Red Eyed Crocodile Skink Care Guide

The red-eyed crocodile skink is a shy crepuscular lizard. This means that it is a type of lizard that is mostly active at dawn and dusk. Red Eyed Crocodile Skink Care

This shy reptile simply enjoys its own privacy but what if you find them irresistible and simply want to be a good host?

This guide has been researched and written to provide you with information that will allow you to understand this beautiful lizard and as a result, be able to care for it effectively and efficiently.

The red-eyed crocodile skink is a type of lizard that hails from the Tribolonotus genus. You will find eight other species in this genus but the red-eyed crocodile skink is the most common. 

The scientific name for this lizard is Tribolonotus Gracilis. People started keeping the red-eyed crocodile skink as a pet in the mid-1990s. They were and are still fascinated by the fact that these lizards are like miniature crocodiles and the only difference is that the skink is so shy. Do not forget why it is called the red-eyed crocodile skink because a red ring encircles its beautiful eyes. 

Related: Are Leopard Geckos Nocturnal?

Types Of Red Eyed Crocodile Skink

As we had mentioned before, the red-eyed crocodile skink is not the only member of its family. There are eight other types of skink and it is important to know them too.

Out of these eight, only two species can be kept as pets. These are the novaeguineade and Tribolonotus gracilis.

These lizards are commonly found in Irian Jaya, Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea.  The other six species that are left to roam the wild are:

  • Annectens
  • Blanchardi
  • Brongersmai
  • Pseudoponceleti
  • Ponceleti
  • Schmidti

Characteristics of Red-Eyed Crocodile skink

For you to be able to care well for the red-eyed crocodile skink, you will need to know the character it possesses. First and foremost, this skink has stout legs. Its underbelly is as majestic as its eyes, it’s cream-colored.

You already know why it is called red-eyed but do you know why the word crocodile is also included? Its scales are curved backward and they have tapered points plus it has four dorsal rows that look like those of a crocodile.

The young ones have the same type of body and skin as that of the adults but their eyes have no reddish/orange scales. The adults have a solid reddish-orange color around their eyes. The red-eyed crocodile lizard can grow up to 10 inches.

They are quiet and shy but are not afraid to vocalize their frustrations when under duress. They will do this when there is a captor around. If this does not work then they will do the old trick of playing dead.

The babies play dead more often than the adults while the entire species will not hesitate to drop their tails when startled.  During mating, both males and females make unique sounds.

Red-Eyed Crocodile Skink Home

The T gracilis is a tropical lizard and can withstand high temperatures of 81 degrees  and if the temperatures are low then they can be as low as 73 degrees. 

These lizards are normally found under the debris of the forest. They dig and create nests. This is usually done near water because these guys cannot go 24 hours without water or else they die.

However, there is a problem of deforestation that has seen their natural habitat destroyed and has led to them creating and adapting to living in coconut plantations. They fit in well with the coconut husks.

Red-Eyed Crocodile Skink Diet

These lizards usually go for grubs, insects and small worms. You should note that these lizards like their meals alive and fresh plus the food size should be half the size of their head.

The young ones and hatchlings are to eat 2-3 food items once of each food item daily while the adults can do with the same portion every other day.

Employ gut loading whereby you feed leafy vegetables to the prey a day or two before feeding it to the skink. This ensures that the prey lives longer.

Related: What Does a Garden Lizard Eat?

Red-Eyed Crocodile Skink Care

There are several elements that make up good red-eyed crocodile skink husbandry. The first one is the enclosure.

The enclosure should be a 10-gallon aquarium or any other tank but of a similar size. A 10-gallon tank can host two skinks but you should ensure the screen type allows maximum ventilation.

Do not put two male lizards together or else they will fight to the death.  These lizards are not tree dwellers but they do have excellent climbing skills so also consider this when choosing an enclosure.

Enclosure accessories are the next element. You can make use of fake plants but just know that this is not positive for humidity. You can just go for natural plants but just ensure that they are herbicide free.

