The emerald tree skink (Lamprolepis smaragdina) is an 8.5-10” long, diurnal, arboreal lizard native to the islands of southeast Asia. They prefer tropical forests for habitat, spending most of their time climbing up and down tree trunks to bask and hunt prey.
Emerald tree skinks have robust bodies with a sharply taped head, large black eyes, glossy scales, and long toes. They are best known for their bright green color, but some are half or even entirely brown instead, and others have black speckling or brown hind legs.
Emerald tree skinks are intermediate-level reptiles that can make lively, entertaining pets when kept properly. Maximum lifespan is not well known, but it should be at least 7 years.
Minimum terrarium size for emerald tree skinks
The absolute minimum terrarium size for a single emerald tree skink is 18”L x 18”W x 36”H. Of course, larger is always better! These skinks like being up high and having plenty of vertical space.
Housing multiple emerald tree skinks in the same terrarium is not required for their wellbeing, but if you wish to keep a group of them, they generally get along well. However, do not house males and females together unless you plan to breed.
Do emerald tree skinks need UVB?
Yes! Emerald tree skinks require UVB lighting for their survival. UVB lighting helps provide a clear day/night cycle, provides all of the vitamin D that your pet needs, strengthens the immune system, facilitates better digestion, and other benefits.
The best UVB bulbs for emerald tree skinks are:
- Arcadia ShadeDweller Kit — 6” above basking branch
- Arcadia T5 HO 6% — 8” above basking branch
For best results, house the UVB bulbs in an Arcadia or Vivarium Electronics fixture, and it should be roughly the same width as the enclosure. UVB is blocked by glass and plastic, so placing the terrarium in front of a window doesn’t count as “free UVB” — in fact it can make your terrarium too hot due to the greenhouse effect. Don’t forget to replace your bulb every 12 months!
Emerald tree skinks are also likely to benefit from plant grow lights as part of their environment as well. Add a ~6500K LED or T5 HO fluorescent grow lamp to provide extra illumination, as well as help any live plants in the terrarium to thrive.
Lights should be on for 12 hours/day.
Best temperature for emerald tree skinks
Emerald tree skinks should have a basking temperature of around 95°F, as measured by a digital probe thermometer with the probe placed on the basking surface. In order to allow for proper thermoregulation, the enclosure should also have a cool area that stays between 75-85°F. Nighttime temps can drop as low as 68°F.
Provide heat for your skink with a halogen heat bulb. Halogen bulbs are the best way to imitate the warmth of sunlight indoors, and considered to be a superior form of reptile heating by experts. Do not use ceramic heat emitters (CHEs), red bulbs, or blue bulbs, as these are not as effective.
Heat sources should be turned off at night.
Best humidity levels for emerald tree skinks
Emerald tree skinks are a tropical species, so the humidity inside their enclosure should be fairly high: 70-80%. Humidity should be measured via digital probe hygrometer, with the probe placed in the middle of the terrarium.
Increase humidity by misting your skink’s enclosure 1-2x/day with a spray bottle. Mist first thing in the morning and then again at night if needed. Aside from raising humidity, this also provides your pet with an important source of drinking water!
Best substrate for emerald tree skinks
Providing a layer of naturalistic substrate (“bedding”) will help maintain correct humidity levels and also helps make your enclosure more attractive! We recommend the following substrates for emerald tree skinks:
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.
How to decorate an emerald tree skink terrarium
An empty terrarium makes for a bored skink, reducing its quality of life. Keep your pet entertained and engaged with its environment with the strategic use of décor items that encourage it to exercise natural behaviors!
Since emerald tree skinks are arboreal, 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:
What to feed to an emerald tree skink
Emerald tree skinks are insectivores, which means that they need to get the majority of their nutrition from insects. Juveniles should be fed daily, while adults can be fed every other day. Offer as many insects as the skink will eat in a ~5 minute period. For best results, offer as wide of a variety of prey as possible.
You will also need calcium and vitamin supplements to help keep your skink healthy. We recommend Repashy Calcium Plus LoD, lightly dusted on all feeder insects. It’s okay to occasionally skip a dusting.
How to handle your emerald tree skink
Reptiles generally don’t appreciate petting and handling in the same way that dogs and cats do. Emerald tree skinks are one of the types of reptiles that are best to leave alone rather than attempt to handle regularly. If you want to interact with your pet, try hand-feeding it with a pair of feeding tweezers.
*This care sheet contains only very basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please further your research with high-quality sources. The more you know, the better you will be able to care for your pet!