Tribolonotus gracilis, a small species of tropical Skink from Indonesia, has red eyes and is a crocodile skink. And it is impossible to explain why these terrestrial lizards resemble dragons!

If you’re a reptile lover, you must adore the exotic red-eyed crocodile skink. The stunning features of these distinctive lizards will spark interesting exchanges among guests.

Since they are so timid, red-eyed crocodile skinks are better suited for displays than pets that you can handle or even keep an eye on all the time.

You can anticipate your dragon-like pet to live for up to 10 years if you treat them respectfully and focus on giving them excellent red-eyed crocodile skink care. Quite the commitment!

Now let us learn more about the traits and characteristics of these tiny reptile skinks and see if they could be your pet!

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Scincidae
Genus: Tribolonotus
Scientific Name: Tribolonotus gracilis

Table of Contents

Distribution And Habitat of Red-eyed Crocodile Skink

The only natural habitat where the red-eyed crocodile skink can be found is on the Oceanian state of Papua New Guinea and the island of New Guinea in the Indonesian archipelago.

Crocodile skinks live in smoggy tropical forests where the daytime temperature can reach 81 °F, and the nighttime temperature can reach 73 °F. They can also acclimate to living in human-populated areas, as evidenced by their colonization of heaps of coconut husks on a coconut farm in Madang Province.

Red-eyed Crocodile Skink’s Appearance

With their red eyes and armored scales, Red-Eyed Crocodile Skinks are undoubtedly one of the more unusual-looking lizards. Skinks have bristly skin scales with bony plates beneath the scales. This fusion of body scales and bony protrusions provides them with substantial protection!

Red-eyed skinks have reddish-orange scales around their eyes as well. These renowned reddish eye scales are usually less noticeable in younger babies and newborns but become more noticeable later as the scales darken.

Hatchlings are born with lighter-colored heads that darken with the maturity level. Adults are typically dark brown, black, or gray, with a softer underbelly.

Males and females have similar body colors, though males can have extended orange scales close to the middle of their abdomen. Males are generally longer and bulkier than females, with noticeable pore spaces on their hind feet’s palms. During mating, these pores emit pheromones that are thought to attract females.

Hatchlings are about 2.25 inches long when they are born. As adults, red-eyed crocodile skinks grow 8 to 10 inches long.

These skinks are much tinier than other pet lizard species, such as their Blue-Tongued Skink relatives. They are also relatively light, weighing 36 and 45 grams when fully grown at 3 to 4 years old.

Red-eyed Crocodile Skink’s Behavior

Red-eyed crocodile skinks exhibit distinct behaviors from other lizards. They are one of the few reptile species that can cry out or verbalize when threatened. When startled, they freeze and play possum!

These crocodile skinks are generally shy entities. They rarely attack unless threatened. You should avoid dealing with them regularly. They may jump, flee for cover, freeze, make sounds, or play dead when you attempt to handle them. They may even drop their tails in some cases.

The tail will eventually grow back, but it will not be the same as before. Your pet’s health will suffer as a result of the stress and infection from the wound.

Diet And Nutrition for Red-eyed Crocodile Skink

Despite their ability to climb, red-eyed crocodile skinks devote most of their time moving around the soil surface, scouring for maggots, small worms, and bugs. Red-eyed crocodile skinks are carnivores that prey on insects. Fruit flies, mealworms, and small crickets are among the insects they love to guzzle!

Mating And Regrubsion on Red-eyed Crocodile Skink

Males have distinguishable pores called volar pores that discharge odors as the males move around. Scent-marking does not function in water because the compounds quickly solubilize and are fairly distributed, making locating the origin challenge.

On the other hand, the odors remain more intense near their origin in the air, allowing the species to follow a concentration gradient. Because female crocodile skinks lack these secretion pores on their feet, it is suspected that male crocodile skinks secrete a compound to attract females.

The crocodile skink’s breeding season in the wild begins in December and lasts until March. In captivity, however, breeding can begin at any time by regulating the temperature and moisture of its ecosystems. However, the female red-eyed crocodile Skink has two ovaries and only the correct one functions.

The red-eyed crocodile skink lays only one egg and wraps itself tightly around it throughout its development! Furthermore, newborns remain with their mothers for up to two weeks after hatching. Red-eyed crocodile skinks are thus among the most dedicated reptile parental figures.

