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What Is a Blue-Tailed Skink?

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  • Written By: L. Baran
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Images By: n/a, Lesniewski, Viter
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2016
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The blue-tailed skink is a type of lizard native to Australia. As its name suggests, this small reptile features a striking blue tail at the end of a dark brown or black body. Skinks are active during the day and are able to tolerate a wide range of temperatures. Their scientific name is Cryptoblepharus egeriae.

While native to Australia's Christmas Island, these skinks are now found throughout Australia, New Zealand, Fuji and Indonesia. They also inhabit the Solomon Islands, New Guinea, Micronesia and many parts of the United States. Their preferred habitats are low level vegetation and plantations with some tree cover; while most types of skink make their homes at ground level, some will also choose a hole in a tree. The diet of this exotic lizard consists mainly of small insects, such as crickets, grasshoppers, worms and ants. These insects are generally quite easy to find amongst the vegetation and small trees where blue-tailed skinks make their homes.

The back of the blue-tailed skink has three distinct yellow stripes. One possible reason for the location and color of these stripes is that they may cause predators to direct their eyes to the bright blue tail, perhaps preventing a fatal attack to the lizard's body. As the blue-tailed skink ages, its striking colors may begin to fade or become less prominent. Male lizards may feature some red markings around the head area, while females tend to have little to no red coloring.

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The average length of the blue-tailed skink is 1.5 to 2.4 inches (4 to 6 cm) from head to tail, although some may be quite larger than this. An interesting and unique feature of the striking blue tail is that it can be temporarily discarded by the lizard in a dangerous situation to distract a predator. The tail will continue to move as the skink itself scurries to safety, and should ultimately grow back. Most skinks make their homes in holes and tunnels that can be easily reached if predators are threatening.

Blue-tailed skinks make popular pets for those looking for a more exotic lizard. Caring for this type of reptile requires a moderate degree of knowledge and some specialized equipment. The temperature and humidity of the skink's environment must be carefully controlled, and access to appropriate food and water sources is essential. Skinks do not tend to tolerate much handling, and this is particularly true of the blue-tailed variety as their tails are very sensitive. The estimated life span for a skink in captivity is approximately ten years.

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