Red-eyed crocodile skinks

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Red-eyed crocodile skinks

Tribolonotus gracilis, commonly known as red-eyed crocodile skinks, is a species of skink that is sometimes kept as exotic pets. The species is endemic to New Guinea, where it lives in the tropical rainforest.

Scientific classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Squamata
  • Family: Scincidae
  • Genus: Tribolonotus
  • Species: T. gracilis
  • Binomial name: Tribolonotus gracilis


Orange-Eyed Crocodile skinks, or the Red-Eyed Busch Crocodile skink this lizard has become increasingly popular pet in the United States since 1994 when it debuted in the pet trade.  Native to the tropical forests of New Guinea and Indonesia, this crepuscular lizard is commonly found scurrying across the ground and climbing branches, plants, and lattice work.

These 8-10 inch lizards are more of a visual pet rather than a one that can be handled often.  Crocodile skinks will vocalize when in distress which is meant to alarm the captor and may even play dead.   Juveniles are more likely to play dead that the adults.  This species of skink is also adept at “tail dropping” when startled.

Their small stature, unique appearance, and relatively short life span of 8-10 years make skinks an ideal pet for many apartment residents.  Juveniles are generally a dark brown with a white dorsal (back) stripe.  Adults however are solid dark reddish brown with bright orange around the eyes giving them a striking appearance.


Red-eyed crocodile skinks are popular in the pet trade but are still considered exotic pets. For captivity they require a large terrarium that can withstand high humidity that the species requires. For nutrient most red-eyed crocodile skinks eat a variety of insects such as fruit flies, mealworms, and small crickets.


Areas where T. gracilis are found have an average daytime high temperature of 81 degrees Fahrenheit and an average nighttime low of 73 degrees, with humidity levels above 70 percent year-round. Red-eyed crocodile skinks are often found living under forest debris, which they dig into, creating nests between the debris and the soil, usually near water.


Tribolonotus gracilis is one of the few species of lizards that vocalize when in distress. When startled, they tend to freeze and have been known to “play dead” (even when handled).


When a breeding pair is kept in a common enclosure, the female lays eggs once every 5 weeks. She buries them in the substrate and guards them until they hatches, which takes around 60 – 65 days. Maintaining a temperature around 76ºF is recommended for the eggs to incubate well. Red-eyed crocodile skinks take good care of both, eggs and juveniles, and are even known to ‘bark’ when their infants are in danger. On hatching, the juveniles are around 2″ to 3″ in length, and can weigh as little as 3 grams.

Red eyed crocodile skink for sale

Red-eyed crocodile skinks images

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