Fire Skink, Mochlus fernandi:

Size: Mine are 10" to 12", may reach 13.75". Heavy bodied with short legs.

Identifying markings: Bronze coloured back with vivid black and red sides. Throat and tail are dark with light pin-striping. Healthy specimens are quite striking. Hatchlings have black backs with bright red and gold markings and contrasting light blue rings around the tail.

Instructions for care

The following notes are based on my own experience & reading. I strongly encourage anyone interested in herptiles to do their own research as many author’s have different opinions and more is constantly being learned about these lizards and herpetoculture in general.

Enclosure: 36" x 12" x 15" (LxWxH) fish tanks with fibreglass screen tops are used as rearing cages. 5 to 10 gallon aquariums are suitable for hatchlings and juveniles. Hatchlings can be housed in groups, although they should be monitered and any weaker animals should be housed separately.

Substrate: Sterilized potting soil without perlite or peat moss are acceptable substrates. This should not be allowed to dry out completely or become soggy. A moisture gradient can be provided by watering along one side of the enclosure.

Heat Source: Centrally heated room. Day/night temp. range between 86°f and 73°f. Some additional heat supplied by low-wattage basking light to allow gravid females to bask.

Light source: Full spectrum lighting: 36” Vita-light. A weak to moderate incandescent spotlight may be used to heat a portion of the enclosure. Be sure the animals have refuge areas protected heat.

Photoperiod: Tropical: 12 hrs on, 12 hrs off. Increased to 13 hours on and 11 off in summer.

Diet: Appropriate sized crickets, mealworms, superworms, earthworms, chopped beef heart, soaked tubifex worms, soaked repto-min, high quality canned cat food etc. These lizards will eat just about any insect or meat-based foods. Hatchlings eat one- to two-week old crickets and small mealworms as well as chopped beef heart and cat food.; increase prey size as lizards grow. All food for juveniles should be dusted with good quality reptile vitamins. Insects for adults should be dusted at every second or third feeding.

Feeding schedule: Daily with occassional fasting days until 9 months of age, then every second day for normal maintenance. Breeding animals should eat more often.

Water: These animals require moderately high humidity, but they must not be continually kept damp. Water should be provided via a dish and/or daily misting of the enclosure.

Breeding: Eggs may be laid between March and October if animals are in good condition. Clutches consist of four to nine oval eggs approximatelt 22 mm long x 13 mm wide. The eggs will swell noticeably before hatching. Incubation lasts approx. 50 days when incubated at 86°F (daytime high) to 78°F (nightime low).

Other requirements: Males are territorial and should not be housed together except in large terraria. Agression may occur during feeding, although injuries seldom result. Adults may eat hatchlings. Good ventilation is a necessity. Provide large sections of bark for the animals to hide under. Adults will uproot plants. Use plastic ones or consider the plants expendable if you use them. These lizards usually tolerate some handling. Many will learn to beg for food when you walk by or open the terrarium top. They may nip at your fingers when they’re hungry (which is almost always).

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