10 Popular Skink Species That Make Wonderful Pets

10 Popular Skink Species That Make Wonderful Pets

Skinks (Scincidae) are one of five groups of lizards found in Australia, along with dragons, legless lizards, geckos, and monitors. Skinks are lizards belonging to the family Scincidae, a family in the infraorder Scincomorpha. There are over 1,500 described several species of skinks across 100 different taxonomic genera.

Skinks have an evolutionary history of millions of years. Moreover, Skinks tend to have undergone genetic changes that allowed them to survive in climate change and terrains. Some of them are also ideal to be included as family, as they make wonderful pets.

Without further ado, here are the 10 most popular skink species that will make a great addition to your family of pets!

1. Blue-Tongued Skinks

The blue-tongued skink is one of the largest skinks that are found in Australia and New Guinea and can grow from 18-24 inches in length, depending on the variety. In most species of skinks, the tail is usually pointed and elongated but in the case of the blue-tongued skink, it is short and thickened. As with all the skinks, the diet of this lizard consists of insects, snails, slugs, and plants.

The bright blue coloration of their tongues may act as a form of protection – by swinging their tongue back and forth and showing their large mouth full of it, the prey let their predators know that it can bite. Blue tongue skinks are one of the gentlest species of lizards and this makes them to be adopted as house pets.

Female skinks of the species can undergo live birth after their eggs hatch inside and not by laying eggs waiting for them to hatch, also known as ovoviviparous. They live in numerous environments within Australia, and they typically are frequently encountered lizards.

As for lifespan, blue-tongued skinks are considered to have a long life, and the expected lifespan of this animal is about 20 years in the case of its proper care. It is a very interesting species of lizards because of its blue tongues and they are also tame.

Close-up of a Blue-Tongued Skink with mouth open

2. Blue-Tailed Skink

The Blue-tailed Skink as a member of the skink group is a smaller species of lizard native to the North American region and can reach a length of up to 8.25 inches. Males have bright blue tails with specific stripe patterns that are used in signalling and during interactions with other males.

These skinks are commonly inhabiting forest and woodland habitats as well as other areas, where they feed on insects and small invertebrates. They have small limbs and this mode of movement is like that of other lizards.

Females are in the oviparous category since they lay eggs. These animals are known to shed brilliant blue tails that turn into new ones but are not as vibrant when seized by a predator. They are a small and easy-to-find species of skink that inhabits the forests and woodland regions of North America.

Blue-Tailed Skink perched on log, showcasing vibrant blue and black colors

3. Broadhead Skink

The Broadhead Skink (Plestiodon laticeps) is a lung-mouthing skink that is native to Southeastern America it is commonly found in the forest and vegetated habitats and can grow from 6-13 inches. Like the other skinks, this lizard species has a tail that is thin at one end and can be flicked off and grown back if grabbed or snatched by a predator.

Mating usually occurs in the spring and they are carnivorous, feeding on insects, worms, and small vertebrates. Female pregnancy and they give live birth to young. They are good for families but should be provided with proper living conditions with tunnels, a ladder and a correct diet as well.

Broadhead Skink  resting on a wooden surface

4. Fire Skink

Fire skink is a kind of skink that is found in West and Central Africa. It belongs to the Scincidae family and has a preferentially conical tail and has burrowing behavior, short well-developed limbs suited for a fossorial life. They can grow up from 12-15 inches in length.

The smooth-skinned aquatic species which is characterised by bright reds, oranges and blacks is much favored in the pet trade. Fire Skinks are omnivorous, they feed on insects and other small invertebrates, greens, and fruits. Males do not nurse their young and females lay eggs.

It is good to mention that Fire Skinks have unique healing powers that give them the ability to grow back tails. As a whole, they look and act like other skink species that one may come across.

Fire Skink sitting on a wooden surface

5. Red-Eyed Crocodile Skink

The red-eyed crocodile skink is a species, native to New Guinea, with its natural habitat of tropical rainforest and can grow from 7-9 inches in length. These tropical skinks have behavior like other lizards when they are captured by a predator, they have the ability of tapering tails.

This skink is named after its crocodile-like appearance, especially its dorsal scale and its red-tinged eyes that look like those of a crocodile. They feed on insects and any other small animals they are able to hunt and capture.

Females reproduce through eggs, which will after hatching to live offspring after a period of incubation. They can be very good pets if well taken care of but most are wild animals that need to be in their natural environment.

Red-Eyed Crocodile Skink perched on a tree branch

6. Common Garden Skink

Common Garden Skink is a tiny to average-sized species of skink that might dwell in gardens or yards. Skinks are mostly ectothermic, terrestrial saurians that feed on insects with most of them living on the ground, but others are tree-dwelling and can grow up to 5.5 inches in length.

