Skink as a pet :
1- Keeping Skinks as Pets
courtesy to : www.reptileexpert.co.uk/keepingskinksaspets
By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 15 Sep 2015
Certain species of skinks can make great pets particularly for reptile beginners or children keen on getting a reptile pet. They are among the best lizards to handle, being relatively docile and easy to tame. They are also playful and agile, providing hours of entertainment for those watching. Care is much the same as for other lizards, although careful thought must be given to housing as skinks can grow to a substantial size. The two most popular species that are kept as pets are the blue-tongues skink and the Berber or Schneider skink.
The Blue-Tongued Skink
These skinks originate from Australia and New Guinea, with a natural habitat that ranges from open woodland to semi-deserts. They can grow to quite a large size – 30 inches long – and are heavily built, with broad bodies, short legs and a large, blunt, triangular head. Their most distinctive feature is the brilliantly blue tongue in their wide pink mouths. Their most endearing feature is their docile nature which makes them extremely easy to tame and handle, even by small children (although adult supervision is still advised).
Due to their large size at adulthood, blue-tongued skinks need to be kept in at least a 40-55 gallon tank. In addition, they would normally range over a wide territory in the wild and so cope much better in captivity if given larger enclosures. The substrate should be dust-free, such as clean pine or aspen shavings (not cedar) or cypress mulch. You should also provide an area of slightly damp substrate or a humidity retreat box, which is easily accessible, filled with damp sphagnum moss or even just a loosely piled damp towel. This is particularly important during periods of shedding. Blue-tongued skinks are quite agile and enjoying clambering about their environment so providing them with lots of different level branches and logs on which to explore will help to keep them happy and healthy. Remember though to have a secure lid on the top of the tank and to make sure that the tank is deep enough so that they cannot easily climb out. They will also need some hiding spaces to make them feel secure.
Light and Heating
Like all reptiles, blue-tongued skinks need an artificial source of heat to maintain a temperature gradient in their enclosure, ideally from the 75-85 degrees F. A basking area, such as under a radiant heat source, must be provided and the temperature of this is dependent on the particular subspecies of skink and its wild habitat. Some like it as hot as 100 degrees F, others as cool as low 90s. Make sure the night time temperature does not fall below 70 degrees F. You should also provide a UV light as regular exposure, especially to UVB wavelengths, is advised.
Blue-tongued skinks are omnivores and so need a range of different foods. Ideally, they should be fed on a mix of 60% plant and 40% animal matter. Plant foods can be a mixed vegetable salad which include things such as beans, squash, parsnips and leafy greens. Avoid excessive corn and carrots as these contain a lot of sugars. Also avoid too much cauliflower and broccoli as they can lead to impaired thyroid function. Fruit is a good addition to the diet, in the form of berries, peaches, pears and even a bit of banana.
For the animal side of things, try feeding low-fat canned dog food, supplemented by mealworms, crickets, earthworms and even mice. Most blue-tongued skinks can be fed about 2-4 times a week and they will exhibit clear signs when hungry, such as keeping their mouths open and looking ready to pounce on any wriggling fingers near their enclosure! Make sure also that they have fresh water available at all times although like some other reptiles, they may defecate in the water dish so always check and replace regularly.
Berber (Schneider) Skinks
These are smaller, growing only to approximately 18 inches with almost half of the length being tail. They are also easily tamed and very playful and can live for up to 20 years in captivity. Originating in northwestern Africa and Asia, they live in dry areas and rocky steppes, with brushy vegetation.
As they are smaller, Berber skinks can be housed in smaller tanks – usually 30-40 gallon although larger is still better as it allows for more natural behaviours and prevents stress from overcrowding. Since they are primarily terrestrial, provide them with some low rocks to climb on and bark slabs to hide under. Unlike the blue-tongued skinks, Berber skinks prefer a mostly arid environment, with sand as the main substrate. This should be at least 4 inches deep as Berber skinks are burrowers by nature an especially like digging deep down at night.
