Despite their importance to the ecosystem, are skinks poisonous? In the wild, they subsist on a diet of insects and, on occasion, pests, and are themselves preyed upon by a variety of other animals.
You don’t want to end up with a Red-eyed Crocodile Skink if you’re on the lookout for a skink that is more of a companion and doesn’t hate being touched.
But more importantly, how long are you willing to commit to caring for the animal? Keep reading this info-filled article to find out more about these interesting pets.
What Does the Skink Look Like?
Skinks, like lizards, often have external ear canals, eyelids, and four legs. Most skink species, in contrast to real lizards, have shorter legs and no visible neck.
Skinks resemble snakes more than lizards due to their long, slender body and the way they move. However, the Fitzsimmons legless skink and the coastal legless skink of South Africa are just two examples of skinks that lack limbs.
The skink’s head is elevated and pointed upward, and its entire body is coated in bony scales that overlap at regular intervals.
In addition, skinks have full eyelids that help them maintain moist eyes with dilated pupils while they go about their day.
The average length from the snout to the vent of a skink is only about five inches. Although its tail accounts for half its total length, the Solomon Islands skink can reach a length of three feet.
The pygmy blue-tongued skink, on the other hand, is just four inches long and is the tiniest and rarest of all skink species.
In addition, skinks can be found in a wide range of colours and patterns, from those that blend in with their surroundings to those that stand out with stripes or spots.
The male five-lined skink, for example, has a distinctive orange-reddish colouration on its head during the breeding season to signal its availability.
Read also: How to Get Rid of Skinks
Do Skinks Bite?
Skinks have sharp fangs and powerful jaws that can clamp down on human flesh. However, you shouldn’t worry about getting bitten by them.
Bites from skinks are often minor, superficial, and painless. About 40 little, sharp teeth (pleurodont teeth) are permanently fused into a skink’s jawbones.
Although they are not typically violent creatures, they may resort to biting in self-defence situations. Since skinks lack sharp claws and powerful limbs, they must resort to biting to defend themselves.
Skinks, like any other kind of lizard, are capable of biting. However, skinks are typically docile and shy, so they won’t just bite you.
They use their razor-sharp teeth not just to protect themselves from potential predators, but also to capture prey when hunting or feeding.
How Do You Know a Skink is Going to Bite?
When a skink bites you, this only means that it has seen you as a threat and acted in self-defence. Typically, there will be signs of a skink bite before it happens. The signals you need to look out for include:
- They Puff Up:
As most lizards lack effective defence mechanisms, this is a common strategy used to warn off potential predators.
- They Hiss:
When threatened, most lizards will hiss. This behaviour is typically interpreted as a warning.
- They Flatten their Bodies:
Skinks may flatten their bodies and hiss when confronted in an attempt to seem longer and more threatening than they are.
- They Flick their Tongues:
Researchers have shown that skinks when they feel threatened, hold back on exhibiting their full tongues until the very end of an assault.
Read also: Do House Lizards Eat Cockroaches?
Are Skinks Dangerous to Humans?
Although skinks superficially resemble snakes, they are not venomous or poisonous. Their bites are rather harmless, too. As a result, they are completely safe around people.
Bites from skinks are often harmless and short-lived. When biting, these lizards do not aim to cause serious damage to human tissue. Instead, they choose to immediately tighten restrictitor to intimidate their opponent.
Sometimes a victim of a bite won’t even know it until they notice a little puncture wound on their skin.
Small blood blisters can form from some skink bites, while others may just leave minor scrapes. As long as you avoid doing anything to anger a skink, you shouldn’t have to worry about it biting you.
Skins are non-venomous, which means they don’t spew toxins at potential predators or threats from anywhere on their bodies, and they also have harmless bites.
They are non-lethal to people and other animals, making them one of the safest reptiles to keep as pets.
Skinks are more prone to bite when threatened in captivity or when being handled than they would be in the wild. But skinks’ fangs don’t poison either.
Are Skinks Poisonous to Humans?
There is no venom or other poison in a skink’s body that may produce an adverse reaction in a human being. Insects, amphibians, and reptiles typically display their toxicity through the use of vivid colours.
Many people mistakenly believe that all skinks are poisonous due to their brightly coloured skin. However, contrary to common assumptions, skinks are completely safe to handle and care for.
Various sized skinks exist. The average length of the smallest species is about 3 inches, while the longest species can reach a maximum size of 14 inches.
Small skink bites feel like a quick pinch on the arm or finger, whereas larger skinks can penetrate the skin but do no other damage.
Are Skinks Poisonous to Dogs and Cats?
Accidental ingestion of a skink by a dog or cat won’t kill them. Skinks are not usually venomous and do not cause any lasting harm, but some inquisitive dogs may poke at them or even eat them.
However, cats have a natural predilection for hunting and may be persuaded to kill a skink. Eating a skink won’t cause any long-term problems for your cat, just like it won’t for your dog.
However, in extremely unusual circumstances, skinks may harbour Salmonella germs, making skink consumption dangerously poisonous.
Skinks, like many other lizards, feed mostly on insects like crickets, beetles, and grasshoppers. But skinks are vulnerable to their own set of predators.
Skinks have keen teeth, but they also employ the loss of their tails as a deterrent against predators.
Read also: Do Lizards Eat Frogs?
Skinks are animals, too, and deserve our attention and care. Never intentionally anger a skink, and be on the lookout for warning signs (such as a tongue flick or hiss) that it might bite if provoked.
If the animal appears apprehensive or anxious, it’s best not to pick it up out of fear that it will bite out of instinct.
Thank you for reading and do well to handle your pet skink with care.