SOLOMON ISLANDS PREHENSILE-TAILED SKINK
HABITAT AND RANGE
This skink is found mostly in the Solomon Islands. However, it is now distributed all over the world through the pet trade. They inhabit tropical rain forests and are mainly nocturnal, hanging on branches or hiding in tree hollows during the day.
The head of the prehensile tailed skink is large and flat with small eyes. These large skinks range in color from dark green to a near black. Black, yellow, and shades of various greens decorate the back, tail, and belly in random spots or stripes. Their scales are smooth and flat. They have a short tongue that is broad, flat and fleshy. These skinks have large powerful claws and a long prehensile tail, which enables them to sustain a rich arboreal life. They can grow to be up to 30 inches long, making them one of the largest of the skinks.
This skink is almost exclusively herbivorous, eating fruits and vegetables. They rarely eat insects.
REPRODUCTION AND LIFESPAN
The prehensile tailed skink has a relatively long gestation period, which last six to seven months. Females give birth to one to two offspring at a time. The young stays in close association with the parent although the parent does not directly protect the babies. The presence of the adult skink deters some predators like raptors, boas, rates and shrews, which prey the young. The young skink is able to live independently and they forage for their own food at a very young age.
The prehensile tailed skink is not endangered or threatened, but it is facing danger from overcollection for the pet trade. Natives eat this large skink, and others keep them as pets and they are becoming increasingly popular in zoos.