Cunningham’s dilemma

Discussion in 'Australian Lizards and Monitors' started by Tinyroar, Aug 4, 2019.

  1. Tinyroar

    Tinyroar New Member

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    Hi all. So I recently acquired my first Cunningham skinks (3 of them). I have a blue tongue and 2 snakes so have experience with reptiles but first time with this breed.

    I set their enclosure up and was really proud of what I had provided them but now I’m a concerned reptile mumma. I didn’t realise at the time one of the logs had these holes and the skinks have gone in there, well two of them have there isn’t enough room for the last one so he is in the other hides I provided. I see him out often but I haven’t seen the other two since they went into the log. Obviously I’m not staring at them 24/7. Should I be concerned and try to get them out of there and remove the log? I’m worried they are stuck or will get stuck :/ my hubby thinks I’m worrying for nothing and did remind me I had a similar fear when our bluey was teeny tiny too.

    My other concern is handling. I’ve been told they are skittish and need a lot of handing to tame and get use to us... how can I do this if I can’t get to them??

    Thanks everyone :)


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    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 4, 2019
  2. dragonlover1

    dragonlover1 Subscriber Subscriber

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    Cunningham Skinks are part of a group called crevice skinks, that spiky tail is their best defense so they can't be pulled out. Don't panic, they will come out when ready and true they are not the most friendly lizard but some can become tame, we have 1 that seems to like us and doesn't mind being handled occasionally. Take your time with them, if you rush them they will never be calm enough to handle.
     
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  3. Tinyroar

    Tinyroar New Member

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    Thanks dragon lover. I’ve spent time just sitting at the enclosure with the door open for a bit. The one will not run unless I make a big noise or put my hand in. My plan was to do this as often as possible to hopefully build some trust.
    I know logically they are fine but just had a panicked moment I had done the wrong thing and they were stuck. The food has been getting eaten and I can’t imagine just the one is woofing it all down himself... well I hope anyways.

    I’ve only had them for a week so will just be patient :)


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  4. Bl69aze

    Bl69aze Very Well-Known Member

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    From my limited experience, they really arent an animal for handling, and mainly for viewing (during their active hours in the enclosure) They are not like a bearded dragon or snake who will happily sit on your shoulder, the best you will get is not freaking out, and maybe sitting in your hand without biting

    They are also quite skiddish and can be a pain to get out for cleaning their enclosure.

    They are really cool lizards though and as DL1 said, they do this as a protective measure
     
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  5. dragonlover1

    dragonlover1 Subscriber Subscriber

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    As with any new reptile you should always wait a week or so to let them settle in to their new home before trying to handle them. I just talk to them as I offer food etc. to try and get them used to new environment/new people etc. without trying to touch. When they relax a bit then you can try handling.
     
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  6. LilithLeChat

    LilithLeChat Active Member

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    One of my ackies has disappeared into a crack in the brick background of the enclosure for *three weeks* after we got them home. I actually though he might have died in there, but then I noticed the movement and realised he can come out, he just doesn’t want to.
    Then some switch in his head went “click” and he came out and immediately started accepting mealworms I offered with tongs, even climbing on my hand to get to it.
    Who knows what goes on in those reptile brains?
    I’m sure yours will come out when they’re good and ready.
     
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  7. Nero Egernia

    Nero Egernia Subscriber Subscriber

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    I keep King's Skinks (Egernia kingii). I guess you could call them WA's equivalent of a Cunningham's Skink. Here's my experience with them.

    King's Skinks are a little like monitor lizards in terms of handling. They're intelligent, independent, and not afraid to bite or scratch should they feel the need to. They typically don't like being handled and there's certainly some nasty tempered individuals out there if they've been interacted with the wrong way. But sometimes it can just be their personality.

