How to Care for Your Pacific Blue-Tailed Skink
Pacific blue-tailed skinks (Emoia caeruleocauda) are small, diurnal, semiarboreal lizards native to the eastern half of Indonesia. They can be found on all kinds of terrain within their tropical forest habitat, from the forest floor to thin branches and leaves in the canopy.
Pacific blue-tailed skinks are typically around 6” long, with most of that length being tail. They have a narrow tapered head, brown eyes with round pupils, smooth scales, and long toes. They have a brown-black base color interrupted by three to five golden stripes extending from the lizard’s snout to the base of its tail, which is blue and may have black striping. This species is known to lose their vibrant color with age, and older individuals may be brown with or without their stripes.
These skinks are intermediate-level pet reptiles due to their low handleability and sensitivity to poor husbandry. Life expectancy is unknown.
How much space do Pacific blue-tailed skinks need?
Pacific blue-tailed skinks are active lizards which need plenty of space for running around and climbing. A single skink should be housed in no smaller than an 18”L x 18”W x 24”H terrarium, and larger is always better!
Cohabitation (keeping multiple Pacific blue-tailed skinks together) can work for this species, as long as males are not housed together. Up to 3 skinks can be housed in the abovementioned enclosure dimensions. However, it is not required for their wellbeing, and they can be housed solitary just fine. Do not house males and females together without the intent to breed.
Do Pacific blue-tailed skinks need UVB?
Pacific blue-tailed skinks require exposure to UVB light for their survival, and also benefit from bright plant grow lights in their environment. Lights should be on for 12 hours/day and turned off at night.
The best UVB bulbs for Pacific blue-tailed skinks are:
- Zoo Med Compact Coil Reptisun 10.0, 26w — 5” above basking branch
- Zoo Med T8 Reptisun 10.0, 18” — 5” above basking branch
The UVB bulb should be housed in a reflective fixture and placed close to the heat lamp over the mesh at the top of the enclosure. UVB is blocked by glass and plastic, so you can’t give your skink UVB by placing its terrarium in front of an open window. If you notice that your pet likes to crawl upside-down on the underside of the mesh top, you will need to use blocks to lift the UVB fixture further away from the lizard.
As day-active lizards, Pacific blue-tailed skinks also benefit from a 6500K LED or T5 HO fluorescent grow light to provide extra bright light in the enclosure and better simulate the effects of the sun. This is particularly necessary if you want to have live plants as part of the enclosure.
What basking temperatures do Pacific blue-tailed skinks need?
Pacific blue-tailed skinks should have a basking temperature of 95°F, as measured by a digital probe thermometer with the probe placed on the basking surface. There should be a cooler area on the opposite side of the enclosure that stays between 75-85°F.
Provide heat for your skink by imitating the sun with a couple of low-wattage incandescent heat lamps installed in a hood fixture (not dome lamp). Do not use ceramic heat emitters (CHEs), red bulbs, or blue bulbs, as these are not as effective. The basking surface should be a sturdy branch.
The heat source should be turned off at night. Nighttime temperatures can drop as low as 68°F, but should be no warmer than 77°F.
What humidity levels do Pacific blue-tailed skinks need?
Pacific blue-tailed skinks need a high humidity environment for best health. Average humidity should be between 60-80% during the day, rising to near 100% at night. You can monitor humidity levels with a digital probe hygrometer with the probe in the middle of the terrarium.
Misting your skink’s enclosure with a sprayer first thing in the morning and again in the evening will help create the right humidity levels. It also provides an important source of drinking water! If you need more humidity, use a reptile fogger at night.
What substrate is good for Pacific blue-tailed skinks?
Substrate covers the floor of your skink’s terrarium and helps make the enclosure more attractive, but it also helps maintain humidity. It’s ideal to use a substrate that imitates the “substrate” that the reptile naturally lives on in the wild. For Pacific blue-tailed skinks, that means it should resemble tropical soil. It should have small particles and hold moisture well.
We recommend the following substrates for Pacific blue-tailed skinks:
- Zoo Med Eco Earth
- Zoo Med ReptiSoil
- Exo Terra Plantation Soil
- Zilla Jungle Mix
Layering clean, chemical-free leaf litter on top of the substrate can also help with humidity.
Substrate should be at least 2” deep and completely replaced every 3-4 months. Remove poop and urates daily, along with contaminated substrate.
What décor can you use in a Pacific blue-tailed skink terrarium?
It’s terribly boring for a lizard to be stuck in an enclosure with nothing in it except substrate and food/water bowls. It doesn’t matter how big the enclosure is if you don’t put things in it for your pet to use and interact with.
At bare minimum, you will need a branch for your skink to climb and bask on and some live or artificial foliage for it to hide in. However, it’s best to include other items, such as:
- live or artificial plants
- textured background
What do Pacific blue-tailed skinks eat?
Pacific blue-tailed skinks are primarily insectivorous, which means that they need to eat insects (preferably live) in order to get the nutrition that their bodies need. How often they need to eat depends on age: Juveniles should be fed daily but fully-grown adults can be fed only every other day. Offer as many insects per feeding as the skink will eat within about 5 minutes.
Feeder insects for Pacific blue-tailed skinks eat: dubias, discoids, red head roaches, crickets, small hornworms, small silkworms, mealworms, small earthworms, flies
As an occasional treat, you can offer your skink some crested gecko food.
You will also need calcium and vitamin supplements to prevent your skink from developing a deficiency. We recommend Repashy Calcium Plus LoD, lightly dusted on all of your pet’s feeder insects.
Although your skink will get most of its drinking water from daily mistings, it’s a good idea to also provide a wall-mounted water dish. Change the water daily and scrub the bowl with a reptile-safe disinfectant weekly, or whenever it becomes soiled.
Do Pacific blue-tailed skinks like to be handled?
Few reptiles actually “like” to be held, and Pacific blue-tailed skinks aren’t one of them. Instead of interacting with your pet by holding it, try hand-feeding it instead with a pair of feeding tweezers.
*This care sheet contains only very basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please do further research with high-quality sources to obtain additional information on caring for this species.
"File:Emoia caeruleocauda - Manado.JPG" by Ariefrahman is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.