Fire Skink Care

Description: Fire Skinks are medium sized, ground-dwelling lizards belonging to the family Scincidae. Fire skinks, like many other skinks are smooth-bodied and possess short, powerful limbs that allow them to move easily through the leaf litter, bark and dirt that make up the forest floor which is their home. Another notable feature of L. fernandi is their striking coloration. Red and black stripes mark the sides, their backs are colored bronze with an iridescent sheen and their stomachs have white and black pinstripes! Personally, I find these animals to be one of the most beautiful available in the hobby.

Typically Fire skinks grow to be a little over 12” in length, with the majority of that being in their tail. It is important to note that Fire Skinks can drop their tails if they feel threatened, so care should be taken never to grasp them by the tail when handling them. 

Native Range: L. fernandi has a wide range, and inhabits the tropical forests of central Africa.

Life Span: It is not known for certain, but Fire Skinks are thought to live between 15 and 20 years in captivity.

Diet: Fire Skinks are obligate insectivores, meaning that their diet consists solely of insects. Any of the insect feeders at our store will be readily taken. To keep your skink happy and healthy, offer it a variety of insect feeders, and dust them occasionally with a calcium and mineral supplement.

Housing: This is a species that definitely benefits from having lots of space. At a minimum, a tank measuring 36″ L x 18″ W x 16″ H (otherwise known as a “40 gallon breeder tank” in the hobby) is required.

Because they like to burrow, your cage should have at least 4” of substrate that will hold a good amount of humidity (your substrate should feel moist to the touch, but crumble if you try to make a ball out of it with your hands), but the deeper the better. It’s important that the substrate remain moist in order to facilitate proper shedding and to avoid respiratory issues. You should also furnish your enclosure with an abundance of hides in the form of flat pieces of bark, live/fake plants, stones and/or leaf litter. It may sound paradoxical, but the more hiding space you give your skink, the more likely you will see it out and about.

Temperature and Lighting: Fire skinks are not known to require UV light to metabolize calcium, but most animals benefit from it so it is worth considering. If you choose not to provide UV for your skink, then it would be wise to provide them with a calcium supplement that includes D3. Whatever light you choose, you it should afford your skink with a basking spot that reaches 95 degrees F (35 degrees C), and a heat gradient that does not fall below 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) on the cool side of the enclosure. 

Additional Notes: I personally find this species to be a very rewarding pet if given a large enclosure to roam, with lots of hiding spaces and deep substrate to explore. With a little bit of patience they can be tolerant of handling. They are very eager eaters, and this will afford you with the key to their heart. Tong or hand feeding will  get them used to your presence, and from there you can coax them onto your hand for short, positive handling experiences. By gradually building trust in this way you should be able to handle them on a regular basis. In addition, when provided with a stimulating environment, they exhibit many interesting behaviors that are fun to observe.

Useful Products:
-Zilla Critter Cage 40 BR
-Exo Terra Plantation Soil
-Zoo Med Cork Bark
-Exo Terra Equatorial Forest Floor
-Exo Terra Medium Water Dish
-Exo Terra Jungle Plants
-Exo Terra 150 W Daylight Basking Spot Bulb
-Exo Terra 18 cm Light Dome

by Andrew Cumming