Brumation and Skinks | Worry Free Guide – Ep. 94

Brumation and Skinks | Worry Free Guide – Ep. 94

If you have a skinks and live in a seasonal
climate that has significant temperature differences like 90 degree summer days and cold and snowy
winters then your might want to keep watching…. You are watching ReptileMountain.TV, evidence-based, captive bred, and animal focused. Welcome to ReptileMountain.TV I’m TC Houston
a former professional AZA zookeeper and current small batch reptile breeder dedicated to providing
quality information to the global reptile community. Right now as I film this video it is autumn
here in Colorado, USA. The nights are getting cold and the length
of daylight is decreasing each day as we approach the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. What???? TC Is this video about skinks or the weather??? Yes. “Other me” this video is definitely about
skinks….hang in there… it will all make sense soon….All animals are in some way
shape or form affected either physiologically or behaviorally or both by their environments. Part of that environment is levels of heat,
barometric pressure, light, humidity, wind, elevatioin, heck even gravitational levels
is part of the environmental impact and the list goes on and on. You might have seen that giant fireball in
the sky we call the sun….well that has a gimungous influence on all those variables. The earth is angled at 23.5 degrees from its
orbital plane, its called an axial tilt, because of that fact we experience different times
of the year that the sun hits part of the earth for longer periods of time and shorter
periods of time. Aaaannnnnd that is why we have seasons. AAAAAAAnd the amount of distance north or
south from the equator typically correlates with the intensity of the seasonal shifts. Most of us learned this in grade school so
I’ll stop with the astronomy and get back to zoology. In very basic terms as the seasons change
our animals respond accordingly. Here in the Northern Hemisphere as we approach
the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, our animals respond by preparing for
brumation. Many species will respond to the change including
Australian blue tongues by slowing down a bit. You may notice your animal eating less or
maybe they’ve stopped eating altogether. You may notice they are less active or maybe
they’re hiding all the time now. This is a natural response to their environment. Now, some species and subspecies such as Northern
Blue Tongue Skinks don’t come from a geographic location that has a significant seasonal shift. Technically the Northern Blue Tongue is a
tropical animal. Yes there is a wet and dry season and there
is some temperature change in the Northern Territory but not nearly as significant as
North America, Europe, Southern parts of Australia and so on. The Northern Blue Tongue does have a slight
slow down in the wild due to a slight drop in temps and reduction of available resources
however they are still active in the wild and actually breed in the winter season. However, just because they don’t do so in
the wild doesn’t mean they are not affected by their environment in captivity. Many species including Northern Blue Tongues
and even species from the Indonesian/Papuan regions can respond to their captive environment
in a way that they would not in the wild. It’s still a natural and healthy response
to an unnatural situation. Tropical animals that don’t burmate in the
wild might brumate in captive temperate environments. The level and intensity of brumation will
typically be much less than a true temperate brumating species but it still occurs all
the same. Some species have an evolutionary developmental
path that travels from temperate zones into tropical zones. Tiliqua scincoides are believed to be one
such species. Basically this means that it is believed that
Northern and Eastern Blue Tongues have ancestors from temperate environments and they expanded
North into the subtropical and tropical zones. So when your tropical skink (yes Northerns
are technically tropical) starts to act like they are burmating in your house in Minnesota….they
might be defaulting to their ancestral traits. You might be thinking, “Who cares TC….I
have a skink that has stopped eating… it’s hiding… all the time…. And its only 7 months old!!! In your other video you say not to let first
year skinks brumate…. Is my baby going to die???” Okay so if you live in a sub tropic or temperate
region like all of North America, New Zealand Europe, and Asia, as well as I believe New
South Wales, Victoria, Tazmania, and Southern Australia, then your skink might be inclined
to brumate even if its less than a year old. Its okay, it’s a natural reaction to an
unnatural circumstance. Your animal is probably not going to die. Can I say for sure. No…even seemingly healthy adult animals
under experienced keeper care can have complications during brumation and not come out alive. That is rare but nothing is guaranteed. Overall though, your skink will likely be
just fine. And again you might be thinking….”then
why do you say not to let first year babies brumate???” Here is the deal, brumation can be a very
natural reaction and in most cases is healthy for an animal. Now, animals that come from temperate climates
that burmate in the wild have actually evolved to store extra lipids (fats) in their bodies
to use as energy during the winter season and as a booster for spring when food is still
a bit scare and even opportunity for proper food metabolization is lower. So all year long these animals store up reserves
for their big season of “winter fasting.” They use their reserve fats during brumation
and come out ready to start storing up more again in the spring. Babies don’t always have a good reserve
built up since they have only had a short amount of time on earth to prepare and they
spent most of their food energy on growth not reserve storage. So the theory is that sending them into brumation
without adequate lipid reserves will put them at a disadvantage. My concern is not that they will starve to
death but that they might not have adequate fats to use for energy to fight off any infections
or illnesses that can occur when the animal is in a more vulnerable state such as brumation. Of course experienced keepers might not have
this concern, and I don’t for my personal colony, however, I’m not making these videos
and care guides for my own use. They are for the community. Which by the way is very full on brand new
skink keepers and brand new reptile keepers in general. Thus, I must present to include everyone as
best I can. Therefore, new skink owners might not know
what is and is not a good healthy response to brumation…that is difficult to express
over the internet…Its more something that comes with hands on experience. New keepers by definition don’t have that
experience which is normal and okay…it comes with time….new keepers tend to be formula
followers until they get the hang of the art part of adapting to each animals needs. Therefore to reduce risk I suggested and still
do recommend first year skinks avoid brumation if possible. Obviously if the baby is nice and fat and
robust then there is no reason to avoid it if they are trying to brumate. Just let them. The only reason for concern would be if the
baby wasn’t a good grower, seems underweight, or you as a keeper feel uncomfortable with
the idea at this point in your journey. Sometimes it cannot be avoided and the animal
is going to do what it’s going to do. As long as they are not at increased risk
like I just mentioned then let them. If they are underweight or stunted I would
seek a quality reptile vets support before allowing brumation. “Okay got it TC…then what should a new
keeper do for brumation?” Well, other me…. simply put you can basically wait them out
and stay observant. I provide a weekly water refill and I also
do a hands on, minimally invasive, very quick check every two weeks on the skinks to ensure
they are okay. For my snakes I generally leave them completely
alone except for water refills and quick hands off visual look over. For true brumators like Easterns I slowly
cool them down into the high 50s and provide 4 hours of light a day. For my Northerns I cut their basking spots
down to 80F and only give that to them for 6 hours a day allowing the ambient room temp
at waist height to drop to 70. Northerns don’t need to be cold to brumate. For a pet owner of a Northern you can simply
change nothing. To avoid wasting food, you can cut back and
offer food every two weeks and just monitor their weight and health. They will likely just hide on the cool end
for several weeks or even a couple months then one day near the spring they’ll be
back to themselves. If they do begin to lose weight you can drop
the basking temps down to 80F and cut the amount of light per day down like I do. If they seem a bit off, sick, or weak seek
a vet for assistance. Most pet Northerns will not lose weight even
if their temps are kept the same. That’s the fun thing about brumation and
the reason the term was coined. It is used to describe the physiological shift
in the animals body independent of temperatures. Which is what is going on in our animals this
time of year. Their metabolism is slowing down independent
of your enclosure temps. For more that I invite you to check out this
video here. Overall, brumation is a natural response to
a seasonal change in the environment. An animal with good weight should be fine
to allow to brumate if done according to the particular species and individual’s needs. And when in doubt consult a vet. It is always better to play it safe than be
sorry. Thank you for watching! Thanks to my subscribers! If you’re nots one yet you should become
one so Hit that button and that bell! A huge thank you to my Patrons you are amazing. Remember opinion is not fact.!

