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Fire Skink Help

Discussion in 'Skinks' started by infantry492, Aug 9, 2014.

  1. infantry492

    infantry492 Active Member

    Hello everyone, My name is Tristan and I just bought my new friend Tarkus, he is a fire skink. I got him on 8/8/14. Ive never owned a skink before so I have many questions about owning one. Before I bought him I did some research so I wasn't going into this completely blind but I still have questions.

    His tank is a 50 gallon fish tank and has Eco Earth coconut fiber as the substrate with a cave, two pieces of mopani wood/ logs, a food and a medium sized water dish so he can bathe, a rock waterfall filter by tetra I used before for my turtles( I cleaned it out with diluted vinegar and baking soda mixed water and I took out the pump) I have a good bit of zilla beaked moss on the waterfall filter, the cave on the outside, on the wood, and on the basking platform. I have the filter set in the back right corner with the main heat lamp above it. The heat lamp has a 100w repti basking spot-lamp bulb by zoomed and its in a flukers 5.5 clamp lamp, which is actually hanging on a hook in the wall about an inch or two above the tank. In the middle, I have a zilla 75w night heat bulb and on the left side of the tank I have a regular 40w bulb for the cool end and that bulb is situated above the cave. I am planning on getting some live plants, my spider plant has impeccable timing because its sprouting babies and im going to put those in the tank to help with humidity.

    I am however, having some problems with humidity. First off, the moss and coconut fiber is drying out at a pace that brings the humidity from 85% to about 70% in just a few hours. I do spray the moss and substrate with bottled water a few times every day. Maybe the light is too intense and it dries everything up. I actually moved the heat lamp up on my wall as I said before but that didn't help as much as I thought it would. Any help there would be much appreciated.

    The temperature is fine during the day though, it stays at about 85-90 F. on the side with the heat lamp. (I'm stupid and just realizing that I should check the temperature on the cool side, but his tank is set to night right now.) the night time temperature is 80 F. the humidity is also 80%, it may change through the night but im not sure it will too much because my AC is set to 72 F just to make sure he doesn't get too cold and my room is pretty warm right now so im sure the temperature should be fine. Anything you could tell me about temperature would be appreciated as well.

    As for feeding, I have crickets that I feed Flukers orange cubes and I have zoomed repti calcium with D3 for dusting. I also have wax worms and meal worms, but im not sure what to gut load them with. So far over the past two days, he hasn't eaten much. I'm thinking its because hes still getting used to his surroundings. On his first day, he ate two wax worms (I know, they're a treat and are not to be fed to him on a daily basis) he also ate one meal worm, and today he ate one cricket and one meal worm. I have yet to see feces, but then again, hes been hiding under the substrate most of the time, which I know is normal. He also hasn't been going into his water dish to soak at all. Would you say hes healthy but still getting used to everything with how little hes eating? Is the lack of visible feces ok? I know they normally go in their water dish but I have yet to see any in there. What should I be gut loading my worms with? Will he come out to eat when he feels like it and if so, should I leave a bowl of meal worms out or let a few crickets roam his tank? I'm worried that if I let the crickets roam free, then he'll eat some of the substrate and get compaction. I also have yet to see him go to the surface and bask in the light, is that a bad thing? Any and all help would be appreciated.

    Hopefully you guys can answer my questions so I can give Tarkus a long and happy life. Thanks in advance.

  2. Logan

    Logan Elite Member

    I have no idea on anything actual skink related. But, as for keeping humidity in (idk what its supposed to be for a skink) if you're using a screen top, you will have problems holding in humidity. Even covering part of the screen will help.
  3. infantry492

    infantry492 Active Member

    They say the humidity should be around 85% but can go as low as about 70%, I am using a screen cover so like you said, that's not helping me at all. But thank you for the tip, I will definitely cover the screen.
  4. Andyurgay

    Andyurgay Member

    I'm so glad I found this post. I just got my first Fire Skink about a week and a half ago and I'm having the exact same issues with him. Hopefully someone will come along with some advice. None of the care sheets or other internet advice seems very well founded or accurate. I mean, I was told to keep my guy at 30%-50% humidity when I got him. Thankfully I've been keeping him around 70% most of the time.
  5. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

  6. Quinkan

    Quinkan Member

    I have a tropical terrarium with a screen top, and what I find really helps with keeping humidity in is putting a wet rag over the parts that aren't covered by the lamp. I hope I helped :)
  7. infantry492

    infantry492 Active Member

    Its been a while since Ive said anything on here, sorry about that, Ive been pretty busy with work and such. But anyways, Tarkus is doing just fine, I changed his home up a good bit, I even added live spider plants and the exo terra water fountain rock thinger. Hes eating well, he eats almost everything I give him, granted it isn't usually when im putting it his bowl, and from what Ive read, his long periods of hiding are pretty normal so I just give him his space and let him be comfortable. last time I took him out of his tank, he seemed to be healthy, he was very alert, both eyes open, no gunk around his nose or eyes, he seems to be doing just fine. I have tried feeding him meal worms and super worms by hand and sometimes he goes for it, so I guess hes beginning to trust me. Also, Thanks to everyone who gave me tips and help and such, its all very much appreciated. Thank you all so much
  8. Helios