While they do not like too much humidity, it is still good to provide a small area where the sand is mixed with orchid bark or cypress mulch and can retain moisture, to provide a humid microhabitat. Note that males can be territorial and may fight if kept together.
Light and Heating
Like the blue-tongued skinks, Berber skinks need to have UVB lighting for about 12 hours a day. They should also have a temperature gradient in their tank from low 70s to mid 90s in the basking area. Night time temperatures should not be allowed to drop below 65 degrees F.
Berber skinks are more carnivorous, eating mainly insects and other invertebrates such as gut-loaded mealworms and crickets. Larger adults may also relish some canned dog or cat food and pinkie mice. However, they will also benefit from some plant matter and so you should try offering leafy greens and small pieces of ripe fruit a few times a week. It can also be a good idea to dust their food with a reptile calcium/vitamin supplement once a week. Make sure that you place their water dish at the cool end of the tank to prevent water evaporating and producing too much humidity in the atmosphere. As these skinks will regularly get sand in their water, you will have to give them fresh water daily.
Like all reptiles, skinks can carry the Salmonella bacteria and so care must be taken after handling them – make sure you that you wash hands thoroughly and supervise young children to make sure they adhere to hygiene practices.
Your pet croc skink will grow to be around six or seven inches long, which makes them a very manageable size. A single croc skink will only need an enclosure ten to twenty gallons in size. We recommend going with the 20 gallon if you plan to keep a mating pair together.
Want to know an interesting factoid about the red eye crocodile skink? These skinks are actually capable of making low yelping or squeaking noises. Hatchlings and adults can make the sounds, so don’t be alarmed if you hear a strange noise from your croc skink’s home. With the exception of geckos, this behavior is very unusual in lizards.
Interested in your own little wingless dragon skink? We’ve got red-eyed crocodile skinks for sale.
3- Fire Skink (Riopa fernandi)
If you haven’t already guessed as much, fire skinks get their common name from their bright red/orange coloration. Like nearly all skinks, they have very smooth scales with stout legs and thick heads and tails. They stay very low to the ground and spend most of their time burrowing and hiding.
Fire skinks are carnivorous and should be fed a staple diet of crickets with mealworms, reptiworms, hornworms, and roaches to supplement and provide nutritional variety. It’s always wise to provide a light-weight water dish too, even if fire skinks are not particularly avid drinkers.
2- Best Pet Skinks
courtesy to : backwaterreptilesblog.com/best-pet-skinks/
MARCH 4, 2016 ~ BACKWATERREPTILES
Skinks are sleek, smooth and generally docile lizards. Most will attain a very reasonable size and have straightforward care requirements. We’re very fond of skinks in general and think they make tremendously rewarding and entertaining reptile companions.
1- Blue Tongue Skink (Tiliqua sp.)
Probably the most popular pet skink we sell at Backwater Reptiles would be the Blue Tongue. “Blueys,” as they are affectionately known amongst herp hobbyists, are also the largest skink species (aside from the much harder to come by Solomon Island Skink) sold by Backwater Reptiles.
This bluey is showing off his blue tongue that got him his name. Blueys are one of the best pet skinks in the world.
We recommend purchasing your bluey as a hatchling because you can watch it grow up and train it to recognize you. The more you interact with your bluey, the more docile and tame it will become. Many will sit on the couch with their owner or even hang out on their owner’s shoulders like a parrot.
Of all the skink species sold by Backwater Reptiles, we’d say that blueys are probably the hardiest and most interactive. As we already mentioned, you can train them to enjoy being handled and petted, which is great if you want a lizard that you can “play” with, so to speak.
Blueys are omnivores and will need a varied diet ranging from canned or cooked meat to fresh, leafy greens and veggies.
If you want a pet blue tongue skink of your own, Backwater Reptiles has healthy babies and adults available.
2- Red Eye Crocodile Skink (Tribolonotus gracilis)
Many people are attracted to red eye croc skinks because they are reminiscent of tiny little dragons. They have heavily keeled scales, fierce pointy heads, and eyes that are ringed in a very bright orange/red color. Add some miniature wings and – voila! – you’ve got the world’s tiniest dragon.
