5942 Lovers Lane, Portage MI 49002
Supplies (click on items to see photos):
40-50 Gallon Long Aquarium
Metal screen aquarium top (plastic will melt)
Light Fixtures for high-heat light bulbs (2 to 3)
UVB Mercury Vapor Bulb (such as Zoo Med's Power Sun bulb)
Additional heating elements or bulbs (1 to 2)
Automatic timers for lighting and heating elements
Glass aquarium thermometers (2 to 3)
Sand Scooper for daily cleaning
Hiding log or rock
Branches and/or rocks to climb on
Reptile Calcium/Vitamin Powder
Spray bottle for misting
Insects and veggies for feeding (more on this below)
Schneider's Skinks are a medium sized lizard and need a good amount of space to live happily. We recommend a 40 to 50 gallon aquarium for an adult skink. They are usually best housed alone. Males tend to be territorial and it is best not to keep more than one male in a single cage. A pair consisting of a male and a female can usually be kept together safely but identifying the gender of Schneider's Skinks is very difficult. Males tend to be a little bigger with a head that is wider than the neck and are sometimes more brightly colored than females but there is no hard and fast rule for gender identification. Females' heads tend to be the same width as their necks.
An enclosure should be large enough to provide a wide temperature gradient both horizontally and vertically. A top to the enclosure is required to prevent the occupant from escaping. Make sure the tank top is made of metal mesh with a metal frame and is large enough and sturdy enough to hold multiple light fixtures. Tanks must be well-ventilated, yet able to retain heat. Vivariums with screen sides provide excellent ventilation but are much more difficult to maintain high temperatures in.
In their native environment, Schneider's Skins live in sandy areas. Playground sand (obtainable at your local garden or home improvement store) makes a suitable substrates for this species. It should be deep enough for your skink to bury itself completely in it - about 2 or 3 inches will do. Expect your pet to spend a large amount of the day buried in the sand. Droppings should be sifted from the sand daily or weekly and the sand should be completely replaced completely every 6 months. Cage decorations can include branches for climbing and basking, and rocky, ceramic, or wooden caves, reptile hammocks, and artificial plants.
Do not use Calci-Sand, ground walnut, corn cob bedding, alfalfa pellets, kitty litter, or wood shavings as a cage substrate.
Schneider's Skinks need areas for basking as well as hiding. Provide at least one hiding area on the cooler side of the cage. Ideally, the tank should be big enough to have a hiding place at each end of the temperature gradient, plus a raised basking area closer to the heat source. Often a hide rock or log can double as a basking spot.
The location of the cage is also very important. It should be located in an area with minimal fluctuations in temperature and humidity. Some poor location choices include: near a window where sunlight can overheat the tank, near a door where drafts can cause an unhealthy drop in temperature, in a bathroom where humidity levels can rise to unhealthy levels.
Ultraviolet light is important for most lizards. The UVB light that comes from the sun allows lizards (and many other animals) to produce Vitamin D in their skin. Vitamin D then travels to the lizard's intestinal tract and makes it possible to absorb calcium from its diet. Without Vitamin D, no calcium can be absorbed. Unfiltered sunlight (i.e. not through glass) is the best source of ultraviolet light and lizards should be exposed to sun whenever it is safely possible. Be careful when taking your lizard outdoors to prevent overheating and escape. Reptiles can become overheated very quickly if left in direct sunlight. Never leave your pet in an aquarium in the sun. Your pet should never be allowed outdoors unsupervised at any time.
There are many UV (sometimes referred to as full spectrum light) bulbs on the market. Most claim that they duplicate the sun's light spectrum, however there is no bulb that can achieve the intensity of ultraviolet light emitted by the sun. Some bulbs provide so little UV light that they are completely useless, and some are so powerful that can burn the reptile. As mentioned in the heating section, good quality mercury vapor UVB bulbs make the best basking lights because they provide both heat and UVB spectrum of light. Lizards instinctively bask in areas that are both bright and hot. Fluorescent type UV bulbs provide brightness without the heat so often the lizard will bask in the wrong area of the cage unless a heating element is paired with the UV bulb. There are two brands of bulbs we currently recommend for our reptile patients: the MegaRay, available at reptileuv.com, and Zoo Med's Power Sun, available at most pet stores. If you have a separate basking lamp and UV light, they should be placed as close as possible to each other and on the warm side of the cage.Your UV lights must be changed at least every 6 months in order to provide adequate levels of UVB spectrum lighting. Humans can't see the UVB wavelength so there is no way of knowing when that spectrum of the light has died off. We can test your bulb's UVB output for you to help you decide if it is time to replace the bulb. We recommend testing your bulb when you first purchase it so make sure the bulb is good and then every 2-3 months thereafter. Many bulbs are found to be defective right out of the box. Call us for more details.
