Monkey-tailed Skink Care

Scientific name: Corucia zebrata

Common names: Solomon Island Tree Skink, Prehensile-tailed Skink

Natural habitat: Solomon Islands

Adult size: 16-30"

Life span: 20+ years

Reptile keeping experience: moderate to advanced

Below are the basics for keeping monkey-tailed skinks.

Cage: Monkey tails are arboreal so provide a vertically oriented cage.  Specialty acrylic/plastic or screen cages work best.  The minimum dimensions should be 24" x 18" x 36". I was successful breeding pairs and trios kept in enclosures measuring 48" wide x 24" deep x 48" high.

Accessories: Monkey tails are mostly nocturnal so provide plenty of large hides.  Large cork rounds and hollows are commonly used.  Use sturdy branches and vines for additional climbing areas.  A large water bowl will help maintain humidity.  A thermometer and humidity gauge should be used to monitor cage conditions.

Humidity: The humidity should be 60%-80% and misting is essential.  Monkey tails will drink water droplets from their body or cage accessories after misting.  Misting also keeps the humidity high. Misting systems and/or foggers will aid with husbandry.

Substrate: Monkey tails are arboreal so several substrates can be used. The two most suitable options are sphagnum moss and cypress mulch because these will help maintain humidity.

Temperature/Lighting: It has not been proven that monkey tails need UVB but they are often seen basking under UVB bulbs.  UVB lights should be used 10-12 hours each day.  Provide a range of temperatures in the enclosure with a basking spot of between 90-100°F.  This can be accomplished with an incandescent basking light, heat emitter, or mercury vapor bulb (for large enclosures only).  Overhead lamps are appreciated as they allow the monkey tails to bask.  The ambient temperature should range between 83-86°F.  Nighttime temperatures should not drop below 72°F.          

Diet/Feeding: Monkey tails are herbivorous and a varied diet is essential.  The diet should be 60-70% leafy greens.  Choices for greens include collard greens, mustard greens, bok choy, carrot leaves, turnip leaves, kale, cress, spinach, romaine, escarole, frisee, radicchio, and pak choi.  Another 20-30% of the diet can be other vegetables including  green beans, squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, corn (sparingly), peas, carrots, and broccoli.  Fruits can be mixed into the salad or given as treats but should not be more than 10% of the diet.  Fruit options include apple, banana, peach, kiwi, mango, cantaloupe, red banana, and papaya.  Grapes and strawberries may contain pesticides and should be skinned before feeding.  Pothos leaves are a favorite but be sure the plants are free of pesticides and artificial fertilizers.  Babies can be fed daily and adult skinks every other day.  Feeding time usually works best in the evening when they are becoming active.

A quality vitamin/calcium supplement with vitamin D3 may be important.  Supplement the skink meals every 2-3 feedings.  Experts also disagree about the need for this supplementation, but it is usually recommended. 

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