Aside from their physical appearance, croc skinks are generally pretty docile. They don’t mind being picked up and human interaction doesn’t phase them.
Wouldn’t you agree that this little skink’s scales are reminiscent of a dragon?
The fire skink gets its common name from its bold red color.
Your pet fire skink should live for around fifteen to twenty years. A mature adult can grow to be fourteen or fifteen inches long, so we recommend a glass enclosure that is at least twenty gallons in size. If you wish to keep a mating pair together, we recommend a slightly larger home as these are actually pretty active lizards.
Backwater Reptiles has fire skinks for sale if you’re ready to welcome one into your own home.
4- Blue Tail Skink (Mabuya quinquetaeniata)
The smallest skink on our list is the Blue Tail Skink, which is also known as the Five-Lined Skink. This skink gets both of its common names from both its blue tail and the five cream-colored lines on its back and sides.
These little lizards are quite fast and thoroughly enjoy hiding. We recommend investing in a good substrate since your skink will spend a great deal of time out of sight. You can keep a single one in an enclosure as small as a plastic shoebox, although we always recommend at least a ten gallon tank.
Blue tail skinks are the smallest skink species on our list.
The Blue Tail will eat anything you provide for it. They’re not usually very picky. We recommend crickets and roaches with occasional treat insects like reptiworms or wax worms.
It should be noted that of all the skink species on this list, the blue tail is the least likely to enjoy being taken out of its enclosure to be held. They are known for being a bit skittish, so if you plan to handle your blue tail a lot, be prepared to train it.
The best pet skinks: Conclusion
Skinks as a species are a great pet choice for any reptile enthusiast. They all adapt well to captivity and are easy to care for. They live fairly long lives and are great for kids and adults alike. They also make awesome classroom pets.
3- Fire Skinks, Red-Sided Skinks, Schneider Skinks, Ocellated Skinks
courtesy to : www.petsuppliesplus.com/content.jsp?pageName=Skinks
These species of skink are cared for similarly, as they are all terrestrial and grow to a similar size between 8-18 inches. Additionally, all of these skinks require a similar humidity, temperature and enclosure set-up. Although this sheet outlines general care for these species, a new owner should further research the particular species purchased. Although other species of skinks are far different than these, for our use on this sheet, we will refer to them as skinks.
AVERAGE ADULT SIZE:
8-18 inches, depending on species
Warm side - 85 ℉
Basking - 90-100 ℉
Cool side - 75 ℉
* If temp falls below 70℉ at night, may need supplemental infrared or ceramic heat.
These skinks are from Northwest Africa; east to western Asia. They can be found in open woodland areas, Mediterranean scrublands, rock crevices, cultivated fields, farms, gardens and towns.
Skinks are smooth bodied lizards with sleek scales, long pointed tails, short chubby legs and flat stubby feet. Skinks do not seem to have true necks, as their heads flow gracefully into the body. Skinks have short snouts and small eyes. Most skinks are attractively colored with a main body color speckled and/or striped with complementary colors along the length of the body.
NORMAL BEHAVIOR & INTERACTION:
Skinks are calm, gregarious and usually non-aggressive; very curious and like to explore in and out of cage.
NOTE: DO NOT house skinks with other species due to the differences in care, temperatures, and the fact that some species can be highly stressed in the presence of other species.
Housing male skinks together will create a dominant/submissive hierarchy and will result in one skink becoming stressed to the point of illness, anorexia, and possibly death. Male skinks also tend to be extremely aggressive toward one another and will fight, often to the death of one.
Female skinks may be housed together IF there is ample space and food for each lizard.
Males and females - one male skink may be housed with several female skinks IF there is ample space and food for each lizard.
Carnivores; live prey. Protein sources such as: gut-loaded crickets, mealworms, butterworms, silkworms, superworms and wax worms dusted with a supplement should make up the skink diet.
LIGHTNING BUGS MUST NEVER BE FED. THEY ARE POISONOUS.
