The gidgee skink (Egernia stokesii) is a 7-10” long, diurnal, terrestrial lizard native to Australia. They prefer arid to semi-arid habitats with plenty of rocks for cover, as they spend most of their time in crevices, although they will also hide among fallen timber in dry forests.
Gidgee skinks have stout bodies with a small head, short limbs, long toes, and short tail. Their body is covered with small spines that become longer and more pronounced on the tail. Coloring and pattern varies by subspecies, and they can range from being reddish brown to almost completely black.
Gidgee skinks are pet reptiles with intermediate-level requirements. With good care, they can live 20+ years.
Minimum terrarium size for gidgee skinks
The absolute minimum enclosure size for a single gidgee skink is 36”L x 18”W x 16”H. Of course, if you can manage it, larger is always better! Extra height is particularly appreciated, as this species is a skilled climber.
Unlike most reptiles, gidgee skinks can be housed together quite successfully, as they’re naturally social. A larger enclosure than mentioned above will be needed for housing multiple skinks — 36”L x 18”W x 36”H can house up to three. To minimize the chances of conflict, raise multiple juveniles together rather than throwing multiple strange adults into the same enclosure.
Do gidgee skinks need UVB?
Yes! Although they have been proven to survive and breed without access to UVB, using UVB light in captivity is still best practice. UVB lighting helps provide a clear day/night cycle, supplies all of the vitamin D that your pet needs, strengthens the immune system, facilitates better digestion, and provides other benefits.
Here are the best UVB bulbs for gidgee skinks:
- Zoo Med Reptisun T5 HO 5.0
- Arcadia Forest 6%
For best results, house the UVB bulbs in a reflective fixture like the Arcadia ProT5. Position the lamp on the same side of the terrarium as the heat lamp. The UVB lamp should be mounted inside the enclosure, with the basking platform placed so the lizard’s back will be 6-9” below the lamp if it’s on top of mesh, or 11-12” below the lamp without mesh.
Gidgees 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 enclosure to thrive.
Lights should be on for 10 hours/day during winter and 14 hours/day during summer to simulate seasonal changes in day length. All lamps should be turned off at night.
Best temperature for gidgee skinks
Gidgee skinks should have a basking surface temperature of 110-120°F, as measured by an infrared thermometer. The basking surface should be a flat piece of stone, wood, or Retes Stack. The cool side should be around 80°F. Providing an escape from the heat is essential for healthy thermoregulation.
Provide heat for your skink with at least one halogen heat bulb placed above the basking platform. Halogen bulbs are the best way to imitate the warmth of sunlight indoors, and considered to be a superior form of daytime reptile heating by experts.
All heating and lighting should be turned off at night. If you need nighttime heat to keep ambient temps above 70°F, add a lightless heat source such as a ceramic heat emitter or radiant heat panel connected to a thermostat.
Best humidity levels for gidgee skinks
Gidgee skinks prefer a moderate-humidity environment with free access to a humid burrow. Air humidity should be between 40-60%, and measured by a digital probe thermometer in the middle of the enclosure. The skink should always have access to a humid burrow on the cool end of the enclosure.
Lightly mist the enclosure with water each morning, and make sure the substrate under/inside the humid burrow is kept clean and damp.
Best substrate for gidgee skinks
Providing a layer of naturalistic substrate (“bedding”) in the enclosure will help maintain correct humidity, cushion the lizard’s body, provide a digging medium, and also help make your enclosure more attractive!
We recommend the following substrates for gidgee skinks:
Alternatively, you can mix 60% clean topsoil with 40% play sand.
Substrate should be at least 4” deep and completely replaced every 3-4 months. Remove poop and urates daily, along with any contaminated substrate.
How to decorate a gidgee skink terrarium
An empty enclosure makes for a bored lizard, 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!
Here are some ideas to get your started:
- sturdy branches
- large hollow logs
- textured background
- live or artificial foliage
Training and designing enrichment activities are also good ways to help keep your skink engaged, as well as provide a nice opportunity for bonding!
What to feed to a gidgee skink
Gidgee skinks are primarily insectivores, which means that they need to eat a diet of mostly insects in order to get the nutrition that their bodies need. However, they are also known to eat some plant matter.
Juveniles should get as much as they can eat, of both insects and salad, but adults should only be fed every other day, as much as they can eat in a 5-10 minute period.
Leafy greens for gidgee skinks: collard greens, cactus pads, spring mix, arugula, kale, alfalfa, bok choy, carrot greens, spinach, dandelion greens, hibiscus greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, parsley, romaine lettuce, escarole, watercress, clover
Other vegetables for gidgee skinks: broccoli, rapini, zucchini, cauliflower, sweet potato, bell pepper, squash, carrots, okra, sprouts, pea pods, green beans, shredded carrots
Fruit should be used as a rare treat, due to its high sugar content. Edible flowers like dandelion and hibiscus, however, can be used more often.
You will also need calcium and vitamin supplements to prevent your lizard from developing a deficiency. Repashy Calcium Plus LoD, lightly dusted on all insects. It’s okay to occasionally skip a dusting.
How to handle your gidgee skink
Reptiles generally don’t appreciate petting and handling in the same way that dogs and cats do. Gidgee skinks generally prefer not to be picked up and handled. Instead, try offering food from feeding tweezers to bond with your pet!
*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!