This small skink species originates from South East Asia. As a pet, it is becoming increasingly popular thanks to its unique appearance. The species is not keen on being handled by humans, which puts a lot of owners off owning one. If you do commit to one of these little guys, keep in mind that they can live up to 12 years.
These critters need a 10-gallon tank with gradated heat and a basking area. They have a diet of insects, and they will grow to a length of 10 inches. Best regarded as display animals, these creatures are relatively new to the pet world, only really having been kept in captivity since the 1990s. Because they can become aggressive when two or more are kept in a tank together, breeding these skinks can be a challenge.
Read on to see whether this species of lizard is appropriate as a pet for you and, if so, what you will need to ensure that it is comfortable, happy, and well cared for.
Quick Facts about The Red-Eyed Crocodile Skink
|Species Name:||Tribolonotus gracilis|
|Common Name:||Red-Eyed Crocodile Skink|
|Care Level:||Moderate to High|
|Adult Size:||10 inches|
|Minimum Tank Size:||10 gallons|
|Temperature & Humidity:||80% humidity, 80° F temperature|
Do Red-Eyed Crocodile Skinks Make Good Pets?
Red-eyed crocodile skinks have become increasingly popular as a pet in recent years, thanks to the unique markings around the eyes of the species. However, they do not like to be handled, which means that this is one type of lizard that is best kept as a display pet, rather than an active or interactive pet. As long as you want to keep one to watch and study, and can meet their requirements, they can make a good pet.
Crocodile skinks have a spiny appearance, like a crocodile, and the red-eyed crocodile skink has an orange-red ring around both of their eyes. They are quite small, with adults only growing to a length of 10 inches.
How to Take Care of a Red-Eyed Crocodile Skink
The proper care of a red-eyed crocodile skink requires the following tank, setup, and conditions, to ensure a healthy and happy pet.
Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup
Adults require a minimum size of 40” x 20” x 20” to ensure that they have ample room to explore, bask, and to allow you adequate room to meet their lighting and humidity requirements. This also allows enough space to provide a basking spot, which is another essential component of a skink’s tank.
This species of skink can benefit from UVB light, although some keepers and experts say that the crocodile skink is a nocturnal animal and does not require any UVB light. In reality, the species is crepuscular, which means that it is active during twilight hours. They should be given access to this light for 12 hours a day, which effectively provides a 12-hour day and 12-hour night cycle for your little lizard.
Heating (Temperature & Humidity)
The skink requires different temperatures during the day and night, and while some people argue that this lizard is not seen basking in the wild, you should provide a basking area. The tank should be kept between 75° F and 78° F with a basking temperature of 82° F. Humidity should be above 70% but below 90%, so it is best to aim for around 80%.
Good substrates mimic the wild conditions that the species would live in and this includes earthy and soil mixes. Some owners have reported success using damp paper towels as a substrate because they make it easier to achieve the desired humidity levels. They also appreciate moss and they should be given a pool or decent water source.
|Tank Type:||10-gallon glass vivarium|
|Heating:||Basking lamp and heat mat|
Feeding Your Red-Eyed Crocodile Skink
The red-eyed crocodile skink is a small species of skink, which means that it will happily eat small crickets and hoppers. Expect to feed live insects every two days or so and ensure that they are dusted with a decent calcium supplement to keep your little lizard companion healthy. You can also feed silkworms and red worms, in addition to other insects.
|Fruits:||0% of diet|
|Insects:||100% of diet – Three insects every two days|
|Meat:||0% of diet|
|Supplements Required:||Vitamin D3 and calcium dusting|
Keeping Your Red-Eyed Crocodile Skink Healthy
Always ensure that your skink has access to clean and fresh water and ensure that the tank is kept at a constant and appropriate heat and humidity. Dehydration and the provision of incorrect temperatures are some of the most common ways that pet skinks suffer at the hands of their owners.
Common Health Issues
- Calcium deficiency is common, as it is with any other lizard.
- Tail autotomy means that the skink will lose its tail if it gets scared. A new tail will regrow, but you must keep the tank clean during the regrowth process to prevent bacteria and infections from forming.
- Bacteria growth can occur when the tank is not cleaned thoroughly or often enough. Clean weekly to ensure good health.
In the wild and in captivity, the red-eyed crocodile skink is expected to live between 10 and 12 years.
In the wild, the female skink would lay one egg every week for six weeks during the wet season between December and March. In captivity, you can encourage breeding at any time by increasing the misting in the skink’s tank. The skinks will be sexually mature at about 3 years of age, and a breeding pair, who can live together throughout the process, will require at least 3 square feet of space.
Are Red-Eyed Crocodile Skinks Friendly? Our Handling Advice
Not known for being good for handling, this species of skink may play dead if startled. It will freeze and then roll over as though dead. It may also drop its tail as a protection mechanism. Handling should be avoided, and you should avoid going into the tank at all unless it is absolutely necessary.
Shedding: What to Expect
The species will shed roughly every 4-6 weeks and they do not usually have any difficulty, as long as you keep the tank at the appropriate temperature and the right humidity level.
How Much Do Red-Eyed Crocodile Skinks Cost?
Although they are becoming increasingly popular as pets, the red-eyed crocodile skink remains a relatively rare breed and you should expect to pay approximately $200 for a good example of this species.
Care Guide Summary
Red-eyed crocodile skinks are becoming an increasingly popular pet, but they remain rare in captivity and are a display pet rather than an interactive one. However, they have a unique look, similar to that of a miniature crocodile but with red rings around their eyes, and are one of few lizards and even fewer skink breeds that can vocalize.
They are easier to look after than some breeds, although because they have only been kept as pets since the 1990s we do not know too much about their specific requirements in captivity.
Featured Image Credit: DWI YULIANTO, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.