    That being said, you can get them to the point where you can tong feed (and hand feed too, but I wouldn't recommend hand feeding them live invertebrates on a hot day) and handle them on their own terms. My advice is to leave them be until they settle into their new home. Trust is built slowly. Force handling tends to make them wilder. Only do so unless it's absolutely necessary.

    Time and patience will be your best friend here. Just carry on with your usual routine. Spot clean their enclosure, change the water, feed them, and essentially ignore them until they're comfortable with your presence. Then you can begin to interact with them, but keep things slow and steady. Short positive interactions are the way to go. When you get to the point where they no longer run for cover at the mere sight of you, you can try to begin hand/tong feeding them their favourite foods. Next, you may leave your hand either palm down resting on the substrate or as a fist. Sometimes they may approach your hand and investigate. Sometimes they may even climb onto your hand. This is a good sign. If you've gotten this far, you can try to approach them, ever so slowly, and stroke them. Observe their reaction to your touch. Do they flinch or do they remain still? Remember, short positive interactions. Always end things on a good note. Eventually you might be able to get them used to your touch. Mine appear to even like it when they're in the midst of shedding.

    Once they figure out you're not food and you're not a threat, they can be highly interactive animals. It's unlikely that they'll ever be as laid-back as a blue tongue or bearded dragon however.
     
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  8. Tinyroar

    Tinyroar New Member

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    Thought I would do a quick update - and thank you everyone for the advice.

    I’m still yet to spot them all out at once but have seen 2 out together.

    I haven’t handled them at all and am just giving them space. Today I was able to change their water with one of the sitting on the log next to the bowl and he DIDN’T skitter for cover this time!!!

    I’ve been just sitting next to them with the door open for smell and such and yeah.. slow progress but progress none the less!!

    I was also able to take a photo of him today without him dealing out too :) IMG_2149.JPG


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  9. dragonlover1

    dragonlover1 Subscriber Subscriber

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    small steps lead to a great future
     
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  10. RoryBreaker

    RoryBreaker Well-Known Member

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    King's Skink have similar husbandry but have waaaay bigger acorns. :)
    Kings are the only skink that i have kept which stood their ground and attacked my hand when removing their young. Cunningham's with their default programming are always set for flight.

    Cunningham's have a tendency to be lazy and this is the opportunity to get them to be less flighty. Have their enclosure in a high traffic area, they eventually work it out that they don't have to move off the basking area every time someone walks by. As others have said, feeding items with tongs will eventually get results, but will take time.
     
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  11. Tinyroar

    Tinyroar New Member

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    Really appreciate all the advice. Was able tong feed some mealworms to one of them today.
    Still worried about the ones in the log, I wanna get them out of there so I can check on them - but just being patient still lol

    Happy with the progress and I’ll will keep you all posted.
     
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  12. Nero Egernia

    Nero Egernia Subscriber Subscriber

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    I can agree with you there. :) Some wild populations are incredibly bold, but some can equally be the exact opposite and are painfully shy.

    Can't comment on Cunningham's but my pair are pretty chill and lazy as far as King's Skinks go. They readily tong/hand feed and sometimes don't mind a little scratch when they're in the midst of shedding either. Sometimes I have to nudge them off their basking rocks when I'm trying to spot clean whatever mess they did on them. They're originally wild caught too. The only thing I really did was locate them in a high traffic area and practically ignored them for the first year or so, besides the usual upkeep of course. I just go in as though it's part of everyday life with minimum fuss. Just the past few weeks they've been fastidiously mating out in the open. Didn't even bat an eyelid while I walked by or was doing some sort of activity, or when they had an audience either. That being said, while they tolerate touch rather well, they hate being picked up, grabbed, or being rooted out of their dens/hides.
     
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  13. Tinyroar

    Tinyroar New Member

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    Success!!!! Thank you thank you everyone!!!! All three of my little dudes out and about today!! Mealworm feeding and patience worked a treat!! Now I have to be careful because one of them tries to run at me every time he see me even :D you are all amazing and thank you again! [​IMG]


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