Acquired: Worked with pet (didn’t own)
Pennsylvania, United States
Posted Jun 23, 2013
African fire skinks are among the easier of lizards to keep -- they are colourful, attractive and active. I took care of two in a zoo education department for about 6 years. They were a long term captive pair relocated from the reptile building to the education programme, but were more used as classroom display. As skinks go, they are more handleable than most -- they do not drop their tails easily, and they calm down quickly. However, they can bite painfully and tend to clamp down for a long time. They work better as a display animal, not a handled pet.
Fire skinks stay relatively small, topping out at about 10 inches snout to tail. A pair can be housed in a 20-gellon long aquarium with a simple screen top and a basking light at one end. Avoid heat rocks or heat tape, but instead install a basking light over a dark-coloured rock or log and turn it off at night. The ambient air temperature should always be at least 75F.
Substrate can be plastic turf, chemical-free bark/ mulch; we used sterilised leaf litter from autumn leaves over a newspaper liner. Hiding places are a must. A sturdy water bowl kept only half-full is best, and it must be changed daily or when soiled.
Our fire skinks subsisted very well on a small daily portion of produce (grapes, blueberries, leafy greens, apple, peach -- chopped finely, totaling about 1 tsp of food per skink) as well as a weekly feeding of large gut-loaded crickets (6-10 per skink). They will also eat mealworms, superworms, waxworms, and earthworms.
Fire skinks are forest floor animals and so that should be considered when designing their enclosure.