The African Fire Skink, also known as the Fire Skink, True Fire Skink, or Togo Fire Skink, is a relatively large skink categorized under the Scincidae family. This species is endemic to western Africa’s tropical forests and known for its vivid and bright coloration. Despite its striking colors, some hobbyists tend to avoid keeping this exotic pet under their care, believing that it is a difficult lizard to take care of. On the other hand, experienced reptile owners see the African Fire Skink as “too basic” or boring for them. If you want to know more about petting an African Fire Skin, make sure to read further!
Its scientific name, Mochlus fernandi, points to the island previously known as Fernando Po, which has been referred to as Bioko since 1979. This lizard species was categorized in various genera until it was finally discovered that M. fernandi is only limited to tropical Western Africa.
Not much has been delved into the status of African Fire Skinks in the wild. While African Fire Skinks are somewhat tricky to find, captive-bred young are said to be easily found from late summer until fall.
Characteristics of an African Fire Skink
Average life span: 15-20 years in captivity
Average height: 15 in including tail
The African Fire Skink has a striking color that makes it a wonderful sight to behold. Its body is bright red, marked with black and white bars on its sides. The scales on its back are either bronze or golden in color. This lizard has a long, squarish body with stout legs and a thick tail like other skinks. This species is sexually dimorphic—males are bulkier than females.
African Fire Skinks range in Africa is known to be as far as western Guinea, southern Angola, and eastern Kenya. They frequent a variety of habitats such as woodlands, forests, and densely vegetated areas. They are terrestrial skinks because they spend most of their time on the ground. Sometimes, they are found near lakes and ponds while their skin is shedding.
When it comes to their behavior, they are usually seen as shy lizards, but they can be active and full of personality when properly cared for.
Caring for an African Fire Skink
Since this reptile is endemic to tropical rainforests, you should design an enclosure similar to its natural habitat. Designing a house that resembles its habitat is not hard. You just have to make sure that the lizard has enough open space, artificial broad-leafed plants, bushes, and other accessories that will make the enclosure enjoyable to look at, as well as a conducive place for the skink to thrive in.
An ideal enclosure is around 40 to 50-gallon reptile terrarium. Horizontal space is more vital than vertical, but keep in mind that an African Fire Skink is an excellent climber. An adult skink can be put in a 20-gallon enclosure at the very least.
Providing adequate humidity and lighting for shedding and hydration is paramount in creating a favorable enclosure for your pet. The ambient daytime temperature should be around 84 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas the basking spot should reach a temperature between 92 to 96 degrees Fahrenheit. The ambient nighttime temperature should not fall below 65 degrees. It would be best if you keep a reptile thermometer to measure the temperature gradients in your pet’s habitat. You can also provide an under-tank heater on the warm end. Your African Fire Skink can also benefit from UVA exposure.
A well-fed skink looks full-bodied, not plump. In the wild, African Fire Skinks feed on both animal and plant matter. In captivity, they do not require plant matter. They can be fed a variety of insects such as mealworms, crickets, superworms, waxworms, and cockroaches, and canned dog food. They may also feed on pink mice too, but make sure to feed them with moderation. To make sure that your African Fire Skink remains healthy, provide it with calcium and vitamin D3 once or twice a week, as these supplements will help prevent metabolic bone problems. Even though an African Fire Skink does not usually drink water, you still need to provide a shallow dish of clean water in its enclosure, as this can maintain humidity, and once in a while, you may find your skink sitting on it.