The True Fire Skink has to be one of the most beautiful species of lizards with their vivid red colouration. They become very tame and have an inquisitive nature, especially when it is feeding time.
|Environment||Tropical forests and damp savannas|
|Adult Size||Up to 30cm|
|Lifespan||Up to 20 years|
The True Fire skink is a stout, square bodied skink with short limbs. The dorsal (back) and head is a golden brown merging into a fire red colouration that runs along the body. Black and white bands run horizontally giving a distinctive pattern within the vivid red colour. The tail has a mixture of colour; it is mainly black with lighter scales running the length of the tail giving a stripe appearance. The limbs are black, the underbelly is pale with grey striping under the chin and throat.
They are a reasonably sized skink reaching a maximum length of 38cm (15 inches), however, most average between 20-30cm (8-12 inches). Both sexes look very similar, the only difference, males tend to be bulkier in appearance, have a wider neck and a flat head. True Fire Skinks are relatively docile and calm lizards, frequently coming out from their resting place to be hand-fed.
There are three known species of Fire Skinks, all from slightly different areas of Africa.
The True Fire Skink that is seen within the pet trade are normally collected from Nigeria and Ghana. They live in tropical forests and damp savannas, generally burrowing amongst floor leaf litter and hiding under debris.
We would recommend a minimum enclosure size of 3ft to allow space for the skinks to roam, this can be either a wooden vivarium or a glass terrarium. The use of a 5% forest UVB lighting is recommended due to the skink being diurnal (active during the day). This can be achieved with a T8 or T5 lighting, a reflector will help direct the UVB rays down towards your animal.
The enclosure can be heated with the use of a basking bulb; during the day a basking area of 33-35.5C (92-96F) should be provided with an ambient temperature of 28.5-30C (84-86F). A night time drop is recommended to around 21C (70F), however, True Fire Skinks seem to tolerate lower temperature down to 18.5C (65F). This can be maintained with the use of a heat mat. All heating elements should be connected to a thermostat to prevent accidental overheating.
The flooring of the enclosure needs to allow the skinks to burrow, we would recommend a soil substrate, orchid bark and leaf litter mix. They do require a slightly damp substrate, but this must not be waterlogged nor too dry and dusty as this can cause eye and shedding problems. You ideally require the bottom layer to be moist at around 60-70% humidity, the surface layer can drop down to 40%, regular misting we help maintain this. Another good way to prevent any shedding problems is to have a humidity hide with damp moss within the enclosure.
In the wild these skinks are quite secretive and will often hide within fallen logs and branches, reptile caves and skulls make a great retreat. Although a ground-dwelling species, they are good climbers, therefore provide some branches to help keep them active.
Feeding is very easy as they have a great appetite; a range of insects can be offered along with the odd pinkie mouse. Ensure you use a good vitamin and mineral supplement once a week, calcium can be added on all other feeds. Chopped up fruits and meal replacement powders can also be offered. Provided a shallow water dish and replace the water every few days or when soiled.