Owning a pet skink can be a good option for amateur herpetologists. There are popular breeds that are of moderate size, live in enclosed environments, easily kept healthy when cared for properly, and inexpensive. Other factors to consider are the time and cost commitments, which can be quite substantial, of owning these exotic pets.
While there are 600-800 breeds of skinks, the most common pet skink is the blue tongued breed. A common size range for this kind of pet skink is 12-18 inches (30-45 cm), though some can be as long as 32 inches (80 cm). Pet skinks should be placed in glass tanks with a very warm environment. The tank’s size will vary with the breed and size of skink, but a generally acceptable estimate is roughly 40-55 gallon (152-209 liters), a size that many pet owners can manage.
Pets that live in aquariums can be convenient, because they are not loose in the owner's home to cause any damage. It is also easier to create a controlled environment for them inside of a glass tank, rather than adjusting the entire home to their unique needs. These factors can make skinks good pets for individuals with a limited amount of space.
Potential skink caretakers should be aware that their environmental needs can be quite substantial. As with any reptile, pet skinks are cold blooded and require ultra-violet (UV) heat lamps to regulate their body temperature. Running the lamps can be expensive, and bulbs usually need to be changed yearly, even if they have not yet burned out, and they will, of course, require use of the owner's electricity while they are on.
The price of pet skinks varies depending on breed and age. Prices start at around $10 US dollars (USD) and can go up to hundreds of dollars. Skinks generally have a long life span, and with proper care can live well over 15 years. A pet skink will usually stay healthy once it has adjusted to captivity so long as its environment is cleaned daily and disinfected on a regular basis. They require more maintenance than other lizards but are not subject to as many illnesses when properly cared for.
A skink’s eating habits should also be considered before purchase. As small pets, they don’t require much food, but some skinks need to be fed several times each day. They eat a varied diet, from insects to vegetables. Some owners have even been successful feeding their pet skinks cat food and other non-traditional foods. The cost of skink food may be low, but the time requirement to ensure that the skink is properly fed can be substantial.