The sun skink (Eutropis multifasciata) is an up to 13” long, diurnal, terrestrial lizard native to southeast Asia, although an invasive population is present in Florida, United States. They can be found in primary and secondary forest for habitat.
Sun skinks have a small tapered head, dark eyes, a robust body, short limbs, and a long, thin tail. Owing to this species’ wide distribution, appearance can vary by locality. However, typically the sun skink has a bronze base color, with dark, yellow, or orange sides; and a white to yellow throat.
Sun skinks are relatively hardy pets and while skittish, may be tamed. When appropriate care is provided, they can live for 8 years or longer.
Minimum terrarium size for sun skinks
The minimum terrarium size for housing one sun skink is 36”L x 18”W x 18”H. Of course, these are quite active lizards, so larger is always better — if you provide, they will absolutely use it!
Housing multiple sun skinks in the same terrarium is not necessary, but females can be housed together successfully. A breeding group of one male and two females can be housed in a 48” x 24” x 24” enclosure. Males should never be kept together.
Do sun skinks need UVB?
Sun skinks require high-quality UVB lighting as part of their setup in order to stay healthy in captivity. 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 provides other benefits.
The best UVB bulbs for sun skinks are:
- Zoo Med Reptisun T5 HO 5.0, 22”
- Arcadia Forest 6%, 22”
For best results, house the UVB bulbs in a reflective fixture, preferably Arcadia or Vivarium Electronics. Position the lamp on the same side of the terrarium as the heat lamp. If the lamp is positioned over mesh, the basking area should be placed 7-9” below for best results.
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. And don’t forget to replace your bulb every 12 months!
Lights and heating should be on for 13 hours/day during summer and 11 hours/day during winter. Alternatively, you can use a smart timer to sync your lamps with local sunrise and sunset times.
Best temperature for sun skinks
Sun skinks should have a basking area temperature between 95-105°F. The cool side temperature should stay between 80-90°F, and heat sources should be turned off at night. Temperatures may safely drop down as low as 70°F.
Provide heat for your skink with a 50w halogen flood heat lamp in order to help replicate sunlight. Do not use ceramic heat emitters (CHEs), red bulbs, or blue bulbs, as these are not as effective. If temperatures get too warm, use a lamp dimmer or rheostat to reduce the bulb’s output. If your basking temperature is too cool, increase the wattage of the bulb you are using.
For best results, use a large flat stone (ex: flagstone, paver stone, slate tile) as the basking surface. Measure temperatures with a digital probe thermometer with the probe placed on the basking surface, and another device with the probe on the cool end.
Best humidity levels for sun skinks
Sun skinks need average humidity levels between 70-80%. Measure the average humidity in your skink’s enclosure with a digital probe hygrometer, with the probe placed in the middle of the terrarium. Humidity levels should fluctuate lower during the day and higher at night.
Best substrate for sun skinks
“Loose” substrates that mimic a reptile’s natural environment present a low impaction risk, cushion the animal’s joints, and offer a place where they can exercise natural burrowing behaviors. These substrates also help maintain correct humidity levels.
We recommend the following substrates for sun skinks:
- Zoo Med Eco Earth
- Zoo Med ReptiSoil
- Exo Terra Plantation Soil
- Zilla Jungle Mix
Alternatively, you can mix your own sun skink substrate with 60% topsoil and 40% coconut fiber. Layering clean, chemical-free leaf litter on top of the substrate can also help with humidity.
Substrate should be around 3” deep and completely replaced every 3-4 months. Remove poop and urates daily, along with contaminated substrate.
How to decorate a sun skink terrarium
An empty terrarium leads to a bored skink. Keep your pet entertained and engaged with its environment with the strategic use of decor items that encourage it to exercise natural behaviors.
At bare minimum, you will need at least two hiding places for the skink to use. However, it’s best to include other items, such as:
- hollow logs
- cork flats
- live or artificial plants
- misc. ornaments
- textured background
What to feed to a sun skink
Sun skinks are primarily insectivores, which means that they need mostly animal-based foods in their diet. Offer food daily, as many insects as your skink is capable of eating in roughly 5 minutes. If the skink seems to be gaining weight, offer less food. If they seem to be losing weight, offer more food. The key to balanced nutrition is variety, so make sure your skink gets as many different types of insects as possible!
Fruits such as banana, papaya, and berries can be offered every so often as nutritious treats.
You will also need calcium and vitamin supplements to help keep your skink healthy. We recommend Repashy Calcium Plus LoD, lightly dusted on all of your skink’s feeder insects and organ or muscle meats. It’s okay to occasionally skip a dusting.
How to handle your sun skink
Reptiles generally don’t appreciate petting and handling in the same way that dogs and cats do. Sun skinks take patience to tame, but it can be done, especially when captive bred. One of the best ways to bond with your pet is to hand-feed 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!