Many skink owners are interested in the question of does their pet lay eggs? Of course most reptiles are egg layers, but does this apply to skinks as well. The answer is actually more complicated in skinks than it is in most reptiles.
There are some species of skinks that give birth to live babies, whilst there are others that lay eggs. The majority of skink breeds kept as pets lay eggs, but there are some such as Blue-Tongue Skinks that give birth to live young.
Different types of breeds lay different amounts of eggs, and also they lay them in different ways. Keep reading to find out more about the facts surrounding egg-laying and giving birth, the difference in breeds, and what you can do if your skink lays eggs.
Most Pet Skinks Lay Eggs
Most skink breeds that are kept as pets lay eggs. Technically they are called vociparous. This basically means they are an animal that produce young by means of eggs that are laid by parents and subsequently hatch. Most reptiles are vociparous, as are birds.
Egg-laying species tend to lay somewhere between 5 to 30 eggs in one go, although there is one breed – the Red-Eyed Crocodile Skink – that lays only one at a time. On the other side of the equation, there are a couple of rarer breeds that lay up to 70 eggs at one time.
The hatching period also differs between breeds, but is often somewhere between 30 and 80 days.
There is a difference in the breeds of how much care is given to both the eggs and also to the young following birth. In some breeds there is no kind of parental care following hatching or birthing. Young skinks are left alone from the moment they emerge into the world and must fend for themselves. However, other breeds care for the eggs, and will also give some level of care to the young following their hatch.
Many skinks lay eggs in a nest under foliage. Sometimes they will lay them in the soil, covered with thin layer of earth over them. They are also sometimes found to lay eggs under the edges of buildings. Often it is anywhere that provides the eggs with some protection, and is relatively hidden.
Most skink mothers lay eggs in one individual nest. However, there are some breeds where the moths all lay eggs together in one communal nest of multiple eggs.
Some skinks can be very territorial of their nests, and others will just abandon them.
Skinks are often found in towns, cities and gardens. As they eat predominantly insects, gardens make an excellent habitat for them, whilst urban areas provide protection, warmth, and an abundance of food. Eggs will regularly be laid in all sorts of places in gardens and urban areas.
Different Skink Breeds
Let’s have a look at some of the most common skink breeds kept as pets, and see the different facts surrounding their reproduction.
Common Garden Skink
These skinks are a well-known sight, particularly in Australia. They lay eggs between summer and mid-autumn when the temperature in that part of the world is perfect for the development of the eggs and successful hatching.
Number of eggs differs, but is usually somewhere between five to seven at one time.
The common garden skink is one of the breeds that favors laying eggs in communal nests. These clutches of eggs can often have anything between 150 to 300 eggs in one nest. The eggs are usually hidden, often by rocks or something similar. They hatch in about 30 days. The eggs are approximately 0.4 inches in length.
Blue Tongue Skink
This is another very common pet, that is once again native to Australia. They are in fact the most common skink in Australia, found in both forests and urban areas and gardens.
These are one of the unusual pet skinks, as they give birth to live young. The mother will give birth about three to four months after mating.
They usually have between 5 to 15 babies at a time.
Common Five-Lined Skink
Five-Lined Skinks are found throughout many parts of USA, including Michigan, southern Ontario, New York, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.
The female lays a clutch of several eggs. They lay them in the summer when the temperature is perfect for egg development. Eggs are normally lain in moist soil, under logs, in sawdust piles, or in some other wet and dark place.
They normally lay somewhere between 6 to 10 eggs that hatch after about 60 days, which is longer than most species of skink.
Red Eyed Crocodile Skink
These are beautiful breed of pet skink. They are native to New Guinea where they live in the trees of the rain-forest.
They are very unusual in terms of laying eggs. The females have only one working ovary (the right ovary). This lays just one egg at a time.
Whereas many breeds of skink simply abandon their eggs, or later their young immediately on hatching, the red eyed crocodile skink shows more of a ‘maternal’ instinct.
The mother will often curl round the egg to protect it. Also she will give significant care to the hatchling once it emerges into the world.
Another common breed of pet skink, the blue-tailed skink is native to Australia’s Chrismas Islands in the Indian Ocean. They are found in the forests of this island. They have also moved into many urban areas, where they live in towns, gardens, and also several ‘ghost-towns’ – old mining settlements.
Blue-tailed skinks mate during the spring as is common with many breeds. They lay their eggs in the summer when temperatures are good for egg development. They usually bury their eggs under loose soil.
The female will usually lay around 6 eggs. They take about 75 to hatch.
These are native to the US, being mostly found in Georgia and Carolina. They are arboreal, so live up in the trees.
The female lays clutches of between 16 to 22 eggs at a time, which is a higher quantity than most skinks.
Once again they will lay their eggs in the summer, and the mother attends the eggs until they hatch.
The fire skink is native to the rain-forests of Western Africa. This is one of the longest living skinks, with some reported to live for 25 years.
The female will lay a clutch of between 5 to 10 eggs after mating. The eggs will take somewhere between 40 to 50 days to hatch.
Three Toed Skink
This skink is probably the most unusual in terms of eggs or giving birth. Although it is not one of the more common skinks kept as pets, it is definitely worth knowing about.
Researchers at the University of Sydney have found out that this breed is capable of either producing eggs, or alternatively of giving birth to live young. They have even observed this ability in one single skink, that produced eggs for one clutch, and then weeks later gave birth to a live baby.
Skinks may be much stranger than previously thought after researchers discovered a lizard that laid eggs and gave birth to live young in the one pregnancy.
This is the only time that this ability has been observed in any living breed of animal.
Skinks are an unusual animal in that most pet breeds lay eggs, but some give birth to live young. Hopefully this article has given you the full information required as an overview about skinks, and also the specific detail about your breed. Skinks are a hardy and resilient animal, and you can’t go that wrong with the hatching process.