Wild caught insects should never be fed, since they can carry disease. All insects should be gut loaded (fed a nutritious diet about 24-hours before being offered to your lizard - see our cricket care sheet). Be careful to feed the proper size prey for your skink’s size. A good rule of thumb is that a cricket should be never be larger than the distance between the lizard's eyes, or the distance from its eyes to its nose. When feeding larger insects to your pet, try to make sure the insects have recently molted, as an insect with a large, hard exoskeleton is difficult to digest and may cause impactions. Feed as many insects as your lizard will eat in 3-5 minutes. Uneaten insects should be removed from the cage. Some lizard owners find it easier to feed their pet in a separate enclosure, free of bedding and furniture, this way you can be sure your lizard eats all its insects, the prey cannot hide and the lizard will not pick up any bedding when grabbing prey and mistakenly ingest it along with the prey.
Unlike snakes, lizards shed their skin in patches, not all in one piece. Your pet will become an overall dull color, and the skin over the eyelids may ‘pop’ at a certain point and make your lizard look like a bug-eyed bullfrog. Do not peel off the skin if it is not ready to come off. This can be dangerous and painful. Most lizard species will shed every 4-6 weeks. If the enclosure environment is ideal, the keeper often has no idea that their pet has shed, as it will happen more quickly and the lizard will often eat its own shed skin.
In the wild, reptiles have a much easier time with their sheds, as they are generally in a more naturally humid environment and have access to pools or bodies of water in which they can soak at will. Even reptiles from arid areas find humid places to go during the shedding process, such as cold, moist burrows under the sand or caves. The shedding process happens when the lizard’s body begins to grow a new layer of skin; that new layer begins to separate from the old and a very thin layer of fluid forms between the two layers. If your pet’s enclosure is too dry, this fluid layer will not form properly, making it difficult for your reptile to shed properly.
To create more humidity, the entire tank can be lightly spray misted twice a day during shedding time. Spray once in the morning and once later in the day. Make sure the later spray dries completely before lights go off for the night. Some lizards may also benefit from a ‘moist box’ during shedding time. This can be a Tupperware-like container (with the cover on) containing a bed of moist reptile terrarium moss. The container should be big enough for the entire lizard to be inside with an entry door cut in the side just large enough for the lizard to come and go at will. Keep the moss moist but not watery, and place the box on the heating pad in the tank.
If your lizard still has a hard time getting the shed completely off its toes, tail or head; help him by spraying the area with water and gently massaging the skin until it peels off. If the retained shed is severe and cannot be removed easily, see your exotic veterinarian.
Dust food with calcium supplement and vitamin supplements. As a rule, a growing juvenile's food (and a pregnant/gravid female’s) should be dusted more often than an adult's. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions for applying supplements to avoid over-supplementing food. Our veterinarian recommends dusting insects with a good quality calcium supplement fortified with vitamin D3, 2-3 times a week. (Avoid using a calcium supplement with added phosphorous, unless specifically directed by your veterinarian, since this can promote kidney disease.) Always consult your veterinarian for specific directions on supplementing your pet’s food, since there are many variables that go into determining the best supplementation regimen for each animal.
A large bowl of clean fresh chlorine-free water must always be available. Place it on the cool side of your reptile’s enclosure. Change it daily, or as needed, as your pet will most likely bathe in it as well. Lizards will often defecate in their water bowl, as the water seems to have a laxative effect on reptiles! All water given to reptiles for drinking, as well as water used for misting, soaking or bathing must be 100% free of chlorine and heavy metals. (Not all home water filtration systems remove 100% of the chlorine and heavy metals from tap water). We recommend that you use unflavored bottled drinking water or bottled natural spring water; never untreated tap water. If tap water is used, you should treat it with a de-chlorinating treatment. De-chlorinator is available in the pet store fish department. If you do not want to chemically de-chlorinate the water, you can leave an open container of tap water out for at least 24 hours. Do not use distilled water, which can cause severe medical problems, since it lacks minerals that are essential to important body functions. If only tap water can be used, at least de-chlorinate the water.
A daily misting or two with chlorine-free water will also be appreciated. However, care should be taken not to allow the enclosure to become damp. Also, do not mist less than two hours before turning the heat lamps off for the day.
