We have heard all kinds of stories:

Stories of pet-crazed people visiting the pet store with a creature in mind and then turning out with something completely unplanned!

The more stories that we hear like, the more it gets reaffirmed that no one (yes NO ONE) can resist an African fire skink!! That appearance that can set your heart on fire!

Here is why an African fire skink can be your best choice for a pet:

  • It is easy to handle for a beginner as well as an intermediate keeper
  • It is a myth that it is too shy. The reptile is an active creature if housed properly
  • Full of personality and hardy
  • Safe with children around

A couple of seasons ago, there was an acute shortage for this skink. We looked at expos and went hunting on the internet to check if any pet store or online breeder had any stock left but came back with a frown each time.

We hear that things have changed now. Skinks are relatively common at exhibitions but come with a hefty price tag.

Captive skinks are trusted more than the ones that are caught wild. Captive breeders breed in small batches and the best time to start seeking them in late summer into much of fall.

The captive-bred skinks are considered healthier compared to their wild counterpart. They carry lesser parasites on them, and they have a much better temperament.

Geographical range

The African skinks were initially discovered in western Africa. Since them, they have been removed and inhabit New Guinea, Angola, and Kenya where they are found in

  • Forests
  • Woods
  • Heavy, lush areas

Appearance

They have a striking vibrant color. These giant bodied lizards look typically like the skink with long broad bodies, short legs, and very thick tails. They are bright red with bronze-colored specks on their back and black and white bars that run across their sides.

Size and life span

Hatchlings, when they emerge from their eggs, are only 2 inches long. Within a year or two, they grow into an adult size with a length of 15 inches on average. Females of the species are smaller relatively than the males.

There is no documentary proof, but empirically skinks are believed to live up to 20 years.

Caging

Skinks love to use all the space that you will allocate to them. A single skink will need at least 20 gallons capacity of a terrarium. The only condition is that the terrarium must be tall instead of being too wide. Skinks love to climb, and you will mostly find them basking high up on any of the branches in the enclosure.

If you are into breeding, then you may house a pair of skinks, one male, and one female. Skinks are not territorial, and they may not bully each on food and space. A male and female will behave well as mating partners. You will need 40 gallons for housing, the two of them.

If you see anyone of them being aggressive or physical injury marks, consider separating them. No, you may not keep more than one pair in one enclosure! Thank you for your attention!!

Keep as many lizard accessories to keep them safe, secured, and occupied

  • Tall plants with sturdy branches
  • Hiding place
  • Log place

Heating

These tropical lizards need heating. Ambient day time temperature can range from 80 – 84 F and night time from 65 to 70F. The lizards need a basking spot, and the temperature over it can range between 90 and 100F.

You must use a thermostat to see and regulate temperature. Use a heating pad on the sides or a dome light instead of a ceramic vapor light. Do not keep any source of direct heat in the enclosure as there is a big chance that curiosity will get better of these lizards and they will burn their skins.

Light

UV-A light is a necessity. A 40 watt bulb will do the trick. There is no need for a UV –B light source if you feed your pet with calcium and vitamin dusted insects.

Set up a day and night cycle of 12 hours and in cooler seasons, the photoperiod can be set to about 8 to 10 hours.

Humidity

These skinks need 60 to 70 percent of humidity. You may permanently use the hygrometer to keep a tab on the moisture. 40% of the substrate should be permanently moist. Misting is recommended two times in a day with a spray bottle filled with filtered water. Once in the morning and second in the evening.

Here is a list of all the substrates that would form a great place for the skinks to roam about:

  • Cypress mulch
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Soil that is not fertilised
  • Litter form the garden
  • Moss as a thick 4 inch

It is essential that the substrate does not become too dry because then there is a danger of

  • Impaction
  • Poor shedding when the times comes
  • Respiratory disease

Diet

African fire skinks are opportunist feeders. They can eat anything under the sun and the moon. Their most favorite food is live reptiles which are

  • Crickets
  • Mealworms
  • Butterworts
  • Silkworms
  • Waxworms etc.

Once in a month you can feed pinkie mice too, use calcium supplement once every three days.

Water

Even though water is not useful for them per se, the absence of water can cause a lot of complications. Set a shallow water dish and don’t forget to mist two times in a day.

Handling

We hope that we have shattered the mood. They are not shy sand reclusive; Infact, they are so good that they can remain active all the time.

They tolerate human handling well and soon will love to hang around them. They are docile and fast and extremely squirmy. Make sure that they are handled well and do it only when you know that there is no chance to escape!

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