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How To Tell If A Blue Tongue Skink Is Dying

Do you know how to tell if a blue tongue skink is dying? Needless to answer. In this article we’ll explain all blue tongue skink dying signs and what you need to do to remedy your pet before it gets worse. Some of these signs include wrinkly skin, slimy saliva, lose of appetite, etc.

Blue tongue skinks are fascinating creatures that can be found in the southern regions of Australia, and many other parts of the world. They’re a popular pet for reptile enthusiasts because they’re easy to care for and enjoy spending time with their owners. 

It is important for owners of these animals to know how to spot the signs of a dying blue tongue skink. This article contains the most frequent signs, how to detect, avoid, and treat them before it’s too late.

This article has been reviewed by Dr. Dilber. Read more about our knowledge control process here.

Why Did Your Blue Tongue Skink Die Suddenly?

As a skink owner or caretaker, you must understand and offer your pet the care they require. Otherwise, it may cause health issues and even death. The sudden death of a lizard could be of many possible reasons, but listed below are the main and most reported:

  • Soft Tissue Wounds
  • Internal Parasites
  • Metabolic Bone Disease

Soft Tissue Wounds

Soft tissue injuries (STIs) occur when muscles, tendons, or ligaments are injured due to trauma or overuse. Reptile wounds heal far more slowly than human wounds. If it were contaminated by physical debris or dirt, bacteria and other microorganisms from the environment are likely to be present. This raises the risk of morbidity and mortality, as well as the possibility of death.

Vet answer: Due to slower rate of healing in the blue tongue skinks, the wounds get deeper and may get infected due to contaminations. The spread of wound infection into the internal organs leads to tissue and organ failure leading to death.

Internal Parasites

Internal parasites like roundworms and coccidia reside within the gastrointestinal system. Parasites such as cocci cause intestinal ulcers leading to internal bleeding.

In general, parasitized reptiles and amphibians live shorter, are more prone to illness, and have a less attractive look. If left untreated, parasite infections can result in severe morbidity and mortality. 

How To Tell If A Blue Tongue Skink Is Dying
An infected blue tongue skink gasping

Metabolic Bone Disease

In reptiles, metabolic bone disease (MBD) generally occurs when phosphorus levels are too high and calcium or vitamin D levels are too low in the diet.

The symptoms differ depending on the age and severity of the sickness. You can read more in 11 Must Know About Blue Tongue Skink Health Issues, Diseases, Illnesses. The most common signs are thin, easily fractured bones, which reduce the skink’s activity level. 

How To Tell If A Blue Tongue Skink Is Dying: 8 Signs Of A Blue Tongue Skink In Dying

Because most lizards have a slow metabolism and a natural tendency to hide ailments, it’s extremely difficult to discover a sickness. Signs can be detected when compared to their normal behavior.

The majority of health issues in blue-tongue lizards are caused by a problem with their daily maintenance which can be treated or avoided.

Lack Of Appetite/Not Eating

Generally, not eating adequate amounts of survival food may lead to nutrient inadequacies, health complications, and death. The related diseases are internal parasitic infection, mouth rot infection, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, and MBD.

Sick blue tongue skink refusing to eat


  • Low temperature in the tank
  • Lack of bright light and/or UVB
  • Breeding period
  • Bored with food
  • Stress
  • Dehydration
  • Overfeeding
  • Adult age
  • Illness


  • Not eating enough as compared to usual intake
  • Unwilling to eat or drink
  • Wrinkly skin
  • Slimy saliva


A blue tongue skink needs high temperatures to digest its food. Proper temperature increases the palatability of food. If the basking spot is not reaching 95-105 degrees Fahrenheit, then it could be due to low ambient levels in your home or office space where you keep them as well.

When bringing one into cold environments outside its natural range, there must be plenty of enough room. Monitor closely how much heat sources such as lamps/heaters will provide before adding any additional.

Maintaining a healthy temperature for these types of lizards can help guarantee that they’re going to eat more often and stay happy longer.

Not Pooping

Fecal impaction may develop with prolonged constipation. It can cause grave illness or death if not treated.


