Fire skinks: care, diet, and habitat

Fire skinks

What are fire skinks?

Fire skinks, also known by their scientific name Lepidothyris fernandi, are a species of small lizards that belong to the Scincidae family. They are native to West Africa and are named for their vibrant red-orange coloration, which resembles flames.

Physical appearance

The fire skink is a small lizard, typically growing to a length of about 10-12 inches. They have a cylindrical body and short legs, allowing them to move quickly and navigate through tight spaces. Their scales are smooth and shiny, and their coloration consists of a bright red or orange body with black bands running along their back and sides.

One interesting feature of fire skinks is that their tails are bright blue, which is a contrast to their fiery body coloration. This bright tail color is believed to serve as a distraction for predators.


Fire skinks are generally docile and are not aggressive towards humans. However, they can be quite skittish and may try to hide or flee when approached. When threatened, they can also emit an unpleasant scent or shed their tail as a defense mechanism.

These skinks are primarily ground-dwellers but are also capable climbers. They are adept at burrowing and can create complex underground tunnels for shelter and foraging. Fire skinks are also known to be territorial, especially males, and may exhibit displays of dominance towards other individuals.

Overall, fire skinks are fascinating lizards with their striking coloration and unique behavior. They make an interesting pet for reptile enthusiasts who are knowledgeable about their care requirements.

Appearance and Behavior

Appearance and Behavior

Fire skinks have smooth, shiny scales that provide them with protection from predators. They also have a distinctive pattern of black stripes running along their back and tail, giving them a unique appearance. The stripes serve as a form of camouflage, allowing the skinks to blend in with their surroundings in the wild.

In terms of behavior, fire skinks are primarily terrestrial. They spend most of their time on the ground, using their strong legs to move around and explore their environment. They are also skilled burrowers and can dig tunnels to hide and seek shelter. Fire skinks are diurnal, which means that they are active during the day and sleep at night.

These skinks are generally docile and shy, but they can become aggressive if they feel threatened or cornered. When threatened, they may puff up their bodies, open their mouth wide, and display their bright underbelly as a warning to potential predators. Fire skinks are not venomous, and their primary defense mechanism is their ability to flee quickly.

Overall, fire skinks are fascinating creatures with their vibrant appearance and unique behavior. They can make excellent pets for reptile enthusiasts who are willing to provide them with the appropriate care and habitat.

Caring for Fire Skinks

Fire skinks are fascinating reptiles that require proper care and attention to thrive in captivity. Here are some important guidelines on how to care for fire skinks:

Enclosure Setup

Temperature and Humidity

Fire skinks are tropical reptiles, so it’s vital to maintain appropriate temperature and humidity levels. The temperature gradient in the enclosure should range from 80-90°F (27-32°C) on the warm side, and 70-75°F (21-24°C) on the cool side. You can achieve this by using heat lamps, ceramic heat emitters, or under-tank heaters. Humidity levels should be kept around 60-70% to ensure proper shedding and hydration.


Proper nutrition is crucial for the health of fire skinks. Their diet mainly consists of insects, including crickets, mealworms, and dubia roaches. Make sure to gut-load and dust the insects with calcium and vitamin supplements before feeding them to your skinks. Occasionally, you can offer small amounts of fruits and vegetables as a treat.

Feeding Schedule

Fire skinks should be fed every 1-2 days, depending on their age and size. Juveniles require more frequent feedings, while adults can be fed less often. It’s best to offer them small amounts of food at each feeding, and remove any uneaten food after a few hours to maintain cleanliness in the enclosure. Fresh water should also be available at all times.

Remember to monitor your skink’s weight and adjust their feeding schedule accordingly to prevent obesity or malnutrition.

By providing a suitable enclosure, maintaining proper temperature and humidity levels, offering a balanced diet, and adhering to a feeding schedule, you can ensure the well-being and longevity of your fire skinks.

Enclosure setup for fire skinks

The substrate is an essential element in the enclosure setup. Fire skinks prefer a substrate that retains moisture well, such as coconut fiber or cypress mulch. This helps to maintain the humidity levels required for their well-being. It is recommended to provide a layer of substrate that is at least 2-3 inches deep to allow the skinks to burrow and hide.

Decorations can also be added to the enclosure to provide hiding spots and enrichment for the skinks. Cork bark tubes, rock caves, and branches can be placed strategically to create a more natural environment. These decorations should be secure and stable to prevent any accidents or injuries.

With the proper enclosure setup, fire skinks can thrive in captivity and display their natural behaviors. It is essential to regularly monitor the temperature, humidity, and cleanliness of the enclosure to ensure the well-being of these fascinating reptiles.

Temperature and Humidity for Fire Skinks

Skinks require specific temperature and humidity levels to thrive in captivity. It is essential to provide them with an environment that closely mimics their natural habitat to ensure their well-being.


