Emerald Tree Skink Fact File

Lamprolepis smaragdina

Credit: Public Domain








Wild 4 years

Captive 7 years




Conservation Status


Not Evaluated

Emerald tree skinks are named for the bright green scales which cover the body of most individuals though some olive and black scales are also present.

They are native to South-east Asia where they are found in the treetops hunting for invertebrates.

This species is among the skinks which practice autonomy, the process of shedding their tail in an attempt to evade predators.

Their survival is threatened by birds of prey and snakes which will hunt them.

Read on to learn more about these riveting reptiles.


What does the Emerald Tree Skink look like?

The emerald tree skink is among the most brightly colored reptiles with bold green scales covering the majority of the body. These are broken up by a series of black scales which are mainly present around the base of the tail where they may form lines and blotches. The underside tends to be lighter in color.

While their coloration appears bold when displayed on a neutral background it is the perfect camouflage among the treetops of the forests they inhabit.

Their scales are smooth and shine in the light.

Their body is long and thin tapering to a point at both the end of the tail and snout.

Each foot ends with small, thin toes each of which sport a small claw to help them move through the trees in their habitat.

An average emerald tree skink will measure 18-25cm (7.2-10in) long. Males and females can be distinguished as the male has a yellow base on the rear foot which is not present in the females.


What does the Emerald Tree Skink eat?

Emerald tree skinks are carnivores which primarily feed on insects. They have also been recorded to eat small amounts of fruit opportunistically. Observations have been made of them taking dog food in urban areas.

Emerald Tree Skink

Credit: Public Domain


Where can you find the Emerald Tree Skink?

Emerald tree skinks are residents of South-east Asia and a number of islands. Here they can be found in Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, Micronesia, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.


What kind of environment does the Emerald Tree Skink live in?

These animals are found in forests and mangrove swamps. They will make use of palm plantations.

Emerald tree skinks exhibit an ability to survive with little habitat with one population recorded from a small island with just four palm trees on it.

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How does the Emerald Tree Skink produce its young?

During summer the female will deposit clutches of between 9 and 14 eggs. The eggs are deposited under bits of loose bark.

These incubate for between 69 and 100 days before hatching.

The young grow quickly and are mature by 6 months old.


What does the Emerald Tree Skink do with its day?

These animals are highly successful climbers and much of their day is spent in the trees.

Males are territorial and will actively prevent the entry of other males to defend his mating rights with the females in his territory.

To communicate with other emerald tree skinks they will bob their head. This behavior is also engaged in by the male to court a female.

These animals are active during the day.

Emerald Tree Skink

Credit: Mark O'Shea, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What is impacting the survival of the Emerald Tree Skink?

Natural predators of this species include birds of prey and snakes.

As with many other species of skink this species has the ability to shed its tail. Once this is removed from the body it continues to move for a period of time and often this distracts a predator while the lizard escapes.

Quick facts

This species may also be known as the green tree skink or emerald green skink.

Emerald Tree Skink

Credit: Public Domain


Jackson, T. and Chinery, M., 2012. The illustrated encyclopedia of animals of the world. London: Southwater.

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

Bagaturov, M., 2021. Green Tree Skinks. [online] Geckosunlimited.com. Available at: <http://www.geckosunlimited.com/community/other-herps/42725-green-tree-skinks.html> [Accessed 19 September 2021].

Cyani Black. 2021. Species Profile: Emerald Tree Skink - Cyani Black. [online] Available at: <https://cyaniblack.com/2016/11/species-profile-emerald-tree-skink/> [Accessed 19 September 2021].

Reptiles Magazine. 2021. Emerald Tree Skink - Reptiles Magazine. [online] Available at: <https://www.reptilesmagazine.com/emerald-tree-skink/> [Accessed 19 September 2021].

Ecologyasia.com. 2021. Emerald Skink - Lamprolepis smaragdina. [online] Available at: <https://www.ecologyasia.com/verts/lizards/emerald-skink.htm> [Accessed 19 September 2021].

Underground Reptiles. 2021. Emerald Tree Skink Care Sheet - Underground Reptiles. [online] Available at: <https://undergroundreptiles.com/emerald-tree-skink-care-sheet/> [Accessed 19 September 2021].

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