The prehensile-tailed skink is native only to the Solomon Islands north of Australia, is the longest species of skink among some 1,500 in the family Scincidae, and is the only skink that is 100 percent herbivorous. It is so-named because it can also grasp with its tail, an adaptation shared with some primates and marsupials.
Range & Habitat
Prehensile-tailed skinks are endemic to the Solomon Islands north of Australia and may also be found in nearby Papua New Guinea. They are arboreal rainforest animals that spend most of their time high up in trees, using their prehensile tail to grab onto branches.
Conservation Status: Not Evaluated
This species is not officially listed as threatened; however, it is covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). It is in danger from habitat loss due to extensive deforestation of its home islands as well as illegal capture for the pet trade.
In the Wild: Vegetation and fruit, especially leaves of the Solomon Island creeper plant.
At the Zoo: Chopped greens (kale, romaine, beet greens, dandelion leaves) as well as yams and carrots.
In Human Care: 15+ years
Fun Facts about the Prehensile-tailed Skink
- This species is also known as the giant skink, the Solomon Island skink, the monkey-tail skink and the green tree skink.
- When threatened by a predator, this skink can make a sharp hissing noise and bite savagely.
- Prehensile-tailed skinks are more social than most reptiles. They form groups made up of one or more bonded pairs of adults plus several other related or unrelated skinks.
- Including its tail, this skink can grow up to 32 inches long, almost 3 feet!
Maryland Zoo: Prehenslel-tailed Skink https://www.marylandzoo.org/animal/prehensile-tailed-skink/
Zoo Atlanta: Prehensile-tailed Skink https://zooatlanta.org/animal/prehensile-tailed-skink/
Aquarium of the Pacific Online Learning Center: https://www.aquariumofpacific.org/onlinelearningcenter/species/prehensile_tailed_skink