The lifespan of Red-eyed Crocodile Skink

The red-eyed crocodile skink has a long life for such a tiny reptile. While the typical lifespan is about 5-6 years, the longest surviving specimen ever documented lived in captivity for 12 years!

Care sheet for Red-Eyed Crocodile Skinks As Pets

The red-eyed crocodile skink is a tiny skink with a prehistoric look that is easy to handle for seasoned reptile parents. While they are not particularly active, their enigmatic nature and magnificent appearance will impress any exotic reptile aficionado lucky enough to see them.

Some people keep red-eyed crocodile skinks as pet reptiles, but it’s unclear how well these lizards adapt to confinement – even when raised in captivity.


Crocodile skinks prefer cooler ambient temperatures and should be retained at 72-76 degrees Fahrenheit. You should provide a basking area with temperatures between 85 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.


UVB lighting can provide enough heat to reach the necessary temperatures, making additional heat sources unnecessary. You should use UVB full spectrum light sources with a 12 to 14-light cycle to keep the red-eyed crocodile skink healthy and thriving.

Humidity levels

Because red-eyed crocodile skinks are tropical lizards, they prefer high moisture levels at all times, up to 90%. A healthy Skink requires at least 70% ambient humidity for proper development and shedding while preventing dehydration.

Enclosure size

A newborn or two can easily be housed in a 12x12x12 chamber, but an adult or adult pair should have at least a 18x18x12 compartment. Adults should only be accommodated alone or in a single pair.


Red-Eyed Crocodile Skinks are true insectivores, meaning they eat mostly Dubia roaches, crickets, and mealworms. They can also consume small invertebrates such as red worms and silkworms. These cuties will only need insects, no fruits or veggies, which should be gut packed and supplemented with vitamins and minerals.


Red-eyed crocodile skinks require a surface that encourages evaporation while preventing mold growth in high-humidity environments. A desirable substrate:

  • A 1 to 2-inch top layer of long-fiber sphagnum moss,
  • covered with brown oak foliage, and
  • an absorbent or draining lower layer of hydroponic clay.

Health guidelines for Red-eyed Crocodile Skink

The red-eyed crocodile skink’s major susceptibility to certain illnesses is the typical reptilian problem of intestinal parasites and metabolic bone disease!

This ailment, triggered by a lack of calcium or vitamin D3 in the meal, is always a significant worry for captive reptiles. They cannot use vitamin D3 without UV light and appropriately metabolize calcium without sufficient vitamin D3.

Fortunately, you can prevent metabolic bone disease by sprinkling Skink’s diet with a calcium powder and vitamin D3 supplement.

Warning signs (if you notice any of these symptoms, make sure to take your pet to a vet)

  • Weight loss or reduced appetite
  • Release or driblets from eyes, mouth, or nose
  • Lesions, swelling, or bruise of the skin or retained shed
  • Tiredness
  • Sneezing, runny nose, or difficulty breathing
  • Weakness or paralysis of limbs
  • Runny or bloody stool or no stool

Conservation Status

There are currently no significant threats to Red-eyed crocodile skinks. The Red-eyed crocodile skink is prevalent throughout its spectrum, according to the IUCN, but no population estimate is present, currently classified as Least Concern (LC).

Commonly Asked Questions

How big do red-eyed crocodile skinks get?

Red-eyed crocodile skinks grow to be 7–9 inches long.

Can red-eyed crocodile skinks swim?

Red-eyed crocodile skinks love swimming. So, a small dish in its enclosure would be great!

Can you hold a red-eyed crocodile skink?

Red-eyed crocodile skinks can be held, but it is essential not to do this frequently as it causes them to stress out.

How long do red-eyed crocodile skinks live?

Red-eyed crocodile skinks can live up to 10 to 14 years in captivity.

You should now have a decent concept of what it’s like to keep a Red-Eyed Crocodile Skink. Whether you are new to reptile care or an experienced reptile expert, the red-eyed crocodile skink is an excellent lizard pet for both beginners and experts.

This pet is the closest thing to owning a tiny crocodile! So, do you believe this Skink is suitable for you?

(Last Updated on November 23, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Shradha Bhatta holds a Bachelors’s Degree in Social Work along with a Post-graduate degree in Project Management from Georgian College in Canada. Shradha enjoys writing on various topics and takes pleasure in discovering new ideas. Her life’s mission is to make the world a better place for all beings.