How to Care for Your Red Eyed Crocodile Skink
Red eyed crocodile skinks (Tribolonotus gracils) are mid sized, terrestrial reptiles native to Indonesia and New Guinea. While they are definitely active at dawn and dusk, there is disagreement in the literature as to whether they are truly diurnal or nocturnal. They require high humidity to remain healthy. Crocodile skinks resemble tiny crocodiles more than they do skinks. They are brownish-gray with prominent scales and are notable for the bright red-orange rings around their eyes. They are fairly secretive animals and require adequate places to hide. Red eyed crocodile skinks are considered to be an intermediate to advanced level pet. They are not fans of being handled and will often freeze when picked up, this is a sign that they are unhappy and wish to be put back.
A 20 gallon long tank (30”x12”x12”) or equivalent sized plastic tub is considered adequate for 1- 2 Red eyed Crocodile Skinks, though a larger enclosure is preferred. Although Red eyed Crocodile Skinks generally don’t climb, it’s important that the enclosure have a lid to keep other animals or curious children out. In order to provide the high humidity needed, coco-fiber or mulch substrate is preferred. The substrate and cage should be kept moist rather than soaking wet through judicious misting. The enclosure should be furnished with a variety of ground level hiding places so the Skinks can feel safe. A shallow water dish large enough to contain the entire Skink should be included. The dish should be deep enough for the Skink to soak, but not so deep as to require swimming or else the Skink may drown. Low branches or other easy climbing surfaces should be added under the lights to provide a basking option. If mealworms or other worms are to be provided, a food dish is necessary as well.
Crocodile skinks do best in 80-95% humidity, this can be difficult to maintain but is important. Covering part of their enclosure can help keep moisture in as well as misting several times per day help achieve this. You can always use an automatic mister in order to make the job easier.
Heating and Lighting
As mentioned above, there seems to be some disagreement as to whether Red eyed Crocodile
Skinks are diurnal or nocturnal. Consequently, it’s useful to provide a full spectrum light as a source of vitamin D3 and a basking option. The recommended UVB light is a full-spectrum 10.0 (or 5.0 if the enclosure isn’t very tall) fluorescent bulb that runs most of the length of the enclosure. The fixture can be placed inside the cage underneath the cover or on top of a mesh cover. If the fixture is placed on top of the cage, a glass cage cover should not be used, since the UVB will not penetrate through the glass. Florescent bulbs decrease in the amount of UVB emitted with time. It’s safest to replace the bulb every 6 months, though a more accurate schedule can be determined if a UV meter is purchased and used to check UV levels. Heat usually provided by means of an under tank heater (UTH), which is placed on the bottom of one side of the enclosure to create a “temperature gradient” from hot side to cool side. The temperature on the bottom of the enclosure on the hot side should be approximately 82F, and the cool side should be at approximately 72F. A UTH will require a thermostat or a rheostat to regulate the temperature.
Food and Supplementation
Red eyed Crocodile Skinks are primarily insectivorous (insect eating), though some are fed newborn “pinkie” mice on occasion as adults. They are generally attracted only to live food. Most Red eyed Crocodile Skinks in the United States are fed a staple diet of mealworms, crickets or Dubia Roaches. Hatchlings can start with 1⁄4” crickets or Dubia Roaches, or small mealworms and progress to full-sized mealworms and crickets, and medium sized Dubia Roaches after about 6 weeks. As is the case for most reptiles, Red eyed Crocodile Skinks will thrive on a variety of other bugs and worms including small superworms, hornworms, silkworms, NutriGrubs (black soldier fly larvae, also known as phoenix worms), and locusts. Care should be taken to feed appropriate sized prey and not to leave prey in the enclosure for long periods of time. Red eyed Crocodile Skinks require calcium to build strong bones, vitamin D3 to metabolize the calcium and a variety of other vitamins and minerals. Although they may get some of their Vitamin D3 needs met by basking under a full spectrum light, it’s also recommended to dust their prey with calcium, vitamin D3 and other vitamins using a commercially available product every feeding for juveniles and every other feeding for adults.
*This care sheet contains only very basic information. If you are new to Red Eyed Crocodile Skinks, please do additional research to obtain additional information from more detailed care sheets.