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  • Egernia cunninghami


      Egernia cunninghami

      These skinks are around in the market place in New Zealand but still relatively rare.


      A fairly large skink that grows to 30cm, it has a long tail with keeled scales along its dorsal surface from the back of the neck down to the tip of the pointed tail, it has short legs and colours vary from dark brown and reddish to a jet black with scattered patches of paler scales.


      The species from south-east Queensland down through New South Wales and into central Victoria., there is a population in  South Australia where it is restricted to the Mount Lofty Ranges and Fleurieu Peninsula. Individuals in the north tend to be slightly smaller. and a more reddish shade while southern populations are darker and more patterned. Protected in all states of Australia and Listed as endangered in South Australia


      Usually found in forests and woodlands with rocky outcrops where they can bask in the sun and escape to crevices in the rock if threatened.


      Being an omnivorous lizard they feed on a variety of invertebrates such as insects, snails and slugs as well as vegetation such as fruit and leaves. Invertebrates such as crickets, locusts, slaters, cockroaches, mealworms, soldier fly larvae and beetles can be fed out. A wide variety of fruits and vegetabless such as apples, bananas, lettuce, endive, watermelon (not the seeds), tomatoes, carrot, mangoes, cucumber, zucchini, clover and the flowers of roses, hibiscus and dandelions and many more. Juveniles tend to eat more insects than vegetation or fruit, remember to wash all foods before feeding out to remove any possible traces  of insecticides.

      Raw meat such as beef and chicken also are taken as well as raw and boiled chicken eggs.

       “The captive diet for this species at the Australian Museum is provided in three feeds within a period of a week. These consist of a small feed of chopped vegetables on one day, a small serving of kangaroo mince on another day as well five crickets or a snail for the third feeding. The timing and order of the diet is changed around to simulate natural conditions and prevent stereotypical behaviour (where an animal will have predicable activity patterns and essentially be waiting to be fed). This food is supplemented with calcium and vitamin powder to ensure that a nutritionally balanced diet is provided.”

       This species is viviparous with females producing litters of 1 to 7 live young and mating is usually from late August to early March in the wild.


      Although they are social and live in colonies in the wild they usually have a dominant male and in smaller enclosures this can lead to serious injury or death for any other males, it is best to raise a group of babies up together, as they will form a breeding colony. An adult pair of Cunningham’s need a cage at least 120cm x 40cm x 40cm, increase that size if keeping a group together such as one male and 3 or 4 females.

      A standard terrarium set up that is well ventilated works best and substrates commonly used are fine bark, artificial grass or peat and coco fibre, try to avoid fine sand as it can get in the eyes and cause infection/blockages of the tear ducts. Sand if ingested sand can also cause impaction in the stomach, if using fake grass you should have 2 pieces cut to size, so when one gets soiled the other can be put in while other gets washed. Logs, driftwood and stable rockwork gives them somewhere to hide, even clay tubes or plant pots work well, a large water dish should be provided as they like to bathe in it.

      The enclosure will need a thermo gradient, i.e.: one end warmer than the other, as if it is either too hot or cold the lizard has a place to retreat to. A large flat rock placed on a heat pad makes a good basking spot, place the UVB lighting at this end too so they get the best of both. Ideal temperatures for Cunningham’s are about 31 to 35 degrees C at the warm end of the cage and 25C at the cool end.


      Providing UVB lighting is necessary for these sunbathing skinks and can be provided through commercially available tubes such as "REPTI-GLOW 5.0" or "REPTI-SUN 5.0" both of these commercially available tubes mimic natural sunlight’s spectrum including UVA and UVB. Which are both vital for healthy bone growth as it aids in the proper digestion of Calcium in reptiles and most amphibians. The light source needs to be placed at least 200mm of the basking spot to ensure the full benefits of them get to the skinks. Don’t forget to change the tubes every 6 months. A photoperiod of 14 hours light to 8 dark in summer and 12 hours light and 12 dark in winter approximates their natural habitat. Ceramic heat emitters work well as they don’t provide light to upset the photoperiod but ensure the skinks can’t climb onto them with a cage or hung high enough.




      Victorian Herpetological Society

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