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What Do Skinks Eat in the Wild and as Pets?

Nicole Cosgrove

Regardless of where you live, you’ve probably already seen a skink basking in the sun around your backyard. These lizards enjoy spending their time in warm, dry climates. Even though they aren’t considered true lizards, they are still related. The biggest difference is that skinks have smaller limbs or sometimes no limbs at all.

It is becoming more popular to have lizard-type animals as pets, and the skink is no exception. In the wild, you can find them hanging near human houses because they are close to food sources. What do skinks eat in the wild, and does their diet change if you have them as a pet? Read through this quick guide on a skink’s diet and how you can ensure they are getting all the nutrition they need.

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What Role Do Skinks Play in the Ecosystem?

Although skinks are small, they are crucial to healthy environments. These animals not only feed on a lot of the pests around our homes, but they keep other wildlife fed as well. These lizards are prey to birds, snakes, raccoons, and larger lizards. You can find them in any hot, dry area like Texas in the United States or in the bush of Australia.

pygmy blue tongued skink_Avinash Joshi_Pixabay
Image Credit: Avinash Joshi, Pixabay

What Do Skinks Eat?

Skinks are considered both carnivores and insectivores, but there have been a few occasions where they have eaten plant matter. Here is a look at everything that a skink is known to consume in the wild and as a pet:

Insects

mealworm
Image Credit: Joshua A Houck, Shutterstocl

Skinks love to eat insects. It is the main source of their diet. They are able to eat a wide variety, including flies, crickets, roaches, beetles, grasshoppers, millipedes, centipedes, worms, slugs, mosquitos, snails, and much more. Some skinks in captivity have been taught to feed on dead insects, but they prefer to have live food. If you have a pet skink, catch or buy live insects from your local pet store.

Smaller Lizards

baby lizard in humans hand
Image Credit: Laurent Duval, Pixabay

It’s true that lizards sometimes eat their own species and can become cannibalistic if hungry enough. There have also been times where food was scarce and skinks have ate their own young.

Small Rodents

mice
Image Credit: Kapa65, Pixabay

While skinks do eat meat, they don’t eat it as much as they eat insects. Small and young rodents are usually their go-to if they can’t find another food source. Mice are a very filling treat for larger skinks, but they are one of the most common sources of meat they consume.

Fruits and Veggies

fruits and vegetables
Image Credit: Jasmine Lin, Pixabay

There are only a few skink species that are omnivores, and these ones are able to eat about 60% of plants and 40% of insects for a healthy life. However, they usually only eat this if they are in captivity and their veggies are cooked instead of raw. Make sure you have an omnivore species as a pet before feeding them fruits or vegetables. Safe foods for them to eat are pumpkin, carrots, collard greens, dandelion greens, cabbage, green beans, arugula, berries, squash, papaya, and more.

Do not feed your pet skink citrus fruits. These fruits could kill your lizard. If you want to give them a sweet treat, opt for bananas or strawberries instead.

Bone Meal

bone meal
Image Credit: achirathep, Pixabay

Pet skinks are known to become calcium deficient, which usually leads to their cannibalistic tendencies. Bone meal is one of the best supplements to give skinks that are low on nutrients. Dust the bone meal over your insects before feeding them to your pets.

Water

glass of water
Image Credit: Kawita Chitprathak, Pixabay

Water is essential for all life on earth. If you have a skin terrarium, offer them a water pit with fresh water every single day. Some skinks enjoy taking a dip if they start to get too hot.

How to Feed Skinks

Properly identify the skin species you have as a pet before feeding them. You must know if they are an omnivore, insectivore, or carnivore. Once you have identified the species, check that you know what the food ratio should be.

What Do Skinks Eat in the Wild?

Wild skinks can only eat what is available to them in their habitat. Many wild skinks hand around gardens or houses and look for insects that are attracted to your outdoor lights. Some of them may feed on the foods in your garden, but it is less common.

What Do Skinks Eat in Captivity?

Skinks have become more popular over the past few years and most people prefer to have a species that is an omnivore because they are easier to feed. Omnivores are able to eat meat, insects, fruits, and veggies without problems.

Berber skink in wild
Image Credit: slowmotiongli, Shutterstock

How Often Do Skinks Eat?

Both wild and pet skinks don’t eat every single day. If you have a skink as a pet, try to feed it every other day. If they eat a large meal, skip the next day. If they didn’t eat enough, try again the following day.

What Do Baby Skinks Eat?

Baby skinks are independent from the moment they are born. Baby skinks, also called skinklets, eat the same foods as adults but in smaller pieces and portions. Both skinklets and adults must eat their food whole.

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Final Thoughts

Reptile lovers around the world have realized that owning a pet skink is a fun idea, but they have to be careful about what they are feeding them. Before you bring a skink home, you need to understand what they eat in the wild and adapt their appetite to fit inside captivity. As long as they have a healthy diet of insects, most tend to live happy lives in captivity.

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Featured Image Credit: DWI YULIANTO, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.