This detailed, comprehensive guide on fire skink care will teach you about their enclosure, health, diet, behavior, and more!
The fire skink (Lepidothyris fernandi) is a large skink species of lizard belonging to the family Scincidae. It is commonly known as Togo fire skink or true fire skink. They are originated from West Africa, but they are found in several other areas Such as Angola West Guinea, And Kenya. They mostly inhabit Woodlands, heavily vegetated areas, and forests.
Fire Skink Availability
It is somewhat difficult to find fire skinks. They can be found at expos displaying reptiles and some major websites. There are only a few captive breeders that tend to carry out small breeding programs.
It is reported that the specimens in captivity live for around 15 to 20 years
Fire Skink Appearance
Fire skinks have large bodies with striking red bright colors having white and black specks present along the sides.
When emerging from the eggs, Hatchlings are approximately 2 inches in size, while the adults reach up to 14 to 15 inches in length. They do not grow rapidly and take almost a year to reach their mature size. Females are leaner and a little smaller than males.
Fire skinks have golden or bronze colored backs. They have a typical skink long square-shaped bodies along with thick tails and stout legs.
Fire Skink Terrarium Requirements
Terrariums and enclosures for fire skink care have some specific requirements in order to mimic their natural habitat.
A terrarium having a space of 40 to 50 gallons is ideal for a pair of fire skinks. As compared to the vertical space, horizontal space is more important.
Fire skinks are very good at climbing. For an adult skink, at least a 20 gallon tank is required with dimensions of 30*12*12 inches long, deep, and tall, respectively. It is best to use glass to make the best enclosures. Female and male skinks could be housed together as a mated pair. However, sometimes they can show territorial dominance for food. If fighting and injuries are not observed, it is OK to house them together.
Just be cautious if you are thinking to accommodate more than two skinks together. Also keep in mind not to house two males and two females in a single enclosure.
It is imperative to take care of light and temperature within the enclosure. Make sure to develop a hot and a cold end, maintaining the daytime temperature to be 84 to 86⁰F. The temperature of the basking spot should be maintained between 92 to 96⁰F. The temperatures at night are ideal, around 65 to 70⁰F.
To keep a check on the temperature within the enclosure, you can use a thermometer. On the warmer side of the enclosure, use under tank heater. Ceramic heat emitters are a good source of heat. Side-mounted heaters do well in case of large enclosures. Do not put a direct heat source into the enclosure.
UV exposure is essential for fire skinks. A day bulb of 40 Watt power provides the right amount of light. If the fire skinks are provided with foods rich in calcium, then they can survive without UVB light. A photoperiod of 10 to 12 hours is sufficient during summer and spring, while in the colder months, an 8 to 10 hours photoperiod is optimal.
Fire skinks should be provided with approximately 60 to 70% relative humidity with the substrate being moist always. These conditions can be monitored well by using a reptile hygrometer. A reptile mister can be used to keep the required range humidity levels, and misting is recommended twice daily.
Fire skinks are burrowing lizards, so it is critical to use a proper substrate. Coconut husk, sphagnum moss, and soil free of nutrients mixed can serve well as a substrate. It is helpful to use moss and leaf litter as a top layer. The substrate should be 4 to 6 inches in height. The substrate must always be moist. Too dry of a substrate can cause health-associated problems such as respiratory infections, poor skin shedding, and the risk of substrate ingestion. Never use sand as a substrate for the skink enclosures.
Plants and Decorations
These lizards are good climbers, so branches should be placed in their enclosures. It will increase the sense of security in them by creating an environment close to the natural one. A hide should also be added to the enclosure.
In addition to providing the hides, provide plants. As this lizard feels insecure in an open space, consider adding broad leafed artificial plants, shrubs, and bushes to give a natural feel and habitat to the skink. This will ultimately improve the pet’s activity levels.
Spot the dirty areas of the enclosure and clean them. To sift the substrate, scoops can be used. Wipe the cage every week to avoid the molds growing in the substrate. The substrate also needs to be replaced with a fresh substrate. A clean environment and water are vital to prevent infections such as mouth rot.
Is The Fire Skink The Best Pet Reptile?
Fire skins are thought to be very shy, which is not valid. If fire skinks feel secure in their surroundings, they will display a high amount of activity on the enclosure’s surface.
Fire skinks are usually docile and they tolerate handling very well. They become accustomed to handling and can easily be fed by hand. However, they are squirmy and fast. Make sure to handle the skinks in an area where there is no possibility of escape and the location is safe. Don’t grab the skink from the tail; it will be detached by doing so.
Fire Skink Health
Most of the fire skinks’ health issues appear as a result of improper diet, inadequate lighting, and providing insufficient humidity. Metabolic diseases can be best prevented by feeding proper meals supplemented with calcium. Unsanitary conditions could be the main contributors to infections related to bacteria and increase the risk of infections due to mites and ticks.
Fire Skink Food & Diet
Fire skinks are opportunistic feeders and like to have live reptile food and variations in their diet. Insects, snails, roaches, and spiders are the most part of their diet. Some fire skinks can also feed on fruits. Crickets serve as an excellent meal, or you can add worms such as butter worms, waxworms, silkworms, and mealworms into their diet.
Once a month, you can serve pinkie mice as a treat to the skinks. Five to six insects per three days should be fed to the fire skinks. At every third feeding, the meal should be dust with calcium as a supplement.
Fire Skink Behavior & Temperament
Their behavior is similar to other skinks as they also like to burrow. This gives them a safe feeling in hiding from their surroundings.
The skinks are protective in terms of their food. They are diurnal and are most active during the day time. They display aggression by making a puff at their throat and arch their back. Though they have a docile nature, even then, they can bite if provoked to do so.
Fire skinks are thought to be timid creatures that don’t feel comfortable in open environments. They are docile and don’t dislike being handled so they could be great pets to keep.
Suppose you want to keep the fire skink as a pet? In that case, you have to provide an enclosure environment really close to their natural habitat. Providing this type of fire skink care will result in your pet living happy.