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How Do You Feed A Fire Skink Who Is Hiding All The Time W/o Stressing Him Out By Digging For Him?

Discussion in 'Skinks' started by d3tsui, Jan 6, 2017.

  1. d3tsui

    d3tsui Member

    Thanks for any help anyone can provide...

    ME: first time reptile owner

    I recently bought a fire skink (wild caught) and had him in a temporary enclosure. It was easy to find him and dig him out to feed him. He'd happily eat everything I put in front of him (crickets, mealworms, and superworms).

    After about 2 weeks in the temporary home, I moved him into his new, larger enclosure. I've planted it and am using a bioactive substrate with moss and coconut husk to help maintain humidity. I've attached a picture (please note I've adjusted the temperature now so the image might be misleading).

    The problem is now Zuko is hidden all the time.

    MY QUESTION#1: How do I feed him his crickets if he's never out?

    I dug him out yesterday (removed the wood and rocks) and he looked a little paler in colour but still ate very enthusiastically. I'm assuming the colour difference was stress (shed?)...

    I'm going to wait a few days before trying to find him again to feed him his crickets. I'll set a bowl of worms out too in a few days.

    MY QUESTION #2: am I stressing him out by digging for him to feed him? Should I let him come out on his own to eat?

    ADDITIONAL FACTS: it's the dead of winter here in Ottawa. I've got his enclosure at 95F basking, 85F ambient