The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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All living organisms have self-preservation tendencies. Any animal that feels its life is threatened will react in self-defense, whether it’s a skink, dog, or even an owl.
Owls will defend themselves using their talons, and dogs will growl and bare their teeth. So, what will skinks do? Do skinks bite?
Yes, skinks bite when they feel threatened. Their bite hardly does any harm, though, no thanks to their small size. Some large species may cause blood draw and pain, but small skinks won’t harm.
If you’re wondering about skinks’ bite and survival instincts, follow me through this article!
Do Skinks Bite Humans?
Skinks bite when they’re angry, annoyed, or scared. They mainly do it when they feel threatened as most animals do. Lizards are generally known for having quite the temper, so they may attempt to bite if they’re angry as well.
If you’re thinking of raising a skink, you’ll need to know how to deal with it. Otherwise, you’d get bitten faster than you blink.
Skinks bite humans when they feel like they’re being approached. So when you want to hold your lizard, it’s always better to wait until it comes to you. If you make any sudden movements or approach it the wrong way, it may attempt to bite.
It also doesn’t hurt to make some noise when you’re close, so the skink knows you’re there and realizes what you’re doing.
If you have a skink and you notice that it’s attempting to bite you a lot, you should try to know the reason. Skinks mostly bite because they’re afraid. If there’s no reason for them to be scared, then the biting issue might be because of something else.
They may not like their habitat, or they don’t like their new tank mate. In all cases, it’s better to try and know what’s setting them off.
Why Do Skinks Bite Humans?
Skinks bite for a variety of reasons. However, like most animals, they do it to protect themselves. I know what you’re thinking; if a human wants to hurt a skink, its bite will do nothing to stop it.
That’s not how nature works, though. When skinks feel threatened, they start biting because their self-defense instincts kick in. They don’t give much thought to the attacker’s size or danger.
Here are the most common reasons for skink bites.
1 – Rough Handling
Skinks are no dogs. Dogs won’t ever mind you handling them or petting them constantly. They’ll actually encourage the behavior, but I can’t say the same about skinks. When you’re holding them rougher or more than usual, they may attempt to bite you as a way of telling you to stop.
Lizards, in general, love to stay along for some time. If they feel like they’re not getting it, they’ll try to grab your attention, and biting may be their weapon of choice.
2 – Hunger
Well, I can’t blame the skinks for this one. I might bite too when I’m hungry.
Some skinks may bite when they’re too hungry, and more often than not, it’s because of annoyance. When you notice such behavior, make sure the skink is getting enough food. If you feed it right, it likely won’t show this hostile behavior again.
3 – Stress
Stress takes its toll on all living organisms. Humans, animals, birds, and even rodents will react to stress in different ways. In the case of skinks, they may try to bite you when they’re stressed.
Skinks usually suffer stress after changing their habitat. So they might be stressed when you first adopt them because of the new environment around them. As a result, they’ll try to bite every now and then to express their distress.
You may prevent these instances by making sure to handle your skink right and not showing up suddenly or touching its mouth.
Skinks generally like to have their space when they’re stressed, so you may want to give them that.
4 – Mouth Touching
Skinks don’t like anyone touching their mouths. In fact, I doubt any animal will like that.
If your skink feels your finger on its mouth, it may try to bite in defense. But, even if it’s not your finger, the skink will try to bite whatever object is touching its mouth.
Try to avoid touching your lizard’s mouth, even by accident, because it’ll definitely try to leave a thank-you note on your finger.
5 – Sickness
When skinks aren’t feeling well, they tend to hide and stay alone to protect themselves from predators. Even though there aren’t any predators in your house, the skink may feed the need to defend itself when it’s feeling ill.
So, when you try to handle your lizard while sick, it may try to grab a bite. The best approach, in this case, is taking your skink to the vet to avoid any unfortunate instances.
Signs That Your Skink Is About to Bite You
You can always prevent a painful act when you see it coming. If you know your skink is about to bite, you can move away, leave it alone, or prevent the bite in any way you see fit.
Here are the most common signs that your skink is about to bite you.
When lizards feel threatened by a predator or a human, they’ll puff up to make their bodies look larger than they are. If you see your skink puffing up its chest and attempting to look scary, run, Forest, run!
That behavior is mainly associated with wild predators, though. So, it’s a slim chance you’ll see your home-raised skink doing it.
Not all lizards flick their tongues when threatened or annoyed, but some skinks do. Blue-tongued ones, in particular, will do it when your presence annoys them. They may be telling you that they need some space.
