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February 2021’s Animal Of The Month – Solomon Islands Skinks

By March 3, 2021 No Comments

February is the shortest month of the year and the Solomon Islands skink wanted some extra time to bask in our Animal of the Month spotlight. We were so busy deep cleaning our clinic after our recent COVID scare that we were happy to oblige! But now that March is underway, it’s time to say good-bye for now to February’s Animal of the Month. We hope you enjoyed our tweets @ExoticPetVets about these unique reptiles. But if you missed any of our tweets, here is a summary for you that you can reference anytime. Did you know?:

  • Solomon Islands skinks (Corucia zebrata) are endemic to – as their name suggests – the Solomon Islands, which is an archipelago (group of islands) in the Pacific Ocean, northeast of Australia.
  • The Solomon Islands skink’s scientific name is a nod to her scales. Corucia comes from the Latin word “coruscus,” which means shimmering; while zebrata references “zebra” because of the stripes on her skin.
  • Solomon Islands skinks also have many other common names; including the prehensile-tailed skink, monkey-tailed skink and giant Solomon Island skink.
  • Solomon Islands skinks are found in tropical rainforests and are arboreal reptiles. Their long prehensile tails allow them to grip branches, making them well-suited for living in trees.
  • Solomon Islands skinks are also masters of the sedentary lifestyle. A 2011 study found that they would just rather hang out at home as opposed to going out.
  • Researchers put radio collars on 25 Solomon Island skinks to monitor their home range, which is where a species typically shelters, feeds and reproduces. They found the skinks’ home range was mostly within the canopy of just one tree (Hagen and Bull, 2011).
  • Solomon Islands skinks are the largest skinks in the world. When fully-grown, they can measure more than 2½ feet (81 cms) in length, with their long tails making up about half of that measurement.
  • Solomon Islands skinks have a stout cylindrical body with short limbs. Their scales are olive green while their bodies can have small brown or black spots on them along with subtle striping on their backs.
  • Because of their arboreal lifestyle, Solomon Islands skinks have five long toes on each foot with sturdy claws that help them climb trees and hang onto branches.
  • Solomon Island skinks have a large triangular head with a powerful jaw and small sharp teeth. Their eyes are small and flat.
  • Valentine’s Day is a day touted as being for love and lovers. Well, not only do humans form pair bonds, but Solomon Islands skinks do too. They have been observed in monogamous relationships that can last for up to 20 years!
  • Another thing Solomon Islands skinks have more in common with humans than their fellow reptiles is that they are viviparous, meaning they have live births.
  • The gestation period for Solomon Island skinks is about 6-8 months and the developing skink will get nourishment from a placenta.
  • Usually, Solomon Islands skinks will give birth to one baby. Twins do occur, but are the exception rather than the rule. Triplets are rarer still.
  • Solomon Islands skink babies are huge at birth relative to the mother’s size. The late Dr. Kevin Wright, veterinarian and former reptile curator at The Philadelphia Zoo, has compared the size with a human giving birth to a six-year-old.
  • Family Day was on Monday February 15th and Solomon Islands skinks are all about family. Both females and males are protective of their offspring.
  • In another display of unusual reptile behaviour, Solomon Islands skinks live in small social groups called a circulus, which also consists of unrelated adults and sometimes orphaned juveniles who are welcomed into the group.
  • Unusual among other skink species, Solomon Islands skinks are strict herbivores. In the wild, they will eat leaves, flowers, fruit and plant shoots.
  • Solomon Island skinks will also eat a plant commonly known as golden pothos. While it is toxic, they can eat it without concern of illness or death.
  • When they are juveniles, Solomon Islands skinks will eat the feces of their adult counterparts. They do this to develop their digestive tract so they can digest all of the plants in their diet – including the toxic ones.
  • While we do treat Solomon Islands skinks at our clinic, they are not commonly kept in captivity.
  • Solomon Islands skinks are protected by @CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) and it is illegal for them to be exported out of the Solomon Islands.
  • While Solomon Islands skinks are protected from being exported, they are still poached by humans for the pet trade and hunted for food. Their numbers are also under tremendous pressure from habitat loss due to excessive logging.
  • To date, the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has not assessed the wild population of the Solomon Islands skink, whose conservation status is not yet available on the
  • Solomon Islands skinks are bred in captivity in North America, but they only reach sexual maturity at two years of age. That, combined with their slow birth rate, makes captive breeding a slow and challenging endeavour.
  • With proper care, Solomon Island skinks can live for about 25 years on average.

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