On your next visit to Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House, be sure to peer into the prehensile-tailed skink habitat and see if you can spot the newest arrival at the building. On July 21, a female prehensile-tailed skink gave birth—the first time this particular species has done so at Lincoln Park Zoo since 2003! The neonate is doing well and continues to grow in size and strength.
While most lizards hatch out of eggs, prehensile-tailed skinks are viviparous, meaning the offspring develops within the reproductive tract of the female and is nourished via a placental-like structure. The gestation period for the species ranges from 6-8 months, and the young become quite large when developing inside the female ( nearly 20% of an adult’s weight) — picture a human giving birth to a 30 lb. child!
Lincoln Park Zoo’s Veterinary team works hard to ensure the animals at the zoo receive the best possible care. In this specific instance, the zoo’s veterinarians assisted in the birth of the neonate. When Animal Care team members noticed the female skink was having trouble during labor, she was transported to the zoo’s hospital for a radiograph—which determined that the neonate was in a breeched position (head facing the wrong way). Veterinary staff worked swiftly to anesthetize the female for her comfort during the delivery, and the team was able to assist with the birth without surgery. After successfully delivering the neonate, the team performed an all-over physical to ensure the infant was healthy.
Prehensile-tailed skinks are the largest of the skink species and are completely herbivorous, which is why zoo guests can observe frogs sharing their habitat. Be sure to stop by Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House to welcome the newest arrival.