Blue Tongue Skink Huffing? What Causes It And How To Fix It
Experiencing Blue Tongue Skink huffing for the first time can be quite worrying, especially if you’re not yet familiar with how these creatures behave. Most people are scared that they’ll get bitten when they see their Blue Tongue Skink huffing at them.
Usually, Blue Tongue Skink huffing means your skink is feeling annoyed or aggressive. In some cases, huffing can be a symptom of respiratory infection.
As they’re not naturally social animals, skinks need time and effort to get used to being handled by humans. Plus, loud noises and rough handling can also cause huffing, as they might feel overwhelmed and even threatened. To prevent this, owners need to approach them slowly, handle them gently, and do so in quiet environments.
In this guide, we’ll explore what causes your Blue Tongue Skink to huff. Then we’ll explain how you can respond to it and prevent it from happening again in the future.
Let’s get started.
Blue Tongue Skink Huffing – Causes
Generally speaking, a Blue Tongue Skink huffing can be a way to intimidate you. So, the question now is, why does your Blue Tongue Skink want you to leave it alone? Even though the creature can’t speak, they do give off some tell-tale signs that you can look for to understand what they’re thinking.
Let’s take a look at a few of them.
One of the first possible causes for Blue tongue skink huffing is them feeling annoyed. You can tell this is the case when their huffing happens in the form of short or brief huffs, as opposed to long huffs (which we’ll explore later).
Remember: Blue Tongue Skinks are not naturally social animals by any means. Not only do they avoid congregating with members of their species, but they’re certainly not evolved to spend lots of time around more giant creatures like human beings unless they are used to it.
That’s particularly true if you’ve only just adopted the animal and they haven’t had a chance to build a relationship with you just yet.
So, for example, when you’re cleaning or arranging their enclosure, they might start to feel annoyed at your presence. That’s when you might see Blue tongue skink huffing at you, especially with brief huffs.
To learn more about the depths of skink’s personality and what are owners saying, read here Blue Tongue Skink Personality – What To Expect
Telling You To Back Off
While Blue tongue skink huffing in short bursts indicate that your skink is annoyed, a long huff, on the other hand, is a sign that they’re feeling aggressive instead. When that starts to happen, it would be a good idea to give your Blue Tongue Skink some extra space to allow them to calm down.
When these creatures become aggressive, the risk of them biting you also increases. Don’t worry, though! They’re not venomous, and their bites aren’t strong enough to break your skin. Still, a bite would bruise your skin and also make it more challenging to build a relationship with them in the long run.
Besides feeling annoyed or aggressive, Blue Tongue Skink huffing can also be because they are feeling scared. Remember: they are not naturally social creatures. So, many things in a regular household could scare them, especially if their enclosure isn’t making them feel safe.
Besides feeling scared of human interaction, Blue Tongue Skinks might also feel scared when there’s excessive noise. That could come from the TV, the air conditioning unit, or even from human voices. That’s right! Speaking too loudly at them or even around them, could result in Blue tongue skink huffing as a sign of fear.
Depending on the Blue Tongue Skink age, they could be shedding every few weeks or months. When this happens, they’ll expect to have a much higher level of privacy than usual.
Many experienced owners have discovered that Blue Tongue Skink huffing is more likely to occur during these shedding periods, as they’ll want to do it with lots of privacy and peace.
In some cases, Blue tongue skink huffing is a symptom of respiratory infection. This is a common disease that skinks suffer from. However, the good news is that is treatable and preventable through good husbandry.
One of the main symptoms of respiratory infection in skinks is irregular breathing which can appear as huffing. Other symptoms include:
- Sneezing and runny nose
- Excessive salivating
- Heavy breathing such as huffing noises and open mouth breathing
- Lack appetite
- Mouth bubbles such as mucus and froth. In some cases, eye bubbles
- Puffy appearance, swollen body (check picture above)
- Raising head to be able to breathe and open mouth breathing
- Scabby lips
- Watery eyes
Usually, treatment for Blue tongue skink respiratory infection is antibiotics prescribed by a vet. However, you can help your skink recover by doing the following at home:
- Increase the temperature
- Include additional supplements
- Change the water in their water dish
- Clean the tank
- Strip down the tank
- Quarantine any tank mates
To learn more about diagnosing and treating respiratory infection in Blue tongue skinks, click here for the full guide Blue Tongue Skink Respiratory Infection – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
Fixes For Blue Tongue Skink Huffing
In most cases, Blue tongue skink huffing isn’t caused by a medical condition or anything affecting the creature’s health. Instead, huffing is often a behavioral matter, meaning you won’t have to worry about expensive vet visits or medications.
What you need to understand is that there are steps you can take to de-escalate the situation and help them calm down. As a result, the Blue tongue skink huffing will reduce or completely stop.
Here are a few valuable tips that you can use:
Remove Any Sources Of Noise
As described earlier, these animals can get easily overwhelmed by noise. So, if your Blue tongue skink starts huffing when you’re trying to handle them, be sure to remove or eliminate as many sources of noise in the room as possible.
