The Solomon Islands skink (Corucia zebrata) is a 24-32” long, nocturnal, arboreal lizard native to the Solomon Islands as well as Papua New Guinea. They prefer primary tropical forest for habitat, with dense foliage, plenty of epiphytic growth, and mature trees.
Solomon Islands skinks have a blunt, square head; robust body, strong limbs, large claws, and a slender prehensile tail. Coloring and pattern is highly variable. Base color may be light green, dark green, beige, brown, or golden. Some individuals have no pattern, but others may be banded, spotted, or mottled.
Also known as the prehensile-tailed skink or monkey-tailed skink, this animal makes for a challenging but rewarding pet if you’re willing to put the work in. With proper care, they may live up to 10-15 years.
Minimum terrarium size for Solomon Islands skinks
The absolute minimum enclosure size for a pair of Solomon Islands skinks is 6’L x 3’W x 6’H. Of course, if you can manage it, larger is always better! If you want to house a group of skinks larger than this, you will need a larger enclosure. Overcrowding causes stress.
Solomon Island skinks are an exceptionally social species of reptile, and are generally likely to do better with at least one “friend” than without. However, all individuals must be introduced to the enclosure at the same time, or else territorial conflicts are likely to happen. Be prepared to separate individuals that don’t get along.
Do Solomon Islands skinks need UVB?
Solomon Islands skinks are healthiest when they have access to appropriate amounts of UVB light. UVB 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 Solomon Islands skinks are:
- Zoo Med T5 HO Reptisun 5.0
- Arcadia T5 HO Forest 6%
For best results, house the UVB bulbs in an Arcadia or Vivarium Electronics fixture, half the width of the enclosure, and placed so that it overlaps with the heat lamps. Don’t forget to replace your bulb every 12 months!
If you plan on growing edible plants as part of your setup (ex: pothos), you will also need plant grow lights as part of the setup. Add a ~6500K T5 HO fluorescent grow lamp to provide extra illumination.
All lights should be on for 12 hours/day during summer and 8 hours/day during winter, with gradual adjustments in-between.
Best temperature for Solomon Islands skinks
Solomon Islands skinks should have a basking temperature of around 86°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 around 75-77°F. Nighttime temps can drop as low as 63°F.
Provide heat for your skink with a cluster of at least two halogen heat bulbs. 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 colored bulbs. If you need help maintaining appropriately high ambient temps, use a radiant heat panel connected to a thermostat.
Heat sources should be turned off at night.
Best humidity levels for Solomon Islands skinks
Solomon Islands skinks are a tropical species, so the humidity inside their enclosure should be fairly high: 60-80%, with levels higher at night than during the day. 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 pressure sprayer or automatic misting system. Mist every evening and then again in the morning if needed. In particularly dry climates, a nighttime fogger may also be beneficial. Aside from raising humidity, this also provides your pet with an important source of drinking water!
Best substrate for Solomon Islands 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 Solomon Islands skinks:
Substrate should be around 2” deep and completely replaced every month. Remove poop and urates daily, along with contaminated substrate.
How to decorate a Solomon Islands skink terrarium
An empty enclosure makes for a stressed 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 Solomon Islands skinks prefer to spend their time in the trees, at bare minimum you will need a large, sturdy branch for them to bask on and foliage to hide in. However, it’s best to include other items, such as:
- cork hollows
- large, sturdy branches
- thick vines
- live plants
All climbing objects should be securely anchored into the walls/floor of the enclosure to prevent collapse. Because these skinks are herbivorous, any live plants that you use should be edible (this includes pothos, which is nontoxic to Solomon Islands skinks).
What to feed to a Solomon Islands skink
Solomon Islands skinks are 100% herbivorous, which means that they only eat plants. They should be fed as much as they can eat daily, with 60% of their diet coming from dark leafy greens, 30% other vegetables, and 10% fruit. Vegetables should be chopped into bite-sized pieces to help prevent choking.
Provide as much dietary variety as you can manage for balanced nutrition!
Leafy greens for Solomon Islands skinks: mustard greens, kale, spinach, dandelion greens, hibiscus greens, cress, hawthorn, willow, fruit tree leaves (pesticide-free!), pothos
Other vegetables for Solomon Islands skinks: broccoli, rapini, zucchini, cauliflower, sweet potato, bell pepper, squash, carrots, okra, sprouts, pea pods, green beans, shredded carrots
Fruit options for Solomon Islands skinks: berries, apple, pear, peach, plum, banana, mango, melon, papaya
Edible flowers such as hibiscus and dandelion can also be offered. Occasional superworms may be offered as treats.
You will also need calcium and vitamin supplements to help prevent your lizard from developing a deficiency. We recommend Repashy Calcium Plus LoD, lightly dusted on all salads.
Of course, don’t forget a water bowl! Make sure it’s large and sturdy enough to resist tipping. Change the water daily and scrub the bowl with a reptile-safe disinfectant weekly.
How to handle your Solomon Islands skink
Reptiles generally don’t appreciate petting and handling in the same way that dogs and cats do. However, Solomon Islands skinks generally become fairly tame pets.
If you want to build a trusting relationship with your Solomon Islands skink, you will need to develop a foundation of positive interactions. Hand-feeding works well as an initial bribe, and it’s best to get the lizard to come to you rather than simply grabbing it.
Here are some more tips for success:
- Don’t grab the lizard from above. Instead, scoop from below.
- Support as much of its body as possible.
- Let it climb on you, don’t try to restrain it.
- Start with short handling sessions at first, then gradually make them longer.
- Put the lizard back in its enclosure only when it’s calm.
- Handle regularly to maintain tameness.
- Wear welding gloves if you’re worried about getting bitten.
- Wear long sleeves if you’re worried about getting scratched.
*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!
"Solomon Islands Skink (Corucia zebrata)_5" by guppiecat is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0