Foliage and shrubbery will do because they offer protection and volume inside the enclosure. Add some rocks and logs so that the lizards have a place to hide and a place to bask hence promoting thermoregulation and reducing pressure on the animal.

Water is life in the enclosure so ensure that you place it in a shallow dish so that the lizard can walk in and out without drowning. You have to remove the dish if you will be feeding the skinks live crickets.

Crickets will jump inside the dish and drown (Skinks do not eat dead prey). The other element is the temperature. You should always have two thermometers for purpose of having  the correct temperature is maintained.

The red-eyed crocodile skink does not like too much heat. If there is a lamp then ensure there is a hedge of protection that stops accidental burns. This should also be done for the basking lights but you can also just raise the lamp from the floor. Temperatures should not go beyond 72 degrees.

Everyone has an opinion about lighting. I have mine too. My skinks are healthy and none of them suffered from metabolic bone disease. I have no UV light, just a compact fluorescent light. The substrate should be appealing and easy to clean. A reptile carpet will do.

How to Breed your Red-Eyed Crocodile Skinks

You should note that red-eyed crocodile skinks are violent towards members in their similar sex unless it is a pair and their babies. These can actually live apart in the same enclosure.

Pairs will always be extremely aggressive especially when a baby is on the way. The red-eyed crocodile skink becomes sexually active from the ages of around 3 and 4 years.

Their throat color turns orange as they approach this age. The males are larger than the females but this is not always the case. Check the underside, male skinks are greyish blue and have raised pores.

The females have two ovaries but only the one on the right functions. The eggs in the left ovary travel from the left side to the right side if they are to stand a chance. The females lay up to six eggs. Each egg is laid and buried. This happens every week for six weeks.

Remember, they are not only shy but secretive. You should condition an adult pair  prior to breeding. Let them settle in their new environment. The period of pairing should be from June to September. Feeding is after one day.

How to care for Eggs and Crocodile Young ones

For the ultimate results in hatching, artificial incubation is recommended. You do this by removing the eggs from where the nest and transfer them, half-buried and slightly ventilated.

The container can be filled with some moist peat moss ( not wet ) but you should be careful not to reposition the egg from its original position. The juveniles must eat every day and their food should be dusted with calcium supplements during every other mealtime.

Water should not be added to the incubation medium unless necessary. An indented egg is dead or dehydrated. Sweating eggs are a common phenomenon but too much of it is a danger signal.

The egg incubation period could last up to 85 days at temperatures of around 73 to 81 degrees. The hatchlings come into the world weighing about 3 to 5 grams and are 6 to 8 centimeters long. They will start searching for food in hours. These wonderful creatures live up to 10 years in captivity.

Red-Eyed Crocodile Skink Ailments

Very little is known about diseases and parasites that could infect the red-eyed crocodile skink. What is known is that skinks can die suddenly even when healthy.

So you have to check several things when buying one as a pet. Examine it for any parasites. Check to see if it has any wounds or deformities. The eyes should be shiny and bright.

Study their demeanor. These guys are the masters of staying alert. They can play dead, try to run away or vocalize when handled.

The best step to take is to quarantine the new pet and ensure a fecal exam is done. Deworming comes high on my list. Ensure the skink gets its calcium and vitamin D3.

In Conclusion

The Red-Eyed crocodile skink is a wonderful creature that requires gentle hands. They do not bite and no, you can not handle them as a beginner.

They need a good pair of hands but once you keep one, you will love it. There is beauty in their mysterious lifestyle.

I hope this red-eyed crocodile skink care guide has been of great help and now that you are totally informed, your reptile pet keeping ways are truly reformed.

Sources:

  1. A terrestrial vertebrate palaeontological review of Aldabra Atoll, Aldabra Group, Seychelles 
  2. A Review of Welfare Assessment Methods in Reptiles – NCBI
  3. Cryptic diversity in Ptyodactylus (Reptilia – NCBI – NIH

Jason

Hi, I am a reptiles enthusiats. I'll espaicilly cover guides and DIYs on different Lizard species, Chameleon, Gecko. So, hang in there as we express our reptile pets' love.

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