Prehensile Tailed Skink

Basic Information:

Scientific Name: Corucia zebrata

Habitat: Prehensile tailed skinks can be found in the upper canopy of forested areas in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands archipelago.

Diet: Prehensile tailed skinks are herbivores and are known to eat leaves, flowers, fruit, and shoots of various plants.

Size: 2 to 3 feet long

Weight: 0.8 to 1.8 pounds

Lifespan: 15.5 years for males and 11.5 years for females according to AZA Species Survival Statistics

Distribution Map:

I.U.C.N. Conservation Status:

What does this mean?

Near Threatened – a species that is determined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (I.U.C.N.) to be declining in population and may meet the criteria for a threatened status in the near future.

Our "On-Exhibit" Prehensile Tailed Skinks:

Monkey (Male) – Born November 12, 2021
Schroeder (Male) – Born December 11, 2016
Peppermint Patty (Female) – Born November 7, 2007
Sophia (Female) – Estimated Date of Birth Between 1999 & 2005

Our "Ambassador" Prehensile Tailed Skink:

Dooley (Female)- Born June 5, 2011

About Prehensile Tailed Skinks:

Also known as the Solomon Islands skink, monkey-tailed skink, giant skink, zebra skink, and monkey skink, the prehensile tailed skink is native to the forested areas of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Island archipelago. First discovered by British zoologist John Edward Gray in 1855, they were given their scientific name – Corucia zebrata – from the Latin word coruscus meaning “shimmering.” This was done because of the shiny effect produced by skink’s scales. They are also known for their grasping tail which helps them balance on the trees of their natural habitat. Prehensile tailed skinks are the largest known species of skink in the world. In 1997, it was determined that there are 2 subspecies of the prehensile tailed skink: the common monkey-tailed skink (Corucia zebrata zebrata) and the northern monkey-tailed skink (Corucia zebrata alfredschmidti). Due to their popularity among the pet trade, export of the prehensile tailed skink away from the Solomon Islands has since been forbidden. 

Did You Know?!

  • Prehensile tailed skinks do not have the ability to regenerate if their tails like some other lizards.
  • Prehensile tailed skinks are mainly crepuscular meaning that they are primarily active during the early morning and early evening.
  • Prehensile tailed skinks are the only known species of skink with a prehensile, or grasping, tail (so the name checks out!).
  • Prehensile tailed skinks are very territorial and live in a group called a circulus.
  • Prehensile tailed skinks are one of the few species of reptiles to function as a social family unit. Adult females will “adopt” orphaned young skinks.

The Utica Zoo will close at 3pm on 12/31 and will reopen with normal hours on 1/1!