The temperature inside the enclosure should be maintained between 75-85°F (24-29°C) during the day and can drop slightly to 70-75°F (21-24°C) at night. It is essential to provide a temperature gradient within the enclosure, which allows skinks to choose their preferred temperature. This can be achieved by placing a heat lamp or heating pad on one side of the enclosure, creating a warm area, while leaving the other side cooler.


Fire skinks require moderate to high humidity levels to support their health. The humidity should be maintained between 50-70%. To achieve this, the enclosure can be misted twice a day with water, and a shallow water dish can be provided for the skinks to soak in. It is crucial to monitor the humidity levels regularly with a hygrometer and make necessary adjustments.


Skinks, like other reptiles, require a light and dark cycle to regulate their internal clocks properly. It is recommended to provide 10-12 hours of light and 12-14 hours of darkness. This can be achieved by using a timer for the light source inside the enclosure.

By maintaining the ideal temperature and humidity levels, you can ensure a comfortable and healthy environment for your fire skinks.

Fire Skink Diet


The majority of a fire skink’s diet should consist of live insects. Suitable options include crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and roaches. These insects should be appropriately sized for the skink to prevent choking or digestive issues. It is recommended to gut-load the insects by feeding them nutrient-rich foods before offering them to the skink.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fire skinks also benefit from a variety of fruits and vegetables in their diet. Some suitable options include leafy greens (such as kale or collard greens), berries, melons, and squash. These should be offered in small, bite-sized pieces to make it easier for the skink to consume.

Insects Fruits and Vegetables Other
Crickets Kale Small vertebrates
Mealworms Berries Supplements
Waxworms Melons
Roaches Squash

Additionally, it is recommended to dust the skink’s food with a calcium supplement and a multivitamin powder to ensure they are receiving all necessary nutrients. This can be done a few times a week, following the instructions provided with the supplements.

Overall, providing a balanced diet consisting of live insects, fruits, vegetables, and appropriate supplements will help ensure the overall health and well-being of your fire skink.

What do fire skinks eat?

Fire skinks are omnivorous reptiles that have a varied diet consisting of both insects and plant matter. In the wild, they primarily feed on small invertebrates such as insects, spiders, and worms. They are also known to consume snails, slugs, and even small lizards if given the opportunity.

The staple food for fire skinks in captivity is insects. They can be fed a variety of insects such as crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and small roaches. These insects should be dusted with calcium and vitamin supplements to ensure that the skinks receive the necessary nutrients.

In addition to insects, fire skinks can also be offered a variety of fruits and vegetables. Some suitable options include finely chopped or pureed fruits like bananas, berries, melons, and mangoes. Leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, and dandelion greens can also be included in their diet.

Overall, providing a diverse diet consisting of insects, fruits, and vegetables is crucial for the health and well-being of fire skinks in captivity. By meeting their dietary needs, owners can help ensure that these vibrant reptiles thrive in their environment.

Feeding schedule for fire skinks

Feeding fire skinks requires careful consideration of their dietary needs. These skinks are insectivores, meaning they primarily feed on insects. It is essential to provide them with a varied and balanced diet to ensure their optimal health.

Types of food

Fire skinks have a preference for smaller insects, such as crickets, mealworms, and waxworms. These can be readily found at most pet stores or purchased online. In addition to insects, fire skinks can also be offered small portions of fruit, such as berries or chopped fruits like mango and banana. However, fruits should only make up a small part of their diet.

It is crucial to avoid feeding fire skinks with toxic insects such as ants, beetles, or spiders. These can harm your skink or even be fatal.

Frequency of feeding

Fire skinks should be fed twice a week. They are opportunistic feeders and have a high metabolic rate, so regular feeding is vital to meet their energy requirements. It is recommended to provide them with a proper-sized feeder dish containing a variety of insects. This allows the skinks to exhibit their natural hunting behaviors and ensures they receive a diverse range of nutrients.


Fire skinks also require access to clean water at all times. A shallow dish filled with clean, dechlorinated water should be placed in their enclosure and refreshed daily. The dish should be large enough for the skinks to submerge themselves partially if desired.


Additionally, fire skinks require a moderate temperature and high humidity environment. The temperature in their enclosure should range between 75-85°F (24-29°C) during the day, with a slight drop at night. They also need a humidity level of around 70-80%, which can be achieved by misting the enclosure regularly and providing a moist hide box for the skinks to retreat to.

Temperature Humidity Substrate
75-85°F (24-29°C) 70-80% Coconut fiber or cypress mulch

In terms of size, the enclosure should be spacious enough for the skinks to move around comfortably. A 20-gallon tank is a suitable choice for a pair of fire skinks.

Natural Habitat of Fire Skinks

Behavior in the Wild

These skinks are also quite territorial and will defend their territory from other fire skinks. Males will engage in territorial displays to establish dominance and attract mates. Fire skinks communicate with each other using a combination of visual displays, scent marking, and vocalization.

Fire skinks are omnivorous, feeding on a variety of invertebrates, such as insects, spiders, and worms, as well as plant matter, including fruits, flowers, and leaves. They are agile hunters and will actively forage for food in their natural habitat.