As a seasoned reptile keeper with over two decades of experience under my belt, I’ve cared for an extensive array of reptiles, each unique and captivating in their own right. But among the colorful corn snakes, graceful geckos, and tenacious turtles I’ve had the pleasure of nurturing, one creature holds a distinct place in my heart — the Red-eyed Crocodile Skink (Tribolonotus gracilis) .
So, are crocodile skinks good pets? In my humble opinion, they are more than just ‘good’; they are exceptional, but they do require a refined touch and an empathetic understanding of their needs.
Unearthing the Appeal of Crocodile Skinks
Named for their crocodile-like armor and dragon-shaped heads, crocodile skinks carry an allure of prehistoric charm. Just one look at these unique creatures can instantly transport you to an era when dinosaurs walked the Earth.
Owning one is akin to having a miniature dinosaur or dragon of your own, making it a fascinating journey full of intrigue and learning.
These endearing creatures are naturally shy, often preferring the comfort of their hideouts to open spaces. In fact, most people who live in New Guinea – their native range – never even see them unless they disturb a pile of coconut shells.
However, their instinctual habit of playing dead when frightened can be a little unsettling to the uninitiated. But once you get to know them, this behavior becomes another fascinating facet of their survival instincts.
Although they might not be as interactive as traditional pets, crocodile skinks are still extremely rewarding captives. They’re not going to get to know you like a dog or cat would, but just seeing them is pretty amazing if you’re a reptile enthusiast.
Understanding the Care for Crocodile Skinks
As enthralling as they are, it’s critical to understand that crocodile skinks are not a beginner’s pet. They require a carefully controlled environment with specific humidity and temperature needs. Failing to maintain these environmental factors can lead to serious health complications, underscoring their care’s delicate nature.
Let’s try to summarize here:
- If you get them too hot – they’ll die
- Handle them too often – they’ll die
- Let their enclosure get too dry – they’ll die
Get the picture? Don’t get me wrong, they won’t drop dead in a matter of minutes. They are delicate though, and you can run into trouble with them if a husbandry error lasts more than 24hrs.
A vital part of my journey with crocodile skinks has been understanding their dietary needs. These creatures primarily feast on small insects, which demands a meticulous approach to their feeding.
Knowing what to feed them, how much to feed, and when to feed is essential to their health and wellbeing. Understanding their eating habits is an essential aspect of building a healthy relationship with them.
They love bugs, but are also pretty slow-moving. Meal worms are ideal prey, but should be offered in a shallow bowl so they can’t just burrow into the substrate and disappear.
The Rewards of Owning Crocodile Skinks
The question remains, are crocodile skinks good pets? In my experience, their care may require a delicate balance, but the rewards far outweigh the challenges.
Each day with my crocodile skinks is an adventure in understanding and appreciating the miracles of nature. Observing their habits, deciphering their needs, and watching them grow in a healthy environment is an enriching experience that not many other pets can provide.
They have taught me the value of patience and the joy of quiet companionship. Even after twenty years of reptile keeping, they continue to surprise me with their intelligence and survival instincts. Their distinctive charm and secretive nature make every moment spent in their care worthwhile.
Are Crocodile Skinks good pets? Final thoughts…
Why I like Crocodile Skinks:
- They have a unique appearance, with their orange-bordered eyes
- Size – they never get bigger than around 8”, and only need a 10 or 20 gallon tank
- They are a gentle species
Why you should think twice about getting one:
- Crocodile Skinks hate being handled! Ignore the photos of people handling them online – they find it stressful and it can affect their health
- They will die if you keep them too warm (above 81-82F), or too dry
- Captive-bred individuals may be hard to find
If you’re a reptile enthusiast willing to understand and cater to their specific needs, crocodile skinks can make great pets. They are fascinating creatures, full of surprises and delight. With the right knowledge and approach to their care, they can become a great addition to your collection.
However, it’s crucial to remember that these are delicate creatures that need constant attention and care. They may not be suitable for someone looking for a low-maintenance pet or someone new to reptile keeping. Their care requires a commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
In conclusion, crocodile skinks are indeed excellent pets, but they are not for everyone. If you’re a seasoned reptile keeper looking for a unique challenge or an avid learner ready to dive deep into the world of reptile care, crocodile skinks can offer a rewarding and educational experience.
Remember, as with all pets, doing your research before welcoming a crocodile skink into your home is crucial. With patience, dedication, and a willingness to understand their unique needs, you can enjoy the rewarding experience of owning a crocodile skink.
FAQ related to Crocodile Skinks:
Do crocodile skinks like being handled?
Crocodile Skinks genuinely dislike being handled. I’ve tried picking them up before and they just go stiff all over. This is a clear sign of distress, and means they are very uncomfortable. I recommend only handling this species for essential purposes. One example would be to move them while cleaning the enclosure.
Are crocodile skinks hard to take care of?
Crocodile Skinks are not hard to take care of, but they are delicate. They require low temperatures and high humidity compared with other pet lizards like Bearded Dragons, for example. If you get either of these parameters wrong, they will die. Most keepers agree that temperatures over 81-82F are dangerous to their health.
Is it legal to own a crocodile skink?
It is legal to own a Crocodile Skink because they are listed as least concern by the IUCN. This means there is no restriction on keeping them based on their wild status. That said, you should still avoid wild-caught animals, which may be in poor condition.
Do crocodile skinks bite?
Crocodile Skinks don’t bite, or at least not in my experience. They do sometimes make strange little squeaking sounds when you pick them up, though. Overall, their main defences are going stiff or playing dead.