Choosing a Sandfish Enclosure

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sandfish terrarium size requirements
Contributed by Mariah Healey

Sandfish are fossorial, which means that they spend most of their lives underground. As pets, this means that they are more likely to thrive in a horizontal enclosure with plenty of floor space.

How big?

According to my observations of lizard behavior, a terrestrial lizard enclosure should be no smaller than 6x2x2 SVL (or alternative dimensions with the same amount of floor space or greater) in order to facilitate optimal thermoregulation, accommodate appropriate horizontal and vertical movement, and allow for behavioral freedom of choice.

Given that Scincus scincus averages 3-4″ / 8-11cm SVL (Hayet et al., 2023), the minimum dimensions for one sandfish skink by these standards would be 24″L x 8″W x 8″H. These dimensions actually make appropriate setup of life support equipment somewhat prohibitive, so I have increased the minimum to 30”L x 12”W x 12”H / 75 x 30 x 30cm for reasons of practicality.

Bigger is always better when it comes to housing reptiles, and if you give them the space, they will definitely use it! Personally I prefer a 36”L x 18”W x 18”H / 90 x 45 x 45cm (40 gallon) enclosure as a more optimal size for one adult.

What kind of enclosure?

Sandfish are fairly simple to keep, so finding an appropriate enclosure for them is pretty easy. As long as it can hold at least
4” of sand without spilling and facilitates a hot basking area without turning the rest of the enclosure into an oven, it will be a good “house” for a sandfish.

We prefer using glass enclosures for sandfish, as these offer good ventilation, create excellent thermal gradients, and are readily

ReptiFiles recommends the following enclosures for sandfish skinks:

Can you house multiple sandfish together in one enclosure?

Possibly. Sandfish seem to get along well when housed together, but housing males together is discouraged, as they may fight
during breeding season, potentially injuring or even killing one of them. Males and females housed together will breed, and should not be done unless you are prepared to incubate the eggs, as breeding takes a heavy toll on females. If you wish to house multiple sandfish together, a colony of females should work out best. However, be prepared to separate them into individual enclosures if they don’t get along.

For housing multiple sandfish together, you will need to add at least 10 gallons (about 1 sq ft) of space per additional sandfish so they don’t feel crowded and get stressed out. The Zoo Med Low Boy terrarium may be a good choice for a small colony, but due to its proportions you will need to provide multiple basking spots and additional UVB coverage.