For your convenience, we have put together a list of supplies that ReptiFiles personally recommends for the health of your new pet sandfish, as well as your own peace of mind. In other words, we did the shopping for you! Just click the link for every category.
This list contains affiliate links. For more information, read our Affiliate Disclosure.
- 20 gallon “long” tank with lid (30″x12″x12″)
- 24” Arcadia Desert 12% UVB bulb and fixture
- 100w Zoo Med Repti Basking Spot heat bulb (required wattage may vary)
- Zoo Med Dimmable Clamp Lamp
- Zilla 24/7 Digital Power Center
- Etekcity 774 infrared thermometer
- Zoo Med ReptiSand in Natural Red (40 lbs)
- Exo Terra Water Bowl, medium
- Enrichment items:
- Miner-ALL Outdoor calcium supplement
- Repashy SuperVite multivitamin supplement
- Live insects, appropriately sized
Approximate minimum investment before you buy the sandfish or insects: $345
Keep in mind that these supplies should be purchased and set up BEFORE you bring home the sandfish. This will save you a lot of stress, and does your new pet a big favor, too.
We also recommend finding an ARAV-certified reptile veterinarian in your area. It’s always better to do a little bit of research when nothing’s wrong than to find yourself in a panic when your pet gets sick. Start here: Finding the Reptile Vet of Your Dreams.
How to Select and Buy a Pet Sandfish
Your average pet sandfish in the US costs around $40.
The Eastern Sandfish (S. mitranus) and Common Sandfish (S. scincus) are most commonly found in pet stores. These animals are generally wild-caught specimens, as they are not yet commonly bred in captivity. However, as we come to understand sandfish care better, more captive-bred sandfish will become available.
We at ReptiFiles advise buying directly from a breeder if possible. If not possible, look to adopt a sandfish from a rescue or someone who has lost interest and is selling theirs. Wild-caught sandfish are likely to carry a higher parasite load than captive-bred animals, and are thus less likely to thrive as pets. It is also best to buy a sandfish at least 4” long, as older skinks are more likely to survive the stress of transitioning to a new home than younger ones.
If you are buying a sandfish in-person, you are most likely at a pet store or reptile expo. In this setting, try to get a look at the
animal up close, so you can gauge its overall health:
- Is it alert, watching you and its surroundings?
- Do the spine or hip bones seem to protrude? (bad)
- Does the body seem sunken at all? (bad)
- Are the eyes clear and open?
- Are the arm and leg bones straight?
- Are the tail or toes blackened at all? (bad)
- Does it seem clumsy? (bad)
- If removed from the sand, will it immediately try to dig back under?
- Does it try to wriggle free if held?
If you’re at a pet store, look at the enclosure:
- Is there plenty of deep sand for substrate?
- Is there both a heat source and UVB?
- Is the enclosure clean?
- If there’s glass, is that clean? Clean enclosures usually mean an animal is well cared-for.
Buying from a Breeder
Whenever possible, buy from a small breeder who specializes in sandfish skinks, not a big-box reptile distributor (Underground Reptiles, Backwater Reptiles, BHB Reptiles, etc.). The narrower their focus, the more likely you are to receive a healthy, high quality animal. Some questions to ask yourself as you evaluate the breeder:
- Do they provide plenty of information in the listings for each available animal?
- Do they offer a live-arrival guarantee?
- Do they offer a health guarantee?
- Do they have a DOA (dead-on-arrival) policy?
- Do they have a good reputation in the reptile community?
Some questions to ask about the sandfish:
- Does s/he have a good appetite?
- When was the last time it ate, and how much?
- Have they had any past health issues?
- Did the mother/father have any recurring health issues?
- (If female) Has she ever been with a male?
Of course, buying directly from a breeder often means that you have to pay more, but it’s worth the extra money. Also, buying online means that you will have to pay for overnight shipping — in the US, that’s usually around $50.
- Introduction to Sandfish
- Sandfish (Scincus) Species
- Shopping List (YOU ARE HERE)
- Enclosure Size & Cohabitation
- Lighting, Temperature & Humidity Needs
- Substrate Options
- Environmental Enrichment: Decorating the Enclosure
- Feeding Your Sandfish
- Handling Tips & Behavioral Notes
- Health Information
- Additional Resources