I like skinks, I find them interesting. The problem is, so does my cat and most other cats.
And while my intention is to get a good look at a lizard doing what lizards do. A cat’s motivation is to play the hunter and get a hold of them.
If you know there are skinks in your area, the responsible thing to do is to find out if skinks are poisonous to cats or present any kind of danger if caught or eaten.
The good news is that skinks are not venomous. So, being bitten by one might hurt a little, but that’s the extent of the danger. They do not excrete any toxic substances like some reptiles and amphibians either.
There are some risks associated with eating skinks as I’ll explain in more detail in this article. But, as far as a short and quick answer goes – skinks are not poisonous to cats, no.
What Are Skinks?
The world of reptiles can get a little confusing at times as there are more than 10,000 known species of reptiles. Even just looking at skinks there are more than 1,500 species all with small differences.
Skinks are lizards, unlike salamanders and frogs (read this if you want to know if cats eat frogs and toads), which are amphibians. They look very similar to salamanders, newts, and a bunch of other small reptiles, and are often confused at first sight.
Some of the most common species of skink that you may have heard of include;
- Blue-tailed skinks
- Coal skinks
- Slender skinks
- Snake-eyed skinks
- Blue-tongued skinks
A lot of these are kept as pets as they’re easy to care for and fun to watch and interact with. If you see them in the wild they don’t present any danger to you or your pets. They’re quick to run away and hide, so it’s unlikely you’ll get close enough to touch them.
What Happens If a Cat Eats a Skink?
Some cats will eat skinks, or they might eat their tails after they’ve shed them to run away. I’ve spoken about this with a few cat owners that say their cats have eaten skinks or parts of a skink and their cat’s reactions varied.
Not surprisingly, it can cause an upset stomach for some kitties. It’s not an ideal snack, and while there are no toxins or poison on their skin to worry about, lizards, in general, are well-known for carrying parasites.
If your cat is showing symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, retching, loss of appetite, excessive drooling, and generally being unwell or uncomfortable after eating a skink you need to get them checked out.
A vet will be able to test a stool sample for parasites that are likely causing problems. From there, they can prescribe the appropriate course of treatment.
Skink Bite Treatment for Cats
Honestly, it’s very unlikely your cat will be bitten by a skink. Even if they are, their mouths and teeth are so small it’s hard for them to break the skin through their fur.
If your cat has been bitten by a small lizard and it looks bad, it’s more likely that it was some other type of lizard. It’s difficult to know what they were bitten by exactly unless you get a clear look and can identify the offending creature.
Some Skink-Related FAQs
Are Blue-Tailed Skinks Poisonous to Cats?
Blue-tailed skinks are one of the most popular species of skink. They are commonly kept as pets, are a lot of fun to watch and interact with, and are commonly found across the US.
They’re also called a five-lined skink if you’ve heard that name. That’s because they have five lines running the length of their bodies. With a striking orange/yellow color leading into a bright blue on their tails.
As far as reptiles go, they are striking looking creatures, aren’t they? Which is part of the appeal for cats that will give chase if they see them scurrying across the floor.
The good news is that Blue-tailed skinks are not poisonous or toxic to cats. If your cat tries eating or playing with one, they are capable of shedding their tail as a distraction. They can bite, but don’t possess any venom so they won’t poison your kitty.
I have read reports of cats getting sick from eating skinks, however. The facts were not clear, and I suspect it was due to the cat digesting harmful parasites along with the skink.
The same risks apply when cats eat salamanders. There is a risk of digesting liver flukes, which are parasitic worms that work their way into the bile ducts in the liver, and from there grow and cause some serious health issues.
Are Coal Skinks Poisonous to Cats?
I’ve encountered coal skinks on a couple of occasions. They’re fast little lizards, and in my experience, they take off when approached.
I’d heard that they are potentially poisonous to humans and pets, I’d even read an account from an owner that his dog was bitten and injured by a coal skink. But, according to the Amphibians and Reptiles of North Carolina site, coal skinks are not poisonous, venomous, or harmful in any way.
That’s a trustworthy source, so it’s more likely that the dog owner misidentified what it was that bit and hurt his dog. Which is easily done as there are so many different types of lizard, and they move incredibly fast.
Is The Western Skink Poisonous to Cats?
Another species of skink that you may come across on the Pacific Coast is The Western Skink. These can be distinguished from other skinks by their broad black or brown band running down the side of their body.
Despite hearing that some people think these are dangerous, there is no evidence to back this up. Wikipedia says that they are harmless. They have the same defensive mechanism as other skinks when threatened they will shed their tail to help them escape.