  • The tank may be too cold
  • Not eating enough
  • Impaction/constipation
  • No activity
  • Shedding
  • Diet mistakes
  • Stress/illness 


  • Unable to eat
  • Drinks more
  • Hard belly
  • Not pooping normally (longer than a week)
  • Rubs the belly against any surface
  • Unable to move around


If you suspect constipation, you may serve foods with laxative effects such as applesauce, cooked egg, and pumpkin. Prepare a warm bath for 15-20 minutes and add a few drops of vegetable oil to induce movement and hydration.


The related diseases are MBD, parasites, nutritional deficiencies, infections, and septicemia. This period of weakness can lead to sickness and death if untreated.


  • Brumation
  • Stress 
  • Low temperature in the tank
  • Inadequate humidity
  • Improper basking spot
  • Lack of UV lighting


Lizards with lethargy remain still for hours, hide, and slither around like a snake instead of moving their feet.


Correct any potential environmental factors and simple physical causes such as shedding. Contact a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan for your skink.

Sunken Eyes

Prolonged dehydration as evidenced by the sunken eyes may lead to death.

Blue tongue skink with sunken eyes


  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive dry air (i.e. in the colder weather)
  • Vitamin deficiencies

Diarrhea can also cause dehydration because it decreases the absorption of water from the bowel. As a result, the epithelial cells and body tissues do not get water and become shrink.


The eyes appear dark, sunken, and hollow.


The skink should be soaked or misted with warm water to provide immediate hydration, and then inspected by a veterinarian to establish the underlying reason for dehydration.

Sudden Weight Loss

If the reason for weight loss remains uncertain, it can lead to death from malnutrition and starvation. Other related conditions are impaction/constipation, parasites, and dehydration.


  • Loss of appetite
  • Not enough food
  • Little to no activity
  • Diet mistakes
  • Stress/illness
skinny blue tongue skink
This blue tongue skink, although healthy appears to be skinny


  • Thinning of the tail
  • Prominence of the ribs
  • Broader skull bones due to fat loss on their heads
  • Lethargy, weakness, and difficulty in walking


Monitor the weight of your skink once a week and record it in a diary. If you feel your lizard is losing weight, don’t wait for it to have its appetite back and have it inspected by a veterinarian.

Check the poop of the blue tongue skink, if it is normal and it is defecating in a cycle, you should feed the highly nutritious food. Also, increase the food quantity and feeding frequency. However, if it seems weight loss is due to any underlying disease, consult a vet.

Curved/Swollen Limbs

The condition may lead to death if it progresses to a critical stage.


  • MBD
  • Lack of UVB
  • Improper diet
  • Lack of calcium and vitamins


  • Lethargy
  • Soft jaw
  • Loss of coordination
  • Muscle spasms/twitching


Soak your pet in lukewarm water with some drops of apple cider vinegar or Epsom salt for about 15 minutes. This will encourage any gas to leave the reptile’s stomach and intestinal tract. 

Once done, towel-dry your pet and then place it inside a small plastic container under the lamp for heat. The goal here is to raise the basking area to 95-105 degrees Fahrenheit, which should allow your friend’s lizard to properly digest its food.

If the swollen limb is not caused by bloat, place your pet on a small plate containing baking soda for around one hour to kill off any parasites it might have inside the digestive tract.

Abnormal Breathing Noises

If left untreated, the infection or current uncomfortable situation may escalate to death.



  • Sneezing and runny nose
  • Excessive salivating
  • Heavy breathing 
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Mouth or eye bubbles
  • Puffy appearance, swollen body
  • Raising head to be able to breathe
  • Open-mouth breathing
  • Scabby lips
  • Watery eyes


Make sure that your pet is not kept in excessively cold temperatures. If needed, provide an external heat source for your lizard. Do not place it near air-conditioning vents or under direct sunlight.

Clean the terrarium with a diluted solution of bleach and water mixture (1 part bleach to 10 parts water). Rinse it thoroughly before re-hanging the screen top.

If the respiratory infection is accompanied by an external injury, treatment will necessitate an antibiotic prescribed by the vet.


Blue tongue skinks are easy to care for and make great pets. To tell if your pet is dying, you need to look for signs. We have outlined some of the most common signs that you may be able to identify if your blue tongue skink is dying. 

If any of these signs apply to your pet lizard and it does not seem like they are getting better, please don’t hesitate to contact a veterinarian for further advice on what steps you should take next. We hope our article has been helpful in identifying potential problems with your blue  tongue skink.

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