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Berber Skink

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Species group:

Other common names: Schneider's Skink; Dotted Skink

Scientific name: Eumeces schneideri

The basics:
This Berber Skink is a colorful skink which is found from Northern Africa east to central Asia. They inhabit dry, rocky terrain and burrow into the sand. They are omnivorous, and feed on small insects as well as plant material.

Most Eumeces schneideri in the pet trade have been wild caught, but most have mellow personalities, and get used to handling quite quickly. They can live to 20 years in captivity.

Appearance / health:
The Schneider’s Skink is a medium sized lizard that reaches between 13-18 inches. Their bodies are long and tubular like, with the primary color being a sand like - tan color. Orange and yellow markings as well as a solid yellow stripe along the side of the lizard are also present. They have short limbs and clawed fingers for digging sand.

Behavior / temperament:
If you want a reptile to hold and pet, a Schneider’s Skink may not be a good choice. They are best as display pets to watch and observe. If you try to restrain them while handling, they will empty their cloaca (vent) which is a defense mechanism that they use to deter predators. They are also very fast and not good climbers so handling is not recommended. However, these do make interesting pets that anyone can enjoy.

Housing:
A 20 gallon long tank is the minimum for one skink. A pair can be kept in a slightly larger tank that gives more floor space; for example - 40 gallon breeder tank. A secure lid is needed.

Temperatures overall inside the tank should be between 85-90F with a basking area that reaches from 90-105F. Nighttime temperatures can safely drop down to 65F. A high output UVB bulb and light fixture are necessary for the well being of this skink. The basking area can be achieved by getting a ceramic heat emitter, a reptile basking bulb, or a high wattage house flood bulb in a dome fixture. An accurate digital thermometer with a probe is also needed to accurately record and maintain temperatures. If temperatures at night drop below 65F, an infrared (nocturnal) bulb, a ceramic heat emitter, or an under tank heater can be used (never use heat rocks as they will burn). Create a 12 hr day and 12 hr night schedule by setting up a timer for the lights. Substrate to use can be washed children’s play sand. Pet stores sell sand, but this is not recommended, instead use the play sand available at hardware stores (children’s play sand is less likely to cause impactions, and is also cheaper.) Substrate depth should be between 3-5 inches deep as these skinks will burrow under the sand at night. Food and water dishes should be provided and cleaned frequently. Sand should also be spot cleaned and changed out when needed. Tank décor can be anything from pre-made hiding areas, drift wood, bark, rocks, fake plants, etc.

Diet:
The bulk of the diet should consist of insects; crickets, meal worms, super worms, wax worms, and others. They also can be offered high quality low fat dog or cat food occasionally. Kale, collared greens, carrots, and fruits should also be offered. Newly hatched skinks need to be offered tiny foods such as flightless fruit flies and pin head crickets along with the fruits, veggies, and high quality dog or cat food.

Breeding:
These skinks are not commonly bred in captivity but like most lizards, the male will attempt to breed and will bite the females neck and try to position himself for mating. If the female is not receptive she will fight off his advances. The mating process can last minutes to an hour or less. If breeding was successful, eggs will be laid 4-6 weeks later. Clutches can be from 1-5 eggs. Mating occurs once every 3 years for this skink. Once eggs are laid, immediately take them out. Do not turn the eggs, mark the side facing up with a marker and when moving them, keep that mark facing up or the embryo will die. The way the female laid them, is the way they need to be kept. A store bought incubator or home made incubator will be needed for the rest of the hatching process. The eggs need to be kept warm and moist. If incubated properly, the eggs will hatch 7-10 weeks later. They need to go into their own enclosure and not placed in with the adults as they will kill them. Tank should be set up much like the adults.

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