Blue Tailed Skink Poisonous?

During warmer months, I am asked many questions about lizards, especially skinks and geckos. Of the almost 6,000 living species of lizards currently recognized, the ones in these families are the most abundant and widespread globally, collectively representing more than half of the world’s lizards.

Some people who move
from more northern localities to the South seem particularly apprehensive
about these native animals that were already here long before any humans
arrived. I have heard
of cats becoming ill from eating bluetailed skinks, but the information
among veterinarians I have talked to is contradictory and not definitive.

Do blue-tailed skinks carry diseases?

Skinks are among the reptiles potentially carrying dangerous parasites that end up inside Missy’s bile duct, causing inflammation. The bile duct becomes blocked, causing toxins to accumulate in the liver.

Can you hold a blue-tailed skink?

Skinks can detach their tails when threatened and escape if you grab them there. Be careful not to squeeze too hard, or else you could injure the skink. Keep your fingers away from the skink’s mouth. Although skinks are not poisonous, it can still hurt when they bite!

Are skinks safe to touch?

Usually a skink will only bite you for one of the following reasons: They are being handled when they do not want to be. Sometimes they can be over-handled which can stress them out slightly. Be careful not to over-handle any lizard.

Are blue-tailed skink toxic to dogs?

Reptiles, like skinks, carry salmonella in their intestinal tracts and shed the bacteria into their stool. If your dog happens to ingest this bacteria, it can cause serious gastrointestinal upsets and potentially blood infections (sepsis).

The Bluetailed Skink, also known as the Shinning-skink or the Christmas Island Bluetailed, is a species of skink that is indigenous to the Christmas Island of Australia. Historical data have revealed that, these humble, non-poisonous reptiles were once feral and widespread throughout the island. Though, from around the late 1980s, these creatures started to decline in numbers across the Christmas Island.

Blue Tailed SkinkAlthough, extensive studies and surveying are still on across the Christmas Island, but presently, there was no evidence of any wild populations. However, it is quite possible that, undiscovered populations still exist since Christmas Island has vast stretches of furrowed landscapes that are almost inaccessible.

Skin/Coat Color: The baby skinks exhibit a dark black complexion with bright yellow stripes on the back of their necks that run down to the juncture of the tail. As the name suggests, these skinks, including both genders, have bright blue tails. These skinks, as mentioned, are mainly distributed across Australias Christmas Islands in the Indian Ocean.

Later, from this stock, yet another captive breeding population was established in 2011 that has been managed at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney. These creatures dwell primarily in forest areas, but also went feral, roaming around the suburbs, often seen on the walls and peoples fences. These skinks mainly bask on brick walls and stones, on the boundaries and fences, fallen tree trunks, clearings in primary rainforest, atop ornamental trees, small shrubs and even on coconut palms.

These skinks are good climbers, and are mostly commonly seen foraging in areas with low vegetation on the ground, on exposed rocks, in the tree canopy, low on the trunks of trees, etc., and may be exposed to predation attempts while foraging. The bright blue pigmentation on the tail is to direct the attention of the predator towards it, instead of the vulnerable body of the skink. The cat, black rat, Asian wolf snake, giant centipede, nankeen kestrel, yellow crazy ant are the primary enemies of the bluetailed skink present in the Christmas Islands.

Missy’s eyes are made for detecting prey and tiny things that dart about, like mice, bugs and lizards such as skinks. They’re enticing prey for her, and it’s little wonder she’ll munch on her quarry if she doesn’t give it in offering to you. Some of her victims are safe menu options, while others are best left alone.

Skinks are among the reptiles potentially carrying dangerous parasites that end up inside Missy’s bile duct, causing inflammation. The Merck Manual refers to it as lizard poisoning syndrome, with symptoms including loss of appetite, jaundice, diarrhea and vomiting.

Known as feline vestibular syndrome, it’s not clear what can cause such problems in Missy, though sometimes ear infections and tumors can trigger such events. If Missy has symptoms of vestibular syndrome, the vet will check for ear infections and other potential causes to explain the condition.

They are easy to spot during the warm months, and their brilliant blue tails stand out in almost every setting except maybe a patch of blue hydrangeas.

By the way, the word skink applies to lizards in the more-difficult-to-pronounce family Scincidae and the infraorder Scincomorpha that are distinguished by having no neck and smallish legs for their size. These lizards spend most of their time eating crawlies like spiders, crickets, beetles, snails, various larvae, roaches, wasps, termites and grasshoppers.

They prefer moist areas near lakes, creeks and swamps and are usually seen around rotting wood, sawdust and rock piles, which is where their prey lives.

Blue-Tailed Skink

If Missy enjoys soaking up the afternoon sun, she may encounter bluetailed skinks, depending on where home is. Also known as five-lined skinks, these reptiles cover a lot of ground, ranging from New York south to Florida and west to Wisconsin, Missouri and parts of Michigan, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. They prefer moist woods, living among logs, rock piles and stumps. Reaching 8 inches in length, these guys are named for their marking. They wear five light-colored stripes from snout to tail and, as juveniles, sport bright blue tails, which dull with age.

Missy and Skinks

Raccoon, foxes, snakes and other predators dine on this reptile just fine to no apparent ill effect. However, there is disagreement about whether this fellow is toxic to cats. Some cats eat bluetailed skinks with no problems, while others become dangerously ill. If Missy gets her paws on a bluetailed skink, chances are the critter’s tail will break off — it’s the reptile’s defense mechanism. Even after disconnecting, the tail will continue to twitch, distracting Missy and allowing the skink to run away. If that fails, the skink may try biting Missy.

Skink for a Snack

If Missy suffers from a skink bite, she’ll likely be okay because skinks have very small teeth that can hardly break a cat’s skin. As well, skinks don’t have venom, as snakes do. Should she decide a skink, or his tail, is a tasty morsel, she may get very sick. Though skinks are not really toxic, cats can get sick from eating the critters. Skinks are among the reptiles potentially carrying dangerous parasites that end up inside Missy’s bile duct, causing inflammation. The bile duct becomes blocked, causing toxins to accumulate in the liver. The Merck Manual refers to it as lizard poisoning syndrome, with symptoms including loss of appetite, jaundice, diarrhea and vomiting. Veterinary care is critical for the cat who has lunched on an infected slink. Treatment sometimes requires surgery.

Feline Vestibular Syndrome

Cat owners have reported other symptoms from cats eating bluetailed skinks, including head tilting, falling, leaning and strange eye movement. Known as feline vestibular syndrome, it’s not clear what can cause such problems in Missy, though sometimes ear infections and tumors can trigger such events. Usually the cause of feline vestibular syndrome is idiopathic, or unknown, and there’s no proven link between bluetailed skinks and vestibular disease. If Missy has symptoms of vestibular syndrome, the vet will check for ear infections and other potential causes to explain the condition. However, there’s enough anecdotal evidence linking the syndrome to cats who’ve dined on bluetailed skinks, so if Missy chews on a skink and has symptoms of the syndrome, inform your vet.