    Helios Elite Member

    Hey Tristan, I keep and breed fire skinks. You've received some good advice and your care sounds very good. You'll find Fire skinks are actually very hardy. As yo his hiding you should find that the more hiding places and cover you provide the more often he'll be on the surface. Since you have a 50 gallon consider adding some height. These guys are actually decent climbers and will do so if branches are sturdy enough. Oh as to humidity and temp: substrate humidity is more important than surface. The surface can get as low as 40% with no problems. Don't let the substrate get soggy. Your ambient day temp during the day should sit around 84 and can drop as much as ten degrees at night. Oh! You also will likely notice less activity this time of year through about March.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Reptiles magazine is going to run a feature on Fire Skinks next month if you're interested in picking up a copy.
  9. infantry492

    infantry492 Active Member

    Thank you for the tips, any website Ive been on that says anything about the humidity doesn't mention the ground humidity. That.s a very helpful tip, though how would you check it? would you use a regular hygrometer? also I posted a picture of his tank on my profile page under the album called Tarkus, if you want, take a look and tell me if you have anymore tips you could give me about it. Thank you for the compliment on how well my care seems, that really helps me and tells me that im going in the right direction. I do have some questions about feeding though. How often should I dust my super worms, crickets, and the occasional wax worm? I have two types of calcium powder, I have the Zoo med repti calcium and the rep cal herptivite multivitamin powder. could I potentially mix the two? I noticed that the multivitamin doesn't have D3 but the repti calcium does and I know that D3 is very important and I want to make sure hes getting enough of everything he needs. And again thank you!! :)
  10. Helios

    Helios Elite Member

    You bet! Yeah, that's kind of the big misnomer about the humidty with these guys. If you run a regular hydrometer close-ish to the surface it'll give you a decent idea. Basically you'll know that the ground humidity should be higher than the air above. The other key there is just checking to make sure the substrate remains moist but not soggy.
    Your enclosure looks pretty nice! If you want to add to it I would suggest some plants or branches that minimize the amount of open space. I use a large bushy plant that takes up one side but has openings near the surface and a tall broad leafed plant that creates the sense of high cover. Essentially anything else you add that continues to create a sense of being enclosed or hidden on a larger scale should likely increase activity. Again though, if you don't see those results right away it's probably due to seasonal change/coming into winter.
    I dust my crickets about every third feeding. I typically don't dust superworms or wax worms due to how I alternate food sources. I'd think it would be fine to go ahead and dust the superworms and wax worms if you wanted. In my case I don't offer enough wax worms at once to make it part of my vitamin routine. I don't think mixing would hurt, but since in effect, you'd be double dosing with two different formulas I might just alternate when you use which one.
    Oh also another note: I didn't see if you happen to use UVB light, but to date there is no definitive proof that Fire Skinks require UVB to survive and many thrive without it as long as you dust regularly. Still, there certainly may be benefits of using UVB; however, if he is in a room in which there is some exposure to sunlight he's very likely getting some UVB. You bet!
  11. infantry492

    infantry492 Active Member

    I'm going to change the substrate maybe this weekend since its starting to smell a little, plus the stuff I have now is kinda soggy in some places. would it be a good idea to put earthworms in the soil? I found a thing of them at Petco, they call them red wigglers. I want to put them in to help aerate the soil and to help keep it from getting moldy. I may get one of the probe thermometer/hygrometers so I can check the ground humidity easier. As for the dusting, ill start doing something similar to what you do. And the main heat bulb is a UVB bulb, its 100w. When I bought it, I made sure it was UVB. I know UVB is very important with some animals if not all and I took that into consideration when I was buying my supplies the first time around.
  12. Helios

    Helios Elite Member

    I don't remember if you said you do a mix, but try mixing the eco earth with something like cypress mulch. It will help keep some air circulating within the substrate. Honestly I've never heard of putting earthworms in the soil. That's an interesting idea! I think what you would run into though would be your skink eating them all. Might be worth a try though! It's always a good idea to have a probe on hand! I run the digital therm/hydrometer and then use a probe to check other areas every now and again. Nice, sounds like you're solid with your UV needs.
  13. infantry492

    infantry492 Active Member

    I just have a mix of eco earth and exo terra coconut fiber, so not much of a mix but the texture of the two is definitely different. maybe I could go with both of those plus the cypress much or something else like that. I think Ill try some worms as an experiment just to see how well that goes. And I will definitely get a probe. Also I have an under the tank heating pad for the winter, which im told is supposed to be really bad.
  14. Helios

    Helios Elite Member

    Mixes work really well! Hmm... what have you seen or heard about under tank heaters being bad? Undertank heaters are actually a practice I would recommend with Fire Skinks. As long at the tank is mounted to the exterior of the enclsoure and you mist/clean regularly they don't present any problems and are actually very useful in creating a temperature gradient in large enough tanks.

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