How to Care for Your Schneider’s Skink
Schneider’s skinks (Eumeces schneiderii) are also known as Berber skinks and golden skinks. They are a medium-large, diurnal, terrestrial lizards native to northern Africa through central Asia. They tend to prefer semi-arid to arid habitats with stony soil and sparse to moderate plant cover.
Schneider’s skinks vary significantly by subspecies and locality. They generally grow 12-18” long, although as large as 20” has been reported. This species has a robust body with a short triangular head, short limbs, and long tail. Coloring is typically pale beneath and silver to olive brown above, with orange stripes or spots along the back and tail, and an orange or yellow stripe down the sides. Some individuals may have a yellow throat. Juveniles have an ocellated pattern.
Schneider’s skinks are intermediate-level pets that may be tamed with patient and consistent effort. With appropriate care, they may live 15 years or longer.
How much space do Schneider’s skinks need?
The appropriate minimum enclosure size for a Schneider’s skink varies based on their adult size. For skinks under 14”, no smaller than a 36”L x 18”W x 16”H enclosure should be used. For skinks that grow larger, use a 48”L x 24”W x 24”H enclosure. Of course, larger is always better!
Cohabitation (keeping multiple Schneider’s skinks in the same terrarium) is not required for their wellbeing, and they can be housed by themselves perfectly fine. However, they can be housed together for breeding purposes with one male and two females.
Do Schneider’s skinks need UVB?
Schneider’s skinks are diurnal, which means that they are most active during the day. This means that high-quality UVB lighting is a requirement for keeping them healthy in captivity. Aside from helping provide a day/night cycle, UVB is also good for your skink’s overall wellbeing.
The best UVB bulbs for Schneider’s skinks in a 16-18” tall enclosure are:
- Arcadia T5 HO Forest 6%, 7-9” above the basking surface
- Zoo Med T5 HO Reptisun 5.0, 7-9” above the basking surface
The best UVB bulbs for Schneider’s skinks in a 24” tall enclosure are:
- Arcadia T5 HO Desert 12%, 13-15” above the basking surface
- Zoo Med T5 HO Reptisun 10.0, 13-15” above the basking surface
The UVB bulb should be roughly half the length of the enclosure and housed in an Arcadia or Vivarium Electronics fixture with a reflector. Place the fixture on the basking side along with the heat lamp. If the lamp is not placed over mesh in a 24” tall enclosure, the basking distance should be increased to 17-18”.
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. This can also make your enclosure dangerously hot by creating a greenhouse effect! Also make sure that the fixture your UVB bulb is in does not have a clear plastic or glass bulb cover.
Lights should be on for 14 hours/day during winter, and 10 hours/day during summer to simulate seasonal changes in day length. Alternatively, a smart timer can be used to sync your skink’s lamps to local sunrise and sunset times.
What basking temperatures do Schneider’s skinks need?
Schneider’s skinks should have a basking surface temperature of 105-115°F, as measured by an infrared temperature gun pointed at the substrate or stone directly under the heat lamp. There should also be a cooler area on the opposite side of the enclosure that stays between 75-85°F. Heat sources should be turned off at night, but nighttime temperatures should not fall lower than 65°F.
It’s best practice to provide heat for your skink with one or two low-wattage halogen heat lamps. This should be housed in a ceramic-socket dome fixture and placed on one side of the enclosure, next to the UVB lamp. If it's too warm, try a plug-in lamp dimmer or rheostat. If it's too cool, you need a higher-wattage bulb. Do not use ceramic heat emitters (CHEs), red bulbs, or blue bulbs, as these are not as effective.
What humidity levels do Schneider’s skinks need?
Schneider’s skinks do best with a low average humidity under 50%. Use a digital probe hygrometer with the probe in the middle of the terrarium to measure humidity levels. However, the enclosure can be misted weekly with a pressure sprayer.
What substrate is good for Schneider’s skinks?
Substrate covers the floor of your skink’s terrarium and helps make the enclosure more attractive, but it also cushions your skink’s body and provides something for them to dig in. It’s ideal to use a substrate that imitates the “substrate” that the reptile naturally lives on in the wild. For Schneider’s skinks, that means sand or sandy soil.
We recommend the following substrates for Schneider’s skinks:
- Zoo Med ReptiSand
- Exo Terra Desert Sand
Substrate should be at least 4” deep and completely replaced every 3-4 months. Remove poop and urates daily, along with contaminated substrate.
What décor can you use in a Schneider’s skink terrarium?
It’s terribly boring (and stressful!) 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.
Here are some ideas:
- sturdy logs and branches
- stacks of flat rocks
- additional hides
- drought-tolerant live or artificial plants
It’s best practice to cover three sides of the enclosure to help the skink feel more secure in its environment!
What do Schneider’s skinks eat?
Schneider’s skinks are primarily insectivorous, which means that they need to eat insects (live) in order to get the nutrition that their bodies need. How often and how much they need to eat depends on age:
- Juveniles — daily
- Adults — 2-3x/week
Offer as many insects as they can eat in a 5-minute period.
Feeder insects for Schneider’s skinks: dubias, discoids, crickets, black soldier fly larvae, mealworms, superworms, hornworms, silkworms, darkling beetles
Schneider’s skinks may also accept occasional treats of chopped fruit.
You will need calcium and vitamin supplements to help prevent your lizard from developing a deficiency. We recommend Repashy Calcium Plus LoD, lightly dusted on all of your lizard’s feeder insects. It’s okay to skip a dusting every once in a while.
Provide a medium water bowl where your lizard can always get a drink when needed. Change the water daily and scrub the bowl with a reptile-safe disinfectant weekly, or whenever it becomes soiled.
Do Schneider’s skinks like to be handled?
Few reptiles actually “like” to be held, but with patient effort, Schneider’s skinks can become accustomed to handling. You can start developing a bond with your skink by offering food via soft-tipped feeding tongs. Whenever possible, never grab your skink. Instead, scoop them from below, or better yet, encourage them to come to you.
*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.
“Photo 106769310” by Johnny Baakliny is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0