How to keep an Emerald grass skink

The Emerald Grass Skink, also known as the long-tailed skink, is a species originating from Japan. They are commonly found amongst trees, shrubs and other vegetation, and live an arboreal lifestyle. Emerald grass skinks are usually bright green in colour, with limited patterns. They have a very long thin tail that can stretch to more than twice the length of the body. This tail is used for balance to enable them in their extremely agile behaviours. Although quick and nimble, careful handling is possible, taking care not to damage their fragile limbs.

Housing

The Emerald Grass Skink is a very active lizard that requires a lot of space to move around. A minimum of 90 x 45 x 60cm should be provided to house up to four adults, although bigger is definitely appreciated. This will provide good opportunity for horizontal movement as well as their all-important arboreal habits. To begin with, your enclosure will need a good quality loose substrate such as soil – this will ensure moisture is held and will also provide the option of a live planted terrarium, which is much more natural and aesthetically pleasing. It may also be a good idea to think about a drainage layer, consisting of a layer of hydro rocks, matting and then your substrate – this will stop the soil from becoming waterlogged but also helps aid humidity in the tank by re-using the water that collects in the bottom layers.

To be sure that your skinks can make use of the entire enclosure, a lot of decor will need to be arranged inside the enclosure. It is essential that the climbing structure created is sturdy enough to hold the weight of the animal but also that it creates access to the higher portions of the tank, making heat and UV more accessible. For this, you could use a variety of branches, logs, vines and foliage. 

To allow your skinks to take cover from heat and UV and hide from view, you should also use some of this decor to create sufficient ‘off show’ areas – for example, dense foliage over a branch to create a hidden area underneath. Being diurnally active, this won’t affect your viewing of your skinks as they will still venture out to bask and feed, and they are usually active animals.

Heating and lighting

Heat and UVB are vital elements of any reptile enclosure. For the Emerald Grass Skink, you will first require a good heat source – either a basking bulb or ceramic heat emitter are best. Any heat source should be attached to a thermostat for regulation and for the safety of the animal. You should also use an accurate digital thermometer for monitoring. This should be placed at the top of the enclosure, facing down as the skinks would also bask at height.

A temperature of 30-32C should be maintained in this basking area, with the cooler areas of the tank remaining around 22-25C, allowing your skinks to move away from the heat as well as towards it for basking. During the night, you may not need to heat the enclosure, as temperatures can drop to around 15-20C – this mimicking a natural temperature drop experienced by the animals in the wild. 

Another essential aspect of the enclosure is a good quality UVB light. This will come in the form of a strip bulb such as Arcadia’s T5 6% (the strength will depend on the height of the enclosure). This bulb will enable your animal to metabolise key nutrients and use them effectively in the body. Not having this UV can make them extremely ill and even prove fatal. You will use UVB in a 12-hour cycle, going off as the temperature drops. It is also important to note that all UV has a lifespan between 6 – 12 months (this will depend on the bulb and brand). After the lifespan of the bulb is up, the UV will no longer be being emitted, even if the tube is still glowing.

Humidity

Another consideration for this animal is humidity. For Emerald Grass Skinks, this should remain between 60 – 80%, and measured with an accurate digital hygrometer. To achieve this humidity the enclosure will require frequent spraying, a good quality, moisture-holding substrate and possibly the addition of a fogger and/or live plants. The skinks are unlikely to drink from still water like a water dish, and it is therefore highly recommended that a fountain or dripper is included to ensure that your animals are constantly hydrated. Another good idea is the use of broadleaf plants on which water can collect for them to drink off.

Diet

Your Emerald Grass Skinks are insectivores and so will feed on a variety of small-sized crickets, locust, calci-worms and mini mealworms. Variety is key in providing your skinks with good nutrition as all prey items differ in nutritional value. You will also need to dust the live food with additional calcium, multi-vitamins and D3 in the relevant feeding rota to ensure your skinks gets everything they need. It is always recommended that live food be ‘gut-loaded’ before being fed to the animal to make them an even better quality meal.

Swell SuperStore Emerald Grass Skink profile

  • Scientific name – Lamprolepis smaragdina
  • Adult Expected Size – 6 inches excluding tail (snout to vent)
  • Habitat – Rain forests of Japan. Arboreal living.
  • Required Enclosure Size – minimum of 90 x 45 x 60cm (group of 3-4 adults)
  • UV Lighting – 3 – 4 UVI (6% T5 – dependent on the height of the enclosure)
  • Expected Lifespan – 6 – 10 Years
  • Temperature Gradient – 25 – 32C
  • Humidity Levels – 60 – 80%
  • Feeding – Insectivores – Mainly live food such as small crickets, locust and worms
  • Handling – Careful handling is possible.


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