The lighting cycle should be 12-14 hours of light and 10-12 hours of no light. Using an automatic timer to turn your lights off and on is very helpful in regulating your light cycles. Never use a white light of any sort at night, for lighting or for heat. Just like humans, reptiles need darkness at night. If you need to provide supplemental heat at night, use an under-tank heating pad, a ceramic heating element, or a nocturnal reptile bulb. Some skinks will use a humidity box when they are shedding.
Temperature & Humidity:
The importance of proper temperature cannot be overstated. Because lizards are exothermic (cold-blooded), they must rely on their environment to maintain their internal body temperatures. Metabolism, digestion, and immune function all rely heavily on a lizard's body temperature. Ideal body temperature varies from hour to hour, depending on what activity the lizard is engaging in. This is why providing a temperature gradient or range is so important. The lizard should be able to move freely between temperatures to self-regulate.
Ideal Temperature Range for Schneider's Skinks: Basking: 95-105ºF Cool Spot: 75-80ºF Nighttime: 68-72ºF
Setting up a proper temperature gradient takes a little trial and error. Establish a warm area on one side of the tank where the basking light will be placed. The basking area is the highest point your lizard can reach (i.e. on a branch or rock) that is directly beneath the UVB bulb and is the warmest area in the tank - this area should be around 95-105ºF. Mercury vapor UVB bulbs make the best basking lights because they provide both heat and UVB spectrum of light (more on why in the Lighting section). The opposite side of the tank should be the "cool area" (around 75-80ºF) where the heating elements will be less intense. Usually one or two 75 or 100 watt daylight heat bulbs An alternative heating element is a ceramic heater. Ceramic heaters plug into regular light outlets but do not produce light, only heat. Ceramic heaters tend to cost more than light bulbs but have the advantage of lasting longer than bulbs. Make sure you use a light fixture with a ceramic ballast that is rated for the amount of bulb wattage you are going to use. Nighttime temperatures can drop to 68-72ºF on the cool side. This can usually be accomplished by turning off all heat bulbs or ceramic heaters.
An under-tank heating pad under the warm side of the tank will provide additional heat by gently heating the substrate and will help maintain a temperature gradient at night when the lights are turned off. There are specially made heating pads for reptile habitats, do not use a drug store heating pad. Do not use heat rocks in the tank as they do not provide adequate heat for air temperature and are a common cause of burns in reptiles. Reptile heating pads usually come with little stick-on "feet" to put on the bottom of your aquarium and prevent the weight of the aquarium from putting pressure on the electric cord. Be sure to use these or something similar to prevent damage to your heating pad's cord, which could pose a fire hazard. Keep the under-tank heater on at all times.
Have at least three thermometers in the cage to check your temperatures: one on the cool side, one on the warm side, and one directly in the basking area. Place them where your pet spends its time, not just where it is convenient for you. Check your temperatures often - at least once during each season - because ambient temperatures change with the seasons and this, in turn, will affect the temperatures within your lizard's cage.
Humidity in the habitat should be around 50%. An inexpensive pet store hygrometer can be used to monitor humidity. You can mist the cage with clean tap water in a spray bottle periodically to help maintain humidity levels in the goal range. When your skink is shedding, you should increase the humidity in the cage to prevent retained. This is best accomplished by having some sphagnum moss or orchid bark in one corner of the cage and spraying it once or twice a day.
Feeding & Watering:
Schneider's Skinks are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plants and animals. In addition to greens, many skinks will eat shredded or chopped carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, and beans. Offer veggies 2-3 times weekly. You can also offer mashed fruit occasionally as a treat. For protein, you can offer gut-loaded crickets, mealworms, super worms, wax worms, silk worms, horn worms, dubia roaches, earthworms, and snails. Feed juveniles daily and adults every other day. You can also catch your own insects to feed to your lizard - just make sure they are not from an area that has been treated with insecticides and the insect you are feeding is not poisonous. Do not feed fireflies, poisonous spiders, centipedes, caterpillars, large (lubber) grasshoppers, or scorpions.
Always gut-load your insects for 24 to 48 hours prior to feeding them to your lizard. Click here for more info in Gut-Loading. The easiest way to gut load your crickets is to keep them in a cricket keeper with cricket food and cricket water for 24 to 48 hours before you feed them to your lizard. Sprinkle or dust prey with a vitamin and calcium supplement just before feeding them to your lizard 2-3 times a week (daily to every other day for baby and pregnant dragons). We recommend Zoo Med's Reptivite vitamin and calcium powder.
Fresh water should be provided in a shallow bowl inside the cage at all times. The water should be changed and the bowl washed daily.
The following information will help you set up your new Schneider's Skink for a long healthy life!