Creature Feature: Prehensile Tailed Skink

Prehensile Tail Skink, aka Solomon Island Skink, aka Monkey Tail Skink

Corucia zebrata

Reptiles Alive Name: “Mortimer”


Hissstory: Mortimer belonged to a former Reptiles Alive animal keeper who left for another job and left Morty here  in May 2002.

Zoo Diet: Greens, vegetables, and fruit.

Natural Diet: Leaves,  blossoms, and fruit.

Range: Solomon Islands near Papua New Guinea and Australia.

Habitat: The canopy of old-growth tropical rain forest.

Size: Prehensile tailed skinks are one of the largest skink species in the world!  They can grow 18-24 inches long, most of which is tail.

Lifespan: Prehensile tailed skinks can live over 25 years.

Reproduction: Unlike most lizards, prehensile tailed skinks bear live young and even care for their babies!  They become very protective of the one or two large baby skinks for about a year after giving birth.

Conservation: Prehensile tailed skinks are sometimes eaten by indigenous people, but their biggest problems are the pet trade and habitat destruction.  They are now listed as CITES Appendix II and are  no longer legally imported for the pet trade.

Cool Facts: Prehensile tailed skinks are nocturnal – they come out at night and sleep in the day.  Because of their funny faces and nightime habits, they are sometimes referred to as “Island Gnomes” or ghosts, by the people who live in the Solomon Islands.