Fire Skink Caresheet (Riopa fernandi) Fire Skink Caresheet (Riopa fernandi)
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Fire Skink Caresheet (Riopa fernandi)

by Steve Kary & Richard Brooks
Fire Skink Caresheet (Riopa fernandi)
© Steve Kary
Fire Skink Taxonomy

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Scincidae
Genus: Riopa
Species: fernandi

Native Range - Fire Skinks

Fire skinks can be found in Guinea, East of Zaire, Angola and Uganda.

Fire Skink Size

Adult fire skinks will reach approximately 10-14 inches in length, with males being slightly larger.

Fire Skink Appearance

Fire skinks have beautiful coloration. They typically have a gold back with black, red and white fire pattern on the side. They have a black and white throat region with a white speckled black tail and smooth scales.

Fire Skink Diet

Mealworms, superworms, crickets, waxworms, spotted roaches, silkworms, phoenix worms, locusts and butterworms can all be part of a fire skinks diet. They can take fruit, egg, pinky mice, and other lizards (i.e. Anoles), low fat cat food, veggies or other grubs, but often reject nonliving prey, especially fruits and veggies. They are not active predators; they are sit-and-wait predators. Remember that a calcium supplement with lower phosphorus and D3 additive is always beneficial.


A shallow water dish is suggested for drinking, bathing, and to aid in humidity.

Housing Fire Skinks

Fire skinks should be housed in no less than a 20-gallon tank (24 x 13 x 21) for one fire skink. Pieces of wood and/or plants to hide under should be provided to provide hiding places and security.

Fire Skink Substrate

Keepers should use soil with mulch or sphagnum as a substrate and should be moderately moist. It should never be dry or soggy. Moisten the substrate once daily so approximate 70-80% ground humidity is maintained.

Coconut husk retains moisture extremely well and can be used as part of a mixture for this purpose.

Fire Skink Temperatures

The enclosure temperature should be between 80 - 85 degrees during the day, and they should have a basking area that is about 90 - 95 degrees.

Night time temperatures can be lowered to 75 degrees.

Heating Fire Skinks

The size of the enclosure, room temperature, and other factors will depict how you heat your fire skinks enclosure. Some of the more common ways to maintain an adequate heat gradient is with the use of under tank heaters, ceramic heat emitters, incandescent bulbs, and heat tape.

A digital thermometer with an external probe should be used to monitor the temperatures.

Fire Skink Temperament

Fire skinks have a very mild temperament but are best kept separate from one another. Females could be kept safely together, but never two males. Male and female pairs should only be kept together during breeding season.

Fire Skink Caresheet (Riopa fernandi)
Fire Skink Hatching - © Richard Brooks
Fire Skink Life Span

There is no good evidence for their total lifespan in captivity, but an estimation of 10-20 years is logical.

Fire Skink Behavior

They burrow making them feel more secure. They can be easily handled but may resist coming out by swimming away in the substrate. They can be very moody and will bite if provoked. Look out for puffing of the throat and back arching as signs of aggression and be careful, because they can inflict a painful bite. They must be handled regularly in order to calm them down. Skinks are diurnal and are most active during the day.

Fire Skink Lighting

A basking light with a 10-12 hour light cycle is required. This is called a photoperiod.

Exposure to UVA and UVB will increase appetite, sexual drive, coloration, and increase overall health by allowing for natural synthesis of D3.

Fire Skink Breeding

A well-fed Fire Skink will be necessary for a successful breeding and healthy babies. Nesting boxes are suggested but females may lay eggs within the enclosure and maybe difficult to spot. Females can lay up to 5-9 eggs. They can take as long as 40-50 days to hatch and should be incubated in vermiculite at approximately 85 degrees.

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Fire Skink Caresheet (Riopa fernandi)

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