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Cunningham's skink advice

Posted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:08 am
by SkyRocket
Hi All,
I am new to this forum but have been keeping and breeding reptiles for about 30 years (since I was a little kid). I am based in the UK and last year acquired a trio of Cunningham's skinks - I say trio but apart from knowing one of them is 100% male, I am unsure of the others. The male is 6 years old and the unknowns 4 years old.

A bit of history for you - the male was a single animal that had lived alone all his life. The other two grew up together and had never been apart (no issues ever observed between them). They were introduced into a single enclosure in Autumn 2012 and were watched closely (I am aware of the potential for aggression). The definite male proceeded to sniff out the other skinks and went about chasing one of them while gently nipping the tail and flanks. After a couple of days it calmed down and they have all been living in harmony ever since - no fighting or bickering at all.

I have spoken to a couple of breeders (one who has kept this species for many years) and he is of the opinion that they must be 1.2 because otherwise I would have a dead skink on my hands. Another breeder says he has managed to keep reverse trios but only if they are raised together from a very young age. Apparently it is extremely hard integrating adults into a colony and generally better off raising them together from a very early age. Be that as it may I seem to have got away with it.

I am aware that physically this species is very hard to sex and I only know one is definitely male because the hemipenes have been clearly sighted in addition to sperm plugs.

They did not breed last year, but I am trying a different approach this season and can only hope for the best.

I would like to ask experienced E.Cunninghami keepers/breeders about their experiences and the likelihood of my having at least one of each gender.

Also, while we are about it, for how long do you E.cunninghami breeders brumate your animals? Have you experimented with different periods and if so what were the results? I am especially interested in feed back from non-Australian keepers as a lot of you lucky people in Oz get to cheat by using outdoor enclosures :).

Thanks in advance.

Adam

Re: Cunningham's skink advice

Posted: Tue Jan 28, 2014 2:54 am
by SkyRocket
Anyone out there? :)

Re: Cunningham's skink advice

Posted: Tue Jan 28, 2014 3:30 pm
by Dakota
Most keepers giving advice are in Australia. :)

Re: Cunningham's skink advice

Posted: Tue Jan 28, 2014 4:09 pm
by Richard.C
Be patient,someone will chime in

Re: Cunningham's skink advice

Posted: Tue Jan 28, 2014 4:21 pm
by Richard.C
When i had mine indoors(not cheating) i cooled with no heat for 6 weeks,but they slowed down before lights out and took a while to get super active after 6 weeks,cold room kept ambients down,suprisingly though they are quite cold adapted,and stay more active in cold than even blotched blueys

I had one really big one that harrassed a big male enough i had to remove the male,it dominated the others to,one year i removed it as it got worse,i presumed it was a male but found 6 babies in with it,perhaps gravidity made it fiestier to cage mates,point being even females can have pecking orders making behaviour sexing not always accurate unless u see mating

Re: Cunningham's skink advice

Posted: Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:51 am
by SkyRocket
Hi Richard,
Yes they are remarkably well adapted for cold. When I cooled them in the attic last year I would often find them out and about in 16 degrees C. They altered position with alarming regularity and it left me thinking this is a lizard adapted to survive harsh conditions. Today it is 17 degrees in the skink tank and they all got up by about 10:00am and now two have disappeared leaving one snoozing in the same position. Yesterday it was 15 degrees in the tank and one came out briefly with two staying hidden in their caves all day. What sort of temperatures did your animals experience over the 6 weeks and was that always long enough to trigger a breeding response? How long after emerging from brumation did the males become interested in the females? I spoke with Phil Tremper from Lizard ranch in the US and he says that his males always take 2 months post cooling to show any interest.

When you took them inside did you cool them in their usual tank/pen/territory? I have been chatting with a fellow enthusiast in the UK called Mark (possibly the only bloke breeding them here). You will know him well from this forum, I am sure, and one year he removed his E.cunninghami from their tank and used a different tub subjected to harsher winter conditions (v cold and no light). After this experiment they didn't breed at all! When previously they had been breeding quite happily in their own vivarium.

Sexing is proving a real problem for the unknown two. What is your opinion on the likelihood of my having a dead skink by now if two of them were male? Bearing in mind they were introduced as sexually mature adults that had never met before.

Cheers

Adam