Skinks are pretty common animals. You have likely already seen one in your backyard since these lizards love to spend their days basking in the warm sun. These lizards are part of the Scincidae family and are not part of the ‘true lizard’ family because they usually have smaller limbs while some have no limbs at all.
The smallest skink species are just about 7.5cm tall while bigger species like the Solomon island skink can grow up to 35cm long.
Unlike most animals, the skink doesn’t have red blood. This animal’s blood is green because its blood cells contain lots of biliverdin waste.
They are commonly seen around human dwellings because these clever reptiles know that lots of food items will be attracted by your home lights at night. These lizards also have a clever defensive mechanism. When skinks are threatened by predators, they will shed their tails so the predator will go after the tail while the skink gets away.
Skinks are carnivores and most of these are insectivores. They only eat meat and insects but they do still eat a huge variety of food types. Even though skinks are mostly insectivores, they sometimes can feed on plant matter. Here is a quick look at some of the foods these animals enjoy eating.
All skink species love to eat insects. This is the primary food source for most species. Skinks can eat a huge variety of insect types including flies, cockroaches, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, earthworms, millipedes, centipedes, snails, slugs, mosquitos, and many others.
Skinks can be taught to feed on dead insects but ideally, they prefer live food. If you are feeding a pet skink then it is best to catch live insects or to buy live insects like mealworms, crickets, or earthworms from your local pet store.
Some skinks enjoy eating smaller species of lizards. Gravid skinks can also become cannibalistic if they are in a bad situation where other foods might be scarce in which case they might eat their young or their own species.
Larger skink species can learn to catch and eat small rodents or pinkies – the young of rodents. Small rodents like mice can be a very filling treat for bigger skink species but this isn’t one of the most common foods for these animals.
Larger skink species like the blue tongue skink can also be offered other meats like chicken and rabbit that have been cut into thin strips.
Some skink species are omnivores. Omnivore skink species can be offered 60% fruits and vegetables and 40% insects. Skinks usually cannot eat raw vegetables but they do enjoy eating cooked vegetables like carrots, pumpkin, cabbage, and many others.
Blue Tongue skinks are quite fond of collard greens, dandelion greens, green beans, arugula, mustard greens, end vine, apples, berries squash, papaya, and a few other types.
Omnivorous skinks are especially fond of bananas and strawberries but it is important not to offer citrus fruits because these fruits can kill your skink.
Some skinks might also enjoy leafy greens like salad leaves or asparagus.
Pet skinks can sometimes become calcium deficient. If this happens, they can become cannibalistic or they might get ill. Bone meal is a great supplement to offer your skinks to ensure that they get enough nutrients. You can offer bone meal by dusting your insects before offering these to your pet skink.
Skinks also enjoy drinking water. If you are building a skink terrarium then you should include a water pit for your skinks and remember to offer fresh water every day. Some skinks even enjoy a refreshing swim if they start to feel too warm.
Not all skink species are willing to eat meat products like small animals and not all skinks are willing to eat plant matter. But some species have digestive systems that can adapt to these different foods.
The biggest diet variation these lizards have is that they sometimes become cannibalistic in harsh conditions.
Before you start feeding your skink, you should properly identify its species so you will know whether it is an insectivore, omnivore or carnivore. Once you have identified the species, you should offer it the right food ratio. Insectivore skinks will only feed on insects but you still need to offer them a variety of food types.
Omnivore skinks should be offered 60% plant matter and 40% veggie matter and carnivore skinks should be offered insects with meat as an occasional treat.
In the wild, skinks can only feed on foods they find in their natural habitat. Many skinks like the skinks you see in your garden do however live close to human households because they know all too well that insects are attracted to light. In the wild, skinks mostly feed on insects like earthworms, crickets, butterflies, flies, grasshoppers, and caterpillars. Some wild skinks might also feed on fruits that they find in the wild or on fruit farms.
Skinks have become quite popular as pets these past few years. Most pet owners prefer to keep omnivore skink species because these tend to be a little bit easier to feed.
Insectivore skinks are usually fed on a variety of insect types that are sold in pet stores. Insects like crickets, grasshoppers, mealworms, and other types of insects. If your skink is taught to eat dead insects then you can buy frozen ones and offer these to your pet skink but in most cases, these lizards prefer their dinner live and running.
Omnivore skinks can be offered a ratio of 60% vegetables and fruits and 40% insects. The best way to offer vegetables is cooked but you can offer fruits as long as you avoid offering citrus fruits. You can also offer any type of insect so your skink will get lots of nutrients.
It is always best to keep a bit of bone meal close by if you have a pet skink. Dip insects in a bit of bone meal before offering these to your skink so your animal can stay healthy and happy.
A baby skink is called a skinklet. Most skink species develop from eggs but some species are ovoviviparous and give birth to live skinklets.
Skinklets are usually independent from the moment they are born. These reptiles can eat the same foods as adult skinks but usually need smaller pieces or smaller insects because they also need to swallow their food whole.
Skinks do not need to eat every single day. All foods you offer these reptiles should be fresh and ideally, you should feed your skink every one to two days. If your skink doesn’t eat a lot today, it will need food tomorrow again. But if your skink eats a large portion today, then you can go ahead and skip a day before offering it food again.
Some skink types like garden skinks enjoy eating various ant species. Skinklets also love to eat ants because these insects are small enough to swallow with ease. Skinks do however need more than just ants to stay nourished. Ideally, they should be offered a balanced meal.
Yes, some skinks do eat geckos but only if these animals are small enough for them to swallow. Large geckos might be too powerful and can easily get away. Skinks will also feed on the tails that geckos leave behind as a defence mechanism to get away.
All lizard species do bite but skinks do not bite too often and they hardly ever bite out of the blue. These lizards usually only bite when they are handled too rough or if they are threatened. The bites are also not too painful and they don’t have any fangs or teeth that can cause injuries.
Some species of skink like the blue tongue skink do enjoy eating fruits. But it is important not to offer citrus fruits. Citrus fruits can make your skink very ill. Ideally, you should offer sweet fruits like berries, strawberries, or bananas.
Yes, skinks do eat cockroaches but only roaches that are small enough for them to swallow. Cockroaches are a very good food source since these insects are fairly easy to breed and they are usually available at pet shops.
Yes, skinks do eat worms. They enjoy eating all sorts of worms such as caterpillars, earthworms, mealworms, and many others. Ideally, you should offer the worms alive but some skinks can be taught to eat dead worms.
Larger skink species like the blue tongue skink can sometimes eat small animals like mice. Pet owners also sometimes kill the mice before offering it to their skinks just to make sure that the mice won’t harm their beloved pets.