Hissing is a common act of aggression among animals and rodents, and skinks are no different. They’ll hiss at you when they’re annoyed or irritated at something. You should get the hint and move away, or else they may try to throw a bite.
Mouth Wide Open
Okay, the previous signs may be mistaken, but this one explains itself. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a skink will bite when it has its mouth wide open. When you notice your skink widening its mouth, move away because it’ll definitely try to bite you.
In an opposite action to puffing up, some skinks bring their bodies flat to the ground when threatened. They do it to look bigger and scarier, so it’s a sign for the predator to pack off. Your skink may or may not try to bite you after flattening its body, but it’s always better to be on the safe side.
Are Some Skinks More Likely to Bite Than Others?
Yes, some skins are more likely to bite than others. For example, males tend to be more aggressive than females, so they’re more likely to attempt to bite you. If you want less chance of getting bitten, you may want to adopt a female.
On top of that, some species of skinks are more likely to bite than others, like the blue-tongued skink. Some species are even considered unsafe for family houses because they may bite children and babies.
Do Skinks Have Teeth?
Yes, they do have pleurodont teeth, which have longer roots than other types. So, the teeth are basically attached to the lizards’ jawbones.
Most skinks have 40 teeth, but they’re small, so they may not hurt you if they decide to give you a bite. The teeth are sharp, though, because the skinks use them to eat. They cut through plants, insects, or other food using these teeth.
Anyway, you shouldn’t worry about the skinks’ teeth. They won’t attempt to bite you if you know when to leave them alone and when to handle them. The teeth are also too small to do real damage to the human skin.
It’s worth noting, though, that different species have different teeth with varying levels of sharpness, so it depends on the skink of your choice.
What to Do If a Skink Bites You
If your skink happens to get the best of you and bite your finger, there’s little to do. First of all, skinks aren’t poisonous, so you don’t have to worry about removing the venom like the way it is with some lizards.
The only damage that may occur is a cut on your finger due to their sharp teeth. However, smaller skinks won’t have fully developed teeth, so they’ll hardly break through your skin.
All that said, skinks don’t bite and run. They keep latching onto the finger, and you’ll need to remove them from your hand. If you remove them in the wrong way, they may injure your finger.
In this case, make sure to clean the cut to avoid bacterial infection. You can also use a disinfectant just to make sure.
The last thing you want to do is fight back. That’ll cause the skink to become further irritated, and it’ll definitely try to bite again. Plus, skinks aren’t like cats and dogs. They can’t be trained to stop a certain behavior. If they bite you once, they’ll do it again when they feel threatened. All you have to do is gently remove them from your finger and handle them carefully.
Tips for Handling Skinks to Avoid Bites
If you want to raise a skink and don’t want to get bitten, there are some tips you can use. They won’t guarantee that the skink won’t try to bite you, but you can at least try.
- Give your skink a treat when you feel it wants to attack. This will help build trust between you both.
- When handling your skink, make sure to look directly into its eyes. Lizards often communicate using their eyes, and the small act will let them know you’re trustworthy.
- In the first week of having the skink in your house, avoid handling it. Wait until it gets used to its new environment.
- If you’re raising a blue-tongued skink, avoid handling it by its tail. These lizards are sneaky, and they don’t like being handled from their tails. When they feel a threat, they’ll detach their tails.
- Try to read a book for your lizard when it’s still getting used to your presence. This will help it get used to your voice and trust it.
- Try not to hold your skink suddenly or out of nowhere because it’ll feel threatened and attack you.
- Keep handling your skink gently until it gets used to it, even if it tries to bite you. If you stop doing it after the first attack, the skink will attack again every time you attempt to do it.
Do Skinks Bite Dogs?
Yes, skinks may bite dogs, but it’s a rare occurrence. If you’re raising skinks and dogs together in one house, you probably have more to worry about than bites.
The skinks will only attempt to bite your dog if he’s being aggressive towards it, and it’ll be out of fear. However, most skinks will resort to running away for some alone time when they feel threatened by your dog. And, a lot of them won’t even perceive the dog as a threat, so they won’t bother fighting or attacking.
You may get worried if you see the lizard attempting to eat something off the puppy’s coat. That’s likely a reaction to aggression, so you’ll want to monitor the dog and make sure he’s not bothering the skink.
Like most animals do when they’re afraid, skinks do bite. However, their bite is nothing to worry about because their teeth are too small to harm you. Plus, they only do it when they’re afraid. If you build trust with your skink and handle it gently, it won’t attempt to attack you.
It’s worth mentioning, though, that male skinks are more likely to bite. So, you may want to consider raising a female if you’re afraid of bites.