Common Garden Skink also have tails that are pointed and can easily be thrust off by the creatures whenever it is grabbed by the predator. Some of the common types of skink are the blue-tongued skink and five-lined skink and most are found in Australia.

It is known that the common garden skink reproduces by laying an egg and hatching. Common Garden Skinks are relatively widespread, sparse, and diurnal, and occupy a variety of habitats and substrates, primarily consuming small insects and invertebrates. They are liked by many people as pets because of their small bodies and average maintenance.

Common Garden Skink resting on a tree branch

7. Five-Lined Skink

Interestingly, the Five-Lined Skink is not a subspecies of the blue-tongued skink as many people mistakenly think. This skink species inhabits the North American biogeographic region and is naturally associated with forest and woodland habitats. Males can reach a length of up to 8 inches, while females are between 6-7 inches.

As with most skinks, they possess a tail that tapers, short legs and movement like most lizards. The food that is consumed by this skink includes insects and other small animals.

The juveniles have blue tail fins while adults have grey-blue tail fins and five longitudinal lines along the midline of their body which are not as conspicuous as those on juveniles. Five-Lined Skinks are great choices for several reasons including the fact that they are rather small, not overly demanding, and are generally laid back.

This is due to their special regenerative abilities of lost tails making them enduring. Unlike most other lizard species that need to be fed every day and attended to, Five-lined Skinks are easy to care for as exotic pets but still need proper maintenance and nutrition.

Five-Lined Skink with black and white stripes on its back

8. Rainbow Skink

Skinks are a diverse group of reptiles and Rainbow Skinks are a type of skink that live in Australia and New Guinea with some of them being brightly colored. They are generally kept as ornamental animals because of the beauty they possess. The majority of species are in the tropical environment and feed on tiny insects and snails. The average size in length is between 22-28 cm.

They have tails that are streamlined and end in a pointed tip, relatively short and sturdy legs and special regenerative abilities; they can regenerate their tails. Rainbow Skinks are relatively easy-going reptiles that, when it comes to housing, all they need is a bare basic cage with proper light and heat sources.

They feed on insects and vegetables, these skinks are docile and also they are small in size, which makes them among the most common lizards kept as pets

9. Schneider’s Skink (Berber Skink)

Schneider Skink also known as Berber Skink is a species of skink found in North Africa and the Middle East region. They are relatively large as they can attain a size of up to 12-16 inches in length. Most skink species are considered good pets because of their small size, moderate diet and grooming needs, and docile temperaments such as the Schneider skink.

Families like Schneider’s Skinks, like other members of this group, have limbs and small stumpy tails adapted for digging and living under stones and plants. Their food includes insects, spiders, worms and any other small animal they can capture.

Female Schneider’s Skinks are known to be viviparous or they give live birth to their young. Their small legs and relative limbless skinks suggest that they have evolved in a way that is suitable for living in burrows.

A Schneider’s Skink resting on sandy ground

10. Monkey-Tailed Skink

The Monkey-Tailed Skink is one type of skink that comes from the trees in Solomon Island. They were intelligent animals, which possessed prehensile tails that they used to traverse trees. Monkey-tailed skinks are herbivorous and their diet consists of leaves, fruits and flowers that may be found in tree-top dwelling habitats.

Other features characterize this species as arboreal for instance strong tails and limbs for effective climbing trees. Monkey-tailed skinks can be considered to be a rather large species of skinks as compared to other similar types of lizards they grow up to 24-32 inches in length.

They bear distinct tails and are taken as attractive and trending exotic animals. However, potential owners have to provide their needs checked before the acquisition so that they can be taken proper care of.

Two Monkey-Tailed Skinks perched on a tree branch in front of a house

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best skink to own as a pet?

Among the different types of skinks that can be kept as pets, the blue-tongued skink is considered the best since they are friendly. The majority of skinks have long tails that end in a narrower part and short tails that are also able to be torn off in case the lizard is seized by a predator.

Is a skink aggressive?

Generally speaking, they are not as aggressive as other lizards that are often thought to be dangerous. Predation pressure can be low, which means that most species avoid or run from threats, rarely using biting. This is due to their different evolutionary background; each genus has its kind of ways it came up with to avoid being typical prey by natural enemies depending on the environment they are located in.

Are skinks good to have around?

It is nice to have skinks around because they are typical insectivores that eat insects, worms, and slugs. Skinks are mostly small lizards that often forage or can be found in the undergrowth and other forms of vegetation and any ground litter.

How many species of skinks are there?

Skinks belong to several genera and there are more than 1,500 described species of skinks, which places its position in the lizard family ranking among one of the largest. Skinks are so diverse in appearance and behavior that it is often possible to survive different species within the same house.

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