Lygosoma sundevallii

This small African burrowing skink Lygosoma sundevallii occurs from Northeastern Somalia to Angola. It lives in various habitats such as humid forests or dry areas.
It is thought to be crepuscular in the wild, but this rhythm can be modified in terrariums. Usually it can be found hidden under a few centimeters of soft soil, under rocks or decomposed wood.


This small lizard has an averaged size of 12 to 18 cm, males being bigger than females. Juveniles measure 30 mm from snout to the cloaca. Its background color is light grey with iridescent (like a rainbow) reflections. Furthermore, some individuals have small black ocelli on their scales.
The function of the limbs seems to be only facultative. Indeed, this species is “swimming » on the ground with the elbows up and undulating on its belly.

The terrarium

In order to satisfy its burrowing activity, the terrarium should have a thick layer of substrate. We use around 10 cm of a mix of sand and coco fibers. As hiding places, we put a few flat stones and oak cork tunnels.
For the environmental and health conditions, a classical heating lamp is needed (40W bulb) in addition to another one of lower energy (18W) for the UVB diffusion. Both lamps are on for about 12 hours per day. It provides a temperature that varies from 20 to 35°C between night and day with seasonal fluctuations due to our latitudes.


This species eats insects like the majority of lizards of this genus. Well-fed insects should be dusted with a mix of calcium and vitamins every two meal. Juveniles Lygosoma should immediately receive calcium in their food. Even though crickets constitute the “classical » and main food source in captivity, other insects such as locusts, flies and roaches or worms are suited for this skink.
Surprisingly, these skinks do not hesitate to attack preys that are much bigger than them! Indeed, in our terrarium they even hunt adult locusts (Schistocerca gregaria) that we use to feed the Fiji banded iguanas (Brachylophus fasciatus).


Similarly to other skinks, sex determination is not easy. Thereby, the 3 females and 2 males that we acquired are in fact 2 females and 3 males. However, only a few weeks after we bought these animals, one of the female, which was already gravid, laid 4 eggs. The eggshells are soft and fragile and should be unearth with caution. We incubate them in the classical “cricket box » on top of humid coco fiber. We incubated them at 27.5°C similarly than the eggs of chameleons. Surprisingly, 4 juveniles that were perfectly identical than their parents hatched only 43 days after the eggs were laid.


  • Spawls S. & al. A Field Guide To The Reptiles Of East Africa, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2004.