The Fire Skink (Mochlus fernandi), also known as Fernand’s skink, the Togo fire skink, and the true fire skink, is a striking species of skink native to the tropical forests of West and Central Africa.
Known for its bright and vivid coloration, the Fire Skink is a popular choice among reptile enthusiasts. In this care sheet, we will provide essential information on how to properly care for Fire Skinks as pets.
Fire Skink Care Sheet
|Common Name:||Fire Skink|
|Scientific Name:||Mochlus fernandi|
|Size as Adult:||Up to 14 inches|
|Enclosure Size Requirements:||40-gallon tank or larger|
|Enclosure Temperature Requirements:||Basking area: 95°F; Cooler area: 75-85°F; Nighttime: 65-75°F|
Husbandry and Enclosure Requirements
To ensure the well-being of your Fire Skink, it’s essential to provide a suitable enclosure that meets their specific needs. A 40-gallon tank or larger is recommended to allow enough space for their activities and burrowing behaviors. The enclosure should be securely covered to prevent escapes.
Lighting is crucial for Fire Skinks. Provide a full-spectrum UVB light to simulate natural sunlight and promote proper calcium absorption. A basking area with a temperature of around 95°F should be provided, along with a cooler area on the opposite side of the enclosure ranging from 75-85°F. Maintaining proper temperatures is crucial for their overall health and digestion.
Fire Skinks thrive in a moderately high humidity environment. Aim for a humidity level of 60-80% by misting the enclosure regularly. Incorporating a moist hideout or substrate can help create a microclimate with higher humidity, which they can utilize for shedding.
Dietary Needs and Feeding Schedule
Fire Skinks are omnivorous, consuming a variety of both plant and animal matter. In the wild, they feed on insects, small mammals, mollusks, and even fruit. In captivity, their diet should consist mainly of insects such as crickets, mealworms, superworms, roaches, and waxworms. These should be offered every other day to ensure a balanced diet.
To enhance the nutritional value of feeder insects, it’s essential to gut-load them with high-quality insect food before feeding them to your Fire Skink. A commercial gut load cricket and insect food, such as Zilla Gut Load Cricket and Insect Food, can provide the necessary nutrients for the insects, which will then be passed on to your pet. Additionally, offering a small amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, such as chopped leafy greens or berries, can supplement their diet and provide enrichment.
It’s important to ensure that any food items offered to your Fire Skink are appropriately sized and easily digestible. Prey items should be no larger than the width of their head to prevent choking or digestive issues. Always provide fresh water in a shallow dish, ensuring it is changed regularly to maintain cleanliness.
Things to Consider
Taming and Handling
Fire Skinks, like many reptiles, are not typically keen on frequent handling. They are generally more inclined to observe their surroundings and burrow in their enclosure. While they may tolerate occasional handling, it’s crucial to approach them with care and gentleness. Regular and patient interaction can gradually help them become more accustomed to human presence.
Costs and Maintenance
Before acquiring a Fire Skink, it’s important to consider the costs associated with their care. This includes the initial setup cost for an appropriately sized enclosure, lighting, heating equipment, and other necessary accessories. Ongoing expenses include providing a varied diet, regular veterinary check-ups, and maintaining proper environmental conditions.
Comparison of Fire Skinks, Blue-Tongued Skinks, and Schneider Skinks
When comparing fire skinks to other species in the Scincidae family, their distinct characteristics and care requirements set them apart. Fire skinks are particularly known for their vivid coloration and unique patterns, making them visually striking reptiles.
In terms of care, fire skinks require slightly higher humidity levels compared to some other skink species. This means that providing adequate moisture in their enclosure is essential to create a suitable environment for them. It’s important to monitor and maintain the humidity levels within the recommended range to ensure their well-being.
On the other hand, blue-tongued skinks are notable for their defensive display, utilizing their blue tongues to deter predators. They are often regarded as more interactive and handleable than other skink species, making them a popular choice for reptile enthusiasts seeking a pet that can be easily interacted with and handled.
When it comes to availability, fire skinks and blue-tongued skinks are generally more readily available in the pet trade compared to Schneider skinks. Schneider skinks have limited availability due to the challenges associated with captive breeding. Therefore, if you are specifically interested in owning a fire skink, you may find it relatively easier to acquire one compared to a Schneider skink.
Fire Skink FAQs
Do fire skinks make good pets? Do they like to be handled?
Fire skinks can make excellent pets for reptile enthusiasts. While they may not be as interactive or handleable as some other species, they can still become accustomed to being handled with proper care and patience. It’s important to note that each individual skink has its own personality, and some may tolerate handling better than others. When handling fire skinks, it’s crucial to be gentle and avoid any sudden movements that could startle or stress them. Regular, gentle handling from a young age can help them become more comfortable with human interaction.
Are fire skinks easy to take care of?
Fire skinks are generally considered to be moderately easy to care for. They have specific requirements that need to be met to ensure their well-being, but with proper knowledge and attention, their care can be manageable. Fire skinks require a suitable enclosure with proper heating, lighting, and humidity levels. Their diet consists primarily of insects, so a variety of appropriately sized live insects should be provided. Regular monitoring of their environment, including temperature and humidity levels, is essential. Providing a suitable substrate, hiding spots, and a water dish for soaking completes their habitat. Overall, as long as their specific needs are met, fire skinks can thrive in captivity.
Are fire skinks nocturnal?
Fire skinks are primarily diurnal, meaning they are most active during the day. They tend to bask under heat sources and explore their environment during daylight hours. However, individual skinks may exhibit some crepuscular or nocturnal activity patterns, especially during periods of increased feeding or breeding. It’s important to provide a well-lit enclosure with a temperature gradient, allowing the skink to regulate its body temperature and engage in natural behaviors.
Do fire skinks drop their tails?
Like many other skink species, fire skinks have the ability to drop their tails as a defense mechanism, known as caudal autotomy. When threatened or attacked, they can detach their tails, which may continue to wiggle and distract the predator while the skink escapes. The dropped tail will regenerate over time, but the regrown tail may not be as vibrant or patterned as the original. While tail dropping is a natural behavior for skinks, it’s important to minimize stress and provide a secure and enriched environment to help reduce the likelihood of tail loss.
Can fire skinks eat vegetables?
Yes, fire skinks have an omnivorous diet and can consume certain vegetables. While insects form the main part of their diet, incorporating some vegetables can provide additional nutritional variety. It’s important to note that fire skinks are primarily insectivorous, so vegetables should not make up a significant portion of their diet.
When offering vegetables to fire skinks, it is essential to choose appropriate options that are safe and suitable for their digestive system. Some suitable vegetables for fire skinks include leafy greens like kale, collard greens, and dandelion greens. These vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals that can contribute to their overall health.
PetsWithScales.com is an informational website about big lizard pet care. We collect and provide information from different sources across the web on how to keep and care for reptiles as pets. The species we mainly deal with are tegus, monitor lizards, skinks and geckos. Our aim is to provide high quality information to help pet owners make better, more informed decisions about their animal’s diets, health and life.