You've seen plenty of unlikely animal companion pairs on the internet - dogs and sheep, dogs and birds, dogs and cats. But can the unlikely animal companionship extend as far as doggos and reptiles? We're here to explore whether your furry pooch and a scaly skink can live together in animal harmony.
A skink is a smooth-bodied lizard that has either very short limbs or no limbs at all! They like to burrow in the sand and typically live in tropical regions. Is it possible that your dog can get along with a skink? To be blunt, it's unlikely.
Reptiles aren't usually pack creatures like dogs are, and they're hardly ever social. Additionally, skinks, and other reptiles, carry certain diseases that could be harmful to your doggo if they get a little too close (think salmonella and other harmful bacteria).
In fact, keeping these animals around each other could be dangerous for both. Dogs, being predatory animals, might mistake the skink for prey, and the reptile might inadvertently harm your pooch with bacteria. Read on to find out more!
Signs Your Dog Has Contracted Something from your Skink
Like we said above, it would be super sweet if your skink and your pup could get along (at the very least, that's something that could go viral on the internet). Unfortunately, though, keeping these two animals around each other might not be the best idea. It's possible that you can have them under the same roof, but it's best to keep them separate.
Reptiles, like skinks, carry salmonella in their intestinal tracts and shed the bacteria into their stool. If your dog happens to ingest this bacteria, it can cause serious gastrointestinal upsets and potentially blood infections (sepsis).
If your dog picks up any of this bacteria, there will be definite signs. For example, if your dog has contracted salmonella from your skink's bacteria, they'll start to act a bit differently. Firstly, they'll likely vomit, have very little interest in eating, probably lose weight, and also have intense bouts of diarrhea.
Salmonella also provokes severe dehydration in dogs, so they'll probably be exceptionally thirsty and weak. If your dog has a blood infection from your reptile, it's likely that they'll go into shock. This can include seizures, a coma, body freezing, and unconsciousness.
Dogs and Reptiles Throughout History
Dogs are curious creatures who, despite being domesticated, are driven by instinct. Because they have a natural desire to hunt, they're likely to mistake small reptiles, like snakes, lizards, and yes, even skinks, for their prey.
Keeping skinks, or other reptiles, as pets, has been a fairly recent development, especially when compared to how long people have been keeping dogs as pets. Skinks are easy animals to care for because, unlike dogs, they require very little social interaction. Dogs, on the other hand, require a lot of attention.
Though companion animals through and through, dogs might find it difficult to bond with lizards, and it might be dangerous for you to force a relationship. Historically, dogs get very sick when living with reptiles because of the strains of bacteria they carry.
Science Behind Dogs Living with Skinks
Prey drive is an instinctual reflex built into your dog. No matter how cuddly, sweet, and cute your pup is, they still are subject to intrinsic behaviors like hunting for food.
In the wild, a reptile would be the perfect meal for a dog because they're smaller and easy to catch and kill. Considering a dog's proclivity to eating smaller creatures in the wild, it's possible that keeping a dog and a skink in the same house, let alone in the same room, could result in someone getting munched.
There's not much research on the web to support dog and skink relationships, and little data is available on how they get along in captivity. However, taking into account the potential harm to each animal, it's likely best to not let the two mingle or interact.
Training your Skink and Dog to Coexist
Right off the bat, we don't recommend letting these two animals mingle. It's certainly possible to own both animals under the same roof, but you'll likely want to keep them away from each other.
To start, make sure your dog can't get to your skink's habitat. If they have access to where the reptile lives and eats, they'll likely have access to its waste, which is where your dog can contract diseases.
Next, ensure that you have a dog-proof cage for your skink. You don't want your pup to accidentally gain access to your reptile's cage and try to eat them.
Ensure that all family members, house guests, and friends know that the two animals are not to mingle, either. The last thing you want is a visitor introducing your two pets and throwing both of them off guard. Always make sure your dog abides by basic commands like "no," "stay," and "leave it." These commands could save your skink's life!
By a Great Dane lover Hanna Marcus
Published: 03/18/2018, edited: 04/06/2020