Lizards can benefit greatly from a good deep-water soak at least once a week. A Tupperware container makes a good reptile bathtub. Fill the container deep enough so the entire lizard’s body can be submerged under water, but the head can be out of water. The water should be nice and warm (about 68-70 degrees). Soak your lizard for about a half hour at a time. This is especially helpful during a bad shed or when your lizard might be a bit constipated.
HOUSING & ENVIRONMENT:
Reptiles are ectothermic, or cold-blooded, which means they are dependent on the temperature of their immediate environment to regulate their body temperature. Therefore, we must create an environment with several heat gradients - warm on one end and cool on the other. With this set-up, your pet can go to either end depending on whether he needs to be warmer or cooler.
ENCLOSURE SIZE: The enclosure should be a solid glass sided tank long enough to create the two separate temperature gradients (warm and cool); a skink tank should be at least 20 gallons or larger for an adult. IT IS NOT TRUE THAT A REPTILE WILL ONLY GROW AS LARGE AS ITS ENCLOSURE!!
COVER: Make sure the cage has an escape-proof metal mesh top. It should fit snuggly onto the tank and have strong clips locking it on. It is important that the top is METAL mesh, as you will place the heat lamp directly on top of this cover.
HEAT PAD: Reptile heat pads can be adhered directly onto the underside of the glass bottom of the tank. Stick it on the glass on one of the very far ends of the tank. For safety reasons, make sure to attach the rubber feet (contained in the box) at all four corners of the underside of the tank. This will allow air to circulate underneath the tank and prevent the heat from being trapped under the tank.
DO NOT use reptile heat rocks. They heat unevenly and have caused severe thermal burns in reptiles.
Heat pads specifically manufactured for reptiles are safe for pets to be in contact with and are safe to leave on 24 hours a day.
HEAT LAMP: Place the heat dome with the basking bulb on top of the cage directly over where the reptile heat pad has been placed on the underside of one end of the tank.
Follow directions carefully with all products - READ THE INSTRUCTION SHEET!! Always choose fixtures with ceramic sockets and be careful to choose the socket that is properly rated for the wattage bulb that you will be using. Do not place the fixtures by dry wood or flammable fabrics. All heaters should be placed out of the reach of children and all pets - including cats and dogs. Be very careful to make sure that your caged pet cannot reach and touch the heating device in its own cage. A thermal burn to the face or body can be painful and life threatening.
UVB LIGHT: Exposure to UVB (ultraviolet B) light is critical in allowing an animal to synthesize vitamin D3 in their skin and metabolize calcium in their body. If an animal is not exposed to an adequate level of UVB light, it will gradually develop physical problems from the result of mineral deficiencies such as low blood calcium (hypocalcaemia), soft eggs (females), stunted growth and metabolic bone disorder, which can be fatal if left untreated. In addition, recent studies have linked sub-optimal vitamin D levels with poor immune system function. All day-active (diurnal) indoor reptiles, amphibians, birds and hermit crabs should be allowed self-selected exposure to UVB lighting for up to 8-12 hours a day. This means they should be able to bask in the light but also get away if desired, much as they might in the wild. Many twilight-active (crepuscular) and night-active (nocturnal) species do get some exposure to the sun and may also benefit from low levels of UVB, which helps regulate their photoperiod and vitamin D levels as well. Please see our additional “UVB Lighting for Companion Birds and Reptiles” for specific instructions for your particular pet and the UVB bulb that we recommend for him or her.
HIDE HOUSE: Place a hide house inside the cage directly over where you have positioned the heat pad, and directly under the heat lamp above.
WATER BOWL: The large water crock can be placed on the opposite end of the cage, along with another hide house, if desired.
