The Skinks fight in the Botanic Gardens

Laura Stace

They don’t wear short skirts, or put on lots of makeup, but one skink had to be separated from the group after biting another’s foot.

A far departure from the word ‘skank,’ skinks are vegetarian lizards from the Solomon Islands and five of them call the CSUN Botanic Gardens home.

Frodo, Pippin, Merri and Sam once belonged to CSUN’s College of Science and Mathematics Associate Dean Robert Espinoza.

Espinoza said he acquired the lizards when studying the evolution of their diet.’ ‘ ‘

‘They used to eat bugs and lizards, but now they are vegetarian,’ said Espinoza.

Espinoza said when he went on sabbatical last year he asked the manager of the Botanic Gardens, Brenda Kanno, if she could baby-sit the skinks.

Kanno said at the Botanic Gardens they have many suitable plants to feed the skinks and she often lets them indulge on their favorite food, bananas.

About a year into caring for the skinks, Kanno said she got quite a surprise.

‘One morning there were three adults and the next thing I saw was a little baby sitting there,’ said Kanno.

When Espinoza returned from sabbatical he decided to leave his pets in Kanno’s care for people to enjoy when visiting the gardens.

Espinoza said he visits the skinks a couple of times a semester.

While Espinoza said skinks generally live well together in small groups, one skink, Sam, couldn’t resist starting fights with his fellow lizards.

After living in exile since the foot-biting incident, Sam may be moving.

  1. Espinoza recently relocated to a larger office and said there may be room for one skink, but only if Sam behaves himself.