Randy Schultz

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11 thoughts on “Brumation and Skinks | Worry Free Guide – Ep. 94

  1. Snowyraptor123 says:

    Thx tc your the best you give the best tips like this if you agree

  2. Inda coma says:

    Great video TC , quick question I know you typically don't dabble tiliqua gigas gigas but is there any chance they would brumate and if so what temps do you guess would be adequate for them? Thanks

  3. Missy Hoops says:

    I am a new keeper and I appreciate this info. So far, no signs of brumation yet, but I've been a little worried, but I will feel better now if she does, so thank you for that!

  4. ReptileMountain.TV says:

    Do NOT feed when the temperature is lowered! Wait 2 weeks AFTER last meal to lower temperatures!!!

  5. Snowyraptor123 says:

    I am getting a northern blue tongued skink I’m new to reptiles but I’ve been doing a lot of research what lights should I use

  6. ReptiFiles says:

    This was very helpful! Thanks for making the point about different species of blue tongue having different brumation needs. And thanks for mentioning that young skinks may try to brumate even when they're not quite a year old yet! This tends to cause a lot of panic, but let's be honest — most young reptiles are not 12 months old by the time they need to brumate for the first time in the wild.

  7. Snowyraptor123 says:

    Tc I think you should be world wide famous YouTube star your amazing

  8. BunDun says:

    Awesome video!, this might be a silly question but just for my own curiosity, what happens if you let a 3 months old blue tongue brumate without waking him up?, let's say that his brumation lasted 4 months then he woke up, he's still gonna have his "baby" body right?, this might be a bit silly but, will he be a 3 months old after waking him or 7 months old?, also does the brumation takes time from his life cycle while he's asleep?, I'm actually curious because let's say that you had a 3 months old blue tongue and he brumates for 4 months, he wakes up having the exact same body he had 4 months ago, then a guy comes in and say "Ohhhhh that's a cool looking baby skink how old is he?" then you say 7 months old even tho he looks like a baby and not a sub adult.

  9. Brandon Fowler says:

    Great video with awesome info! Keep it up!

  10. Mark Ortiz says:

    I have noticed my Northern hasn't been eating as much

  11. Lance Kirkman says:


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