That would mean shutting off the TV, radio, or air conditioner, for example. However, suppose there are any larger home appliances nearby that can’t be moved or shut off, like a refrigerator. In that case, you might want to consider relocating the Blue Tongue Skink’s enclosure to a quieter part of the house instead.
Besides noises from appliances and other equipment, you can also lower your voice to a whispering level when speaking to or around your Blue Tongue Skink. Unfortunately, we often forget that our voices at regular speaking volumes can also cause them to feel annoyed, overwhelmed, aggressive, or even scared, all of which will result in your Blue tongue skink huffing.
Gentle handling is a given, and that’s something that most people probably understand. However, there are certain handling behaviors that people don’t realize won’t work well with a Blue Tongue Skink.
For instance, stroking and petting are two forms of handling that work well with other types of pets, but not with skinks.
Instead, gentle handling should focus on simply letting the Blue Tongue Skink sit in our hand for a few quiet moments to relax. Then, as they slowly start to understand that you mean no harm as they sit in your hand, you’ll eventually notice that they stop tensing their muscles and gradually calm down.
If you observe Blue tongue skink huffing when being handled, it’s best to put them back in their tank as they might not be in the mood.
It’s a natural human instinct to shush at something or someone when we’re trying to calm them down. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work so well in the case of Blue Tongue Skink huffing. Shushing can be counterproductive when it comes to Blue Tongue Skins, so try to avoid doing that.
Blue Tongue Skink Huffing – Prevention Measures
Again, it’s essential to be clear that Blue Tongue Skink huffing is not a medical problem. It’s a behavioral issue. The reason this behavior happens is that the animal doesn’t feel comfortable around you yet, possibly because it’s only recently been adopted, or you’re not handling it correctly.
Overall, the best way to prevent Blue Tongue Skink huffing is by developing a good relationship with the animal. That will take a significant amount of time, but here are a few tips to make that happen as smoothly as possible.
First and foremost, always speak to the animal gently, at a volume that’s close to whispering. Remember: loud noises can stress the creature, which is why we must switch a volume lower than usual.
Over time, this will also help build familiarity between the both of you, which will lower the chance of Blue Tongue Skink huffing from happening in the future.
If your skink experience stress often, their immune system will weaken and won’t be able to fight off infections. Many health problems can result from prolonged stress exposure. One of them is scale rot. To learn more about how to diagnose and treat scale rot, read the full guide here Blue Tongue Skink Scale Rot – Cause, Symptoms, Treatment
Avoid Petting Or Stroking
With other household pets, petting and stroking are ideal for building comfort and strengthening your relationship. Unfortunately, that’s not a good idea in this case. You might notice that Blue Tongue Skink huffing happens more often if you try to pet or stroke the animal.
That’s because that kind of physical contact can be stressful to them, which might make them annoyed or put them in an aggressive mood.
So, when trying to build a comfortable relationship between the two of you, avoid petting or stroking. Instead, let them sit in your hand quietly so that they’ll realize that you’re a safe person to be around.
Don’t Approach From Above
Blue Tongue Skink huffing will almost certainly happen if you try to approach it from above. That’s because these animals are evolved to fear predators from above, namely birds. That’s why it’s always best to approach them with your hand slowly and from a more horizontal position.
Over time, they’ll become familiar with your hand and how you approach them. That’s when they’ll learn not to be afraid of you, resulting in fewer instances of huffing.
Interact In Short Sessions
Lastly, interact with them in short sessions rather than longer ones. That’s another adjustment that most pet owners struggle with. That’s because the general understanding is that the more time you spend with a pet, the more they’ll grow to like you.
Unfortunately, human interaction for extended periods can stress them and result in Blue tongue skink huffing with annoyance.
Blue Tongue Skink huffing can be pretty worrying or ever scary if you’re not familiar with what it is or why it happens. But remember: skinks are not naturally social animals, nor are they evolved to be as domesticated as cats and dogs. So, the way you approach and handle them needs to be slightly different.
As you develop a strong relationship with them over time, you’ll find that Blue Tongue Skink huffing occurs less and less often.
Frequently Asked Questions FAQ
What’s A Normal Blue Tongue Skink Breathing Sound Like?
Blue Tongue Skinks are shallow breathers, so don’t be alarmed if you hear them taking short breaths. Besides that, they can also go for quite some time without drawing a breath, especially if they’re in a very relaxed state.
Visually, you’ll notice this when you see only the neck area in front of their front legs moving.
What Does A Healthy Blue Tongue Skink Look Like?
Generally, a healthy Blue Tongue Skink will have open ear canals, clean toes, and no signs of retained skin after shedding. Besides looking for external signs of health, it’s also helpful to pay attention to their breathing patterns
As mentioned before, a Blue Tongue Skink f at you is entirely normal. However, they take shallow breaths and do so very infrequently.
How Often Does A Blue Tongue Skink Shed?
The frequency of Blue Tongue Skink shedding depends on its age. Those under 12 months will shed every 2-3 weeks. However, adults will shed only once every 2-3 months. As they’re shedding, they’re likely to be even less willing to interact with you than usual, leading to a higher chance of a Blue Tongue Skink huffing at you.