March 19, 2019
by Dave of Dave's Skinks
    This question has been asked a lot and I’m happy to share.  Dinobot was the first. He’s an imported Indonesian Irian Jaya I got from a Soutside Chicago exotic pet shop when he was just a few months old.  I had been doing bts research for two full years before finding an affordable, local supplier.  Ordinarily, I’m against removing animals from the wild but I was just a kid and really wanted to get into “the game”.  Fast forward to a decade later when I get my second (and third) blue tongues. I cut a deal to buy multiple classic Northern Australian babies from a breeder out of Arizona.  They were 2-3 weeks old at arrival. A few months later, I went to the North American Reptile Breeders Convention (NARBC) and met Big Mamma. A breeder out of Wisconsin was downsizing his collection and selling many subspecies off to pay for a new house.  Big Mamma was the largest blue tongue I had ever met. She was 3 years old, 26″ and well over 1500 grams. She was sold to me pregnant – turned out to just be morbidly obese – and I was offered an immediate and subsequent  lesson in certain blue tongue breeders, gravid females, and overall blue tongue health. She has lost some weight in my care, but frankly, has an insatiable appetite and has given me pause in the proper way to manager her health and wellness.


    Now that I had a few in my collection, I looked to see who in Illinois, Chicago, or Suburban Cook county was also in the skink community for me to network and collaborate with.  Still to this day, I believe I am the only one in the Greater Chicagoland area working with Australian Northern Blue Tongue Skinks.  Please let me know if I stand corrected. I’ve met with or spoken to the other Indonesian subspecies collectors and breeders in the area, but part of the reason I’m gradually getting more obsessed with the Northerns, and all Australian subspecies really, is the exclusivity. One of the Irian Jaya breeder/hobbyist happened to live close by. So to start off the breeding season, after realizing Dinobot and Big Mamma would never match up to breed due to their sheer, physical size disparity, I brought her over to, (1) confirm after a missed breeding season she was indeed female, and (2) to hopefully find her a boyfriend.  George, a full adult male IJ from Ray Gurgui, who had been reluctant to ever breed, finally found a gal worth losing his virginity too. Unfortunately, not one baby from their litter ended up surviving – it was devastating! All of the babies from George’s original owner’s other litters made it. The guy was reluctant to part with many of the new babies, and due to a housing shortage, George came to be mine forever more. After that I really set my purchase decisions focused on what fell in line with my Northern breeding project: reduced tradational black sides with high orange and other vibrant colors.  I got 4-month-old Kathryn Knight, discounted, after an East Coast hurricane damaged another breeder’s property and there was a mild liquidation sale. Gladys was found discounted from a classified section out of Florida when the owner realized he couldn’t properly care for his one-year-old BTS. Charlie Manson was a personal birthday present to myself.  I really shelled out for him. Something like $800 shipped for the youngest baby I had received. I think the little bloke was 8 days old at arrival. Then I got a one-year-old, pure T+ Caramel Northern, discounted because it wasn’t growing fast enough and the breeders felt it may never reach adequate breeding size. And lastly, my full-adult Sunrise was acquired in trade for some of my Irian Jaya babies from another breeder out of Utah.


    Some of my skinks have been with me since they were just babies, others adolescents, and others as full adults.  Some skinks were an opportunity purchase when another breeder needed cash more than their blue tongue, but others I’ve really shelled out good money for quality genetics.  No matter what, after being with me for just a few months, they all start to bond and find their comfort zone in my care.