You may be asking, what the heck is a sandfish skink? Simply put, it’s a lizard. These little guys make great pets for first-time reptile owners. They are inexpensive and easy to care for, not to mention adorable. The most interesting thing about these little lizards is their ability to literally “swim” through sand… it’s amazing to watch. They don’t bite either, which of course is an added bonus to those just starting out with reptiles. They are extraordinary pets, for many reasons.
The sandfish skink is much smaller than other reptiles, measuring just five to six inches in length as adults. They are yellow in color, with alternating bands of brown along the back. Their legs are very short, and the nose is somewhat pointed.
When properly cared for, sandfish skinks have an average lifespan of twenty years. This, among other things, makes them a great pet to start out with for first time reptile owners.
Sandfish skinks eat crickets and mealworms. These can be purchased from a local pet store, and are pretty inexpensive. They need to be fed three to four times per week, and usually consume about 4 crickets/mealworms per feeding. They need to be placed into the aquarium while still alive, as the skink is “alerted” to their presence by their movement on the sand. A side-note here on keeping your skink’s food: crickets should be kept in an insect crate with a bit of water (about one tablespoon-they are not very intelligent and are prone to drowning themselves) and half of a potato. You can expect them to live for about two weeks, so don’t buy too many at once. The mealworms are kept in the same type of container that baitworms come in, and are stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. They require no feeding, as they are packed with cornmeal.
A reptile aquarium is always best, but a fish tank with the lid removed will do just as well, so long as it is at least 5 gallons. There’s no need to worry about your skink escaping, as they do not “climb”. However, if you do have other pets in your home, you may want to consider investing in a reptile aquarium. The bottom of the container should be covered with at least 2 inches of sand to allow your skink to burrow. You should also include a “pool”-they like to cool off every now and then. You can acquire such a pool from the pet store for around five dollars. Don’t forget to change the water daily.
Sandfish skinks are native to the desert, so they require a hot, arid climate. The temperature should be kept to about 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day with a basking spot of 105 degrees, and 75 degrees at night. Heat lamps should be used rather than heat pads, since these skinks spend the majority of their time burrowed under the sand. They need to be exposed to full spectrum UV lighting for at least 12 hours each day. This is easily achieved by purchasing two bulbs, a “daytime” and “nighttime” bulb, both available at the pet store.
If you think this seems like a lot of maintenance for a pet, then reptiles are not for you. The sandfish skink is actually one of the easiest reptiles to care for. They require little from you other than feeding and keeping the temperature consistent. They are beautiful to look at and amazing to observe as they move about. They are truly rewarding pets, and for anyone thinking about getting a reptile, I highly recommend the sandfish skink.