Well, if your skink is 4 months or under, then yes you can place them in a 15 to 20 gallon enclosure. Keep in mind, that you will need to upgrade in just a few months.
A 40 gallon (36" x 18" x "18) is the standard, minimum size that you can use for an adult skink.
If you have a Merauke or an Irian Jaya, these skinks can peak out at 30" in length. So, you will want a 4ft x2ft x 2ft.
Essentially, you will want to give a skink about a foot past their total length for adequate space. Some say a 40 gallon for a Halma is still too small but scientifically speaking skinks do not value space. They do not run around and they like to Dig & burrow. Yes, they do move around but they are pretty inactive & docile most of the time. So yes, a 40 gallon is plenty big enough but bigger is not a bad thing and may help you feel better about housing your skink. There is nothing wrong with wanting a bigger space. Just go by the foot rule, and the sub-specie that you own to ensure that you do give enough space.
You should deep clean your enclosure every 6 months, keep in mind that if you spot clean really good your substrate could last up to 4 months. All of the baking ( Refer to Substrate) and cleaning usually takes a little over an hour. I clean my enclosure with a substrate change at least every 2 months. I bake my substrate first. Then, I normally start cleaning once the substrate starts cooling from baking. This is how I get it done in around an hour.
If it is the best brand that you want, I honestly do not have an answer for you. Rather than me telling you what you should be looking for. Here are some very well known name brands in the hobby.
Zilla, Zen Habitats, Exo-Terra, National Geographic, ZooMed, Thrive, Reptizoo, Kages, Carolina Custom Cages and many more. These are are all great brands. But what are you trying to accomplish? And what materials do you want to see on the daily? Style is just a preference.
Enclosures can be made of various things such as Wood, Pvc, and Glass. Maybe a combination of materials.
Do you need a basic enclosure?
Will your enclosure be a center piece in your room?
The one thing I will say, is to have an idea of what you want. You have to live with it and enclosures can get quite pricey.
No matter what you hear your skink can and will climb. Give them a little extra space to do so. One thing is to keep in mind, is that you really do not want to reach overhead to pick up your Indo. You also do not want the hassle of having to let your lights cool, and having to move everything around to pick your skink up. I will always say, try to go for a front opening enclosure. Sliding fronts may give you more security. As far as double doors they will will give you more space to operate when changing the substrate and other task that you may have.
Cypress is our # 1 recommended substrate.
* It holds Moisture and is naturally great for maintaining Humidity.
* It is Mold & Fungi Resistant.
* It is naturally an insect repellent.
* Absorbs odors.
Cypress mulch is a bi-product of the sawmills here in the southeast United States. Cypress can be a lot cheaper than all other substrates. Cypress is plentiful & sustainable. You can literally find cypress at most of your local Lowes, The Home Depots or Lawn and Gardening stores. The draw back is that you may not be able to find cypress in you area, other than through a pet store, or online.
Eco Earth Organic, 100% natural and Eco-friendly. This is a coconut fiber type of substrate.
It too absorbs odors and breaks down waste.
Eco Earth is great for maintaining Humidity as well.
This substrate comes in loose or brick form's. This product will have to be purchased from your local pet stores or online. You may be able to find this product or something similar from a store that sells lawn & gardening supplies.
Coco- Husk as with Eco-Earth is eco-friendly and offers the same benefits.
Coco-Husk is made from the shells of coconuts and comes in a chip form.
This as well can be purchased from a pet store or online. Depending on your area, you can definitely find this product in a Lawn & Garden section at your local The Home Depots, and many other stores.
Pick what you want to see in your enclosure. These are just the three most recommended substrates that will definitely put you on the right track for success. You should always do research, before applying a product to your setup. Also, these are not the only substrates out there that can be used. We just highly recommend these for those keepers who do not run a Bio-active setup. Now, we list a couple of other suggestions on where to get your substrate from aside from pet supply stores. The reasoning for that is, that it can be much cheaper to do so. Do not let someone tell you that you only have to buy from the pet stores. Most of these substrates are used for landscaping and gardening.
You can use other types of substrates. Feel free to use just one or mixing a combination of a few. Make a different look or feel by using different ones in different parts of your enclosure. The possibilities seem endless. Whatever you do, make it efficient for your skink and something that you will enjoy to look at.
What not to use?
Do not use soft woods as they put off Noxious gases and can make your animal sick. You have a tropical animal. Just because you use these products with another pet, does not mean that you can use them for your Indo.
Stay away from Cedar, Aspen, Fir, Pine, or Eucalyptus Products.
Your enclosure is perfect. You just used pet store bought substrate and now you have things crawling around that you didn't have before. Yes, I have seen this and I will not say which product because its a good product. This type of thing just happens.
So, what essentially happens is, you may very well have bought the best brand of substrate fro online or your local pet supplies store. You get home and freshen your substrate up or just add to your current substrate. What you did not know is that your new product has wood mite eggs. Those eggs, which you will never see, they hatch and now you have a wood mite colony. Any wood products should be baked before you put it into the enclosure to prevent wood mites.
Baking your substrate is cheap and easy. Visit your local $1 store and purchase 4 of their aluminum baking pans for baking turkeys. You can normally find these or something similar in size.
Note to Minors - Have your Adult Guardians bake your substrate or help you. Never mess with hot ovens without adult supervision.
I have heard many different ways on how to bake substrate.
This is how i bake it.
*Preheat your oven to 350F
* Put the substrate into your pans and then mix in spring or filtered water until your substrate is completely damp but not saturated.
*Place the substrate in the oven and bake it at 350F for an hour.
*Once baked, Take it out and use a cooking utensil to clear out some so that you can shoot the center temperature with a heat gun or be able to use a thermometer. Your substrate temperature should be at 350F and your substrate should be wood mite free. You will notice that your substrate is lighter and somewhat dried out.
*Scoop half of it into a new pan and repeat this process with your other pans. You should have 4 half filled pans cooling which cuts down on cooling time.
*Use your heat gun or thermometer. Do not touch the substrate until it has cooled to at least 104F, as this temp is safe to touch.
*Once you reach a safe temperature you can then slowly mix in water if needed, to re hydrate your substrate. Do Not Saturate it. Let it drop to room temperature. Now you are ready to add your wood mite free substrate to the enclosure.
The baking pans can be reused over and over, and are easily stacked and stored.
Do Not Bake Sphagnum Moss
Here is a trick that a lot of people do not know about. Take a ruler and place it beside your skink when they are laying down. How tall are they when laying completely flat? I can tell you as an adult skink, Ramone is still under 1 1/2".
Your substrate should be a little taller than twice their height when laying flat.
So, 2 of Ramone stacked on top of each other would be less than, but around 3 inches in height. Give another half to a full inch and now you have your depth.
3 to 4 inches is what Ramone gets to play in. Which is plenty. I can loose him in 2 inches of substrate but that is not adequate for digging and burrowing.
So, twice the height of your skink laying down, plus an inch.
Yes, you can add more but keep in mind if it is too deep then they may not want to burrow due to the temps down there.
Sphagnum Moss can be used to mix in with your substrate or you can use it for decor purposes. You can use it for a hide bedding. There are so many ways to use this stuff. I usually use the green moss for a pop of vibrant green color and I use the New Zealand Sphagnum moss as a hide bedding. I never mix it into the substrate, my skink does that well enough on his own terms as he romps around or digs and burrows. Pictured above is what you will get in Fluker's sphagnum moss. It is generally very dry and will produce quite a bit of dust. I normally break a handful apart and mist it as i go, until it is moist. The water will add much volume to this product. However, when placed in the enclosure it sure does add some nice coloring to the setting.
Pictured above is your New Zealand sphagnum moss. You will see this moss more than all other moss and for good reason.
What is Sphagnum moss and why is it so important?
From watching Ramone, My Halmahera.
He loves to burrow inside of the moss.
Sphagnum moss is a useful tool in maintaining proper humidity. It holds moisture extremely well, kinda like a moisture magnet if there ever were one. If you do not like the looks of it, you can always mix it into your substrate to make it less noticeable.
Sphagnum moss is actually a type of peat moss that can store water. Both living and dead moss can hold significant amounts of water.
Which is why we highly recommend Indo keepers to use it.
If you do not run a Bio-active setup you should be performing a deep cleaning every 6 months or so.
If you spot clean regularly (Scooping Poop & clearing Urates & all other waste)
Your substrate can last up to 4 months.
Traditionally enclosures depend on you for maintenance. We clean, we scoop the poop. A bio active enclosure is self sustaining. It can be it's own little world.
You will need at least two substrate layers. You will use a high humidity substance for this such as Cypress, peat moss, top soil, and other things. Maybe a mix of all of these over a layer of rock or gravel. Hydro balls are a great thing to put in with your gravel or rock.
Check out the link above for great infromation on plants.
Plants can and will make your Bio Active setup look good. Live plants will also help keep your Humidity up as they boost it quite a bit naturally. If you do decide to go with live plants, please make sure that you have adequate UV lighting.
And just to be clear, I have no qualms about sharing another website directly when they provide such good information.
Other than picking up big pieces of debris, poo, dead plant matter, ect.
Your cleanup crew will take care of the rest for you. They can also provide enrichment to your skink. Some of your CUC will consist of but not limited to
Spring Tails, White Worms, Small worms (Dendrobaena), Bean Weevils, Tropical Grey Woodlice (Isopods). All of the listed are BTS safe, though they may not be safe from your Indo.
So setting up and starting a Bio Active enclosure is a bit more work and costly.
However, the benefits outweigh any negatives.
If you decide to go this route, not only will you Be a Proud Indonesian Blue Tongue Skink Owner but now you can add Eco-System Manager to your résumé. LOL
Seriously, a nice accomplishment.
Temperatures are important.
Your cool side should range between 74F and 84F.
Your warm side should range between 90F and 105F.
At night your temps can not drop past 65F. This is crucial to know.
There should be a gradient between the cool and warm side of your enclosure. Pictured above is an Acurite combo unit. You can get your humidity and temperature readings all in one place. This unit often sold for $10 at Walmart and various other places. You will see some non pet trade devices only to show you that maintaining a healthy skink does not have to cost you an arm and a leg. Back to the temps.
Temperature along with humidity go hand in hand. These determine how well your skink is going to be and how they feel. I can not stress the importance enough of maintaining proper temps. Too hot and your skink will hide all of the time. Not hot enough and your skink will try to climb towards the heat. Without proper temps they can become lethargic and may develop an URI.
Pictured above is a Ceramic Heat Emitter (CHE). These special bulbs will normally outlast anything else. These are the only bulbs that I use for heat in all of my reptile applications. You can find them big and high wattage, all the way down to a nano 25watt. In my experience CHE's are far better than any other bulbs due to the tolerance for humidity.
You can use Halogen and mercury vapor bulbs. However, CHE's put off no light. My daylight relies solely on my UVB lighting.
No matter what you use we ask that you stay away from colored heat bulbs, such as the ever most popular red night time bulbs.
They are known to disrupt your skinks Circadian Rhythm, which is your skinks natural time clock. Every skink has a parietal eye which helps this rhythm and other functions which we will discuss in another article. They need no light at night. Heat yes, but no light.
These colored bulbs can affect this Circadian rhythm leaving them stressed and confused.
What is UVB?
UVB starts the synthesis of vitamin D3 which helps your skink to absorb calcium, breakdown protein and promotes healthy digestion.
It has been proven that skinks can maintain their health without UVB.
However we should be providing UVB as a beneficial supplement.
My UVB is my only light source for all of my reptiles, as it replicates what the sun naturally does for them. I only give UVB during the day as I let it work like natures 24 hour cycle would do. The UVB lamps are set on timers and stay on 12 hours a day. Your uvb should be replaced every 3 to 6 months depending if you use a coil or tubular bulb. If you are using a coil bulb, replace every 3 months as to a T5 you can replace every 6 months.
These bulbs can be inexpensive so its not a really big deal.
The reasoning for replacement is yes you may very well be getting light, but the ultra violet aspect will no longer be effective. You can not judge UVB output by the eye. Just like us humans, too much UVB output is harmful. Percentage wise, what do you go with? If you use a coil style bulb, which means you may be using more than one. I would highly recommend a 5%
If you are using the T5 bulbs, I would not go higher than a 12%.
These are tropical creatures so there is no need for high output UVB.
Humidity is the amount of moisture in the air. Your skink needs humidity just as much as fish need water. Or as much as we humans need oxygen.
Humidity determines how well your skink will thrive. With proper amounts, your skink will be a better skink. And with out enough, you can run into some big issues.
For Halmahera's (pictured above).
You need between 80% and 100% humidity.
For Classic's, Merauke's, Irian Jaya's,
Kei Islands, and Tanimbar's,
you will need to maintain between 60% and 80% Humidity.
You measure the humidity with a hygrometer like the one pictured above. This Hygrometer is put out by Thrive. This one can be purchased for around $10. These Hygrometers are great and can be placed almost anywhere within the enclosure. There are a number of hygrometers that you can use. Just make sure that you use one to help maintain the proper humidity. You really can not judge your humidity by eye. Your substrate can be completely saturate and you still not be able to maintain a high enough Humidity within the enclosure.
We do recommend foggers and humidifiers. A tip would to be to place the water dish directly under the hose so that your substrate does not get saturated by the excessive dripping. Another tip is to use a timer for these devices. A timer will make your life much easier. My timer lets my fogger run for 15 minutes every hour. 24/7 .
We do not recommend automatic misting systems, due to the fact that everything will become saturated.
Here's the deal. You can have a completely wet substrate and still not be able to maintain the proper humidity. This is an issue, because with constantly wet substrate your enclosure can grow mold, fungi and possibly cause scale rot to your skink. You would think that wet, means humidity, but it doesn't. So please use a hygrometer. You just can not judge Humidity by the way it feels or by the naked eye. You need a way to measure it.
Humidity effects almost every aspect of your Indo's life. It is the difference between a healthy and unhealthy skink. It affects their breathing. Without enough humidity they could develop an Upper Respiratory Infection, which could be fatal if not caught soon enough. Humidity affects the way that they feel. Meaning they are content or seem agitated. This could lead to hiding more than usual because they will go where the humidity is. This really affects how well they are able to shed.
Not enough Humidity and their shed will not come off it will become stuck.
When shed becomes stuck, Necrosis can set in. Necrosis is pretty much the dying of living cells.
So as the stuck shed stays on, lets say the feet. The circulation is cut off eventually killing the flesh in the constricted area. That area dies completely and falls off, never to grow back. This is why stuck shed and missing toes are so common with skinks.
Within these pages you can learn what you need in order to have a Happy & Healthy Indonesian Blue Toungue Skink.
If you are here just to look, that's ok too. Please be our guest and enjoy!!!