SUBSTRATE: We recommend a loose coconut fiber substrate, available in the reptile department and made by several companies. It is made from the husks of coconuts. This substrate is ideal for skinks, as it will help hold humidity in. Keep the substrate slightly damp, but not watery. Placing large, smooth pebbles over the surface of the bedding will prevent the skink from picking up and consuming the coconut fiber when hunting prey. A shredded aspen bedding can also be used. It will not cause impactions in the lizard if it is ingested by mistake and it is easy to clean - daily spot cleaning becomes easy by just removing the soiled portion of aspen. Newspaper, paper towels can also be used. If “reptile carpeting” is used, it MUST be kept extremely clean. The carpeting can foster the growth of bacteria and fungus, which can in turn be very dangerous to your pet. If you insist on using the carpet, purchase two so you can interchange them regularly.
BRANCHES & PLANTS: Skinks do not generally climb, branches and plants are not necessary, but can be included for decoration.
TEMPERATURES: Cage temperatures should be monitored daily and kept at the temperatures listed at the top of this page. Use your reptile thermometer to check the temperatures in different places in the cage regularly to make sure they continually match the listed proper temperatures. * If the room temperature falls below 7o degrees at night, a supplemental infrared or ceramic heat fixture may be necessary. (These fixtures do not emit a light spectrum that is visible to the skink, so it will not disturb him at night, but they WILL provide the necessary supplemental heat.) If your lizard does not receive the proper heat at the proper temperatures, he may become sick with issues such as respiratory disease and may stop eating, as skinks have a hard time digesting their food without proper heat.
DAY/NIGHT LIGHT CYCLES AND HEATING:
All reptiles must have distinct day and night periods in their enclosure to maintain their biological rhythms. Skinks need 8-12 hours of daytime and 8-12 hours of nighttime. However, as the daylight hours change seasonally outside, daylight hours inside the tank should reflect the same.
The day period must be light, and the night period must be dark. A timer should be used to set day/night periods.
Daily maintenance should consist of spot cleaning by removing soiled substrate, cleaning water bowl thoroughly and wiping glass clean.
The entire tank should be cleaned thoroughly at least once every month with:
-A mild dishwashing liquid (a weak dilution) in warm water, THEN
-Vinegar & water (1:8) OR bleach and warm water (1:32)
-Cage “furniture” should also be scrubbed clean with the same dilution.
-RINSE OFF ALL SOAP AND BLEACH THOROUGHLY WITH PLAIN WATER BEFORE RE-INTRODUCING YOUR PET TO ITS ENCLOSURE!!
-NEVER MIX VINEGAR AND BLEACH - IT CREATES A TOXIC SOLUTION
GROOMING & HYGIENE:
To reduce the risk of contracting and spreading salmonella poisoning, all handlers should wash their hands after handling any reptile.
SIGNS OF A HEALTHY ANIMAL:
smooth, even body; no traces of mites (small, reddish brown spots around nostrils, near ears and eyes); clear eyes, rounded, full body; strong, even, smooth jaw line; bright eyes; fat, rounded tail, regular record of healthy feeding and defecating schedule. It is very important to keep a journal for each animal that records feeding, refusing, defecation, shedding, unusual behavior, changes in behavior and dates of bulb changes. This will help your veterinarian trouble-shoot any health issues. We recommend physical exams every year or two years with an exotic pet veterinarian for pet reptiles and amphibians. If your vet sees your pet regularly, many common conditions that afflict pet reptiles and amphibians can be caught and treated early. If not caught early enough or if left untreated, many of these conditions can become far worse if not fatal.
SIGNS OF ILLNESS:
Irregular scales; small reddish brown spots (mites) around mouth, eye area, ear area; irregular jaw line, ‘dents’ in mouth with (or without) cottage cheese-like material (mouth rot); cloudy eyes or dull colored body when not in a shed; thinned body; irregular feeding and defecating habits. Limp, thin body, lethargy, sunken eyes, pinkish patches or spots on belly or sides; obvious bite marks or wounds from cage mate or prey. Red, fluid filled patches may indicate thermal burns.
©2012 Dawn M. Trainor-Scalise
Courtesy of: Specialized Care for Avian & Exotic Pets
In conjunction with Pet Supplies “Plus”
10882 Main Street, Clarence, NY 14031
Ph (716) 759-0144
Please select or follow below :
Please select or follow below :