Tanimbar) — 60-80%
  • scincoides intermedia (Northern) — 40-60%
  • scincoides scincoides (Eastern) — 40-60%
  • rugosa (Shingleback) — 20-40%
  • sp. (Irian Jaya) — 60-80%

(Referenced from

About the author: Maddie Smith Maddie has been keeping reptiles as pets for more than a decade. She has a passion for educating others about animals, and currently works with over 50 different species including reptiles, amphibians, and birds!

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