Prehensile-tailed Skinks

August 17, 2023

Lincoln Park Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of two prehensile-tailed skinks at Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House. A female skink, who had previously given birth in July of last year, had her second litter of twins on Saturday, August 13.

If you’ve seen the habitat recently, you may have noticed how big and uncomfortable the skink looked as she approached full term. Young skinks can weigh 20 percent of an adult skink when they are born. Imagine, if you will, a human giving birth to a 30-pound child!

The skink was paired with a male as recommended by the Prehensile-tailed Skink Species Survival Plan®; the father of the twins is currently off-exhibit. Fortunately, this birth was less eventful than the one in 2022, when one neonate did not survive the process and the other was discovered through a radiograph to be in a breeched position that required intervention from veterinary staff. The procedure was fortunately successful, and the mother skink delivered a healthy newborn.

When it comes to reproduction, these skinks do not act like many other lizards. Instead of laying eggs, prehensile-tailed skinks have live births after a gestation period of 6–8 months. They are initially protective of their young and live with them in a communal group called a circulus. This group includes the parents and unrelated adults as well as their offspring—at least, until the juveniles leave to form their own families.

The family group here at the zoo now includes four animals that can be seen at Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House: the dam, her one-year-old offspring, and the two new additions. Given how big they were at birth, you might want to come visit soon so you can see them before they reach their adult size!

Empty Playlist