Blue-tongue Lizard – environment
The ideal temperature range for a Blue-tongue lizard is 22 – 34°C. It is important to create a temperature gradient within enclosures, with the basking area being the hottest area of the enclosure and the opposite end of the enclosure having the lowest temperature. This allows animals to move around the enclosure and choose their preferred temperature as they would in their natural environment.
The heat source can be provided by a UV heat lamp above the basking area or alternatively a “UV Tube” is placed across the length of the enclosure and a “non UV” heat lamp such as a reflector globe is provided at one end of the enclosure for the animal’s basking area .
A temperature gun should be used to regularly monitor the temperature in different areas of the enclosure and ensure the enclosure is not becoming too hot or too cold. UV lights should be switched off at night to replicate the natural daylight hours. The use of a timer for lights is recommended.
Blue-tongue lizards will enter a dormant phase in the wild during the winter months. This is not a true hibernation as on warmers days the lizards will come out and bask for short periods of time however feeding does not normally take place. Lizards that are kept in enclosures should be kept at a constant temperature gradient throughout the year to avoid the dormant stage and encouraging the dormant stage in a school situation is not recommended.
Blue-tongue lizards require good ventilation. Lizards that are kept in outdoor enclosures or large open topped enclosures will have adequate ventilation. Lizards kept in indoor enclosures such as aquariums and tanks require a secure mesh top to provide adequate ventilation. It is essential that mesh tops are very secure to avoid animals escaping or objects falling into enclosures. A common way of securing a mesh top to an aquarium is by securing mesh to a metal frame that is fitted to the top of the tank.
Humidity is generally not a problem when keeping Blue-tongue lizards. A dry enclosure with a permanent water source such as a bowl and adequate ventilation will ensure an appropriate environment for this species.
Blue-tongue lizards kept in indoor enclosures require a heat lamp as well as a UV light tube. It is recommended to have timers fitted to lighting to ensure lights are turned off and on at appropriate times to replicate the natural light cycle that animals would experience in their natural environment. The UV heat lamp should be positioned to one side of the basking area, which should be at one end of the enclosure.
The location and positioning of outdoor enclosures needs to be well planned so that the lizards have access to direct sunlight during the day to allow the animals to bask and that objects will not block the sunlight as the sun moves. As it is impossible to control the temperature in outdoor enclosures it is essential that appropriate shelter is provided so the lizards can avoid temperature extremes (cold in winter and heat in summer as exposure to these both can potentially cause death). If the enclosure does not receive sun for a large portion of the day especially in winter the enclosure is unsuitable for housing Blue-tongues. UV lamps should not be required in an outdoor enclosure as they should receive enough UV from the sun. Close monitoring of outdoor enclosures should take place to ensure correct heating and lighting is provided. When constructing an outdoor enclosure, the basking area should be created in the area that receives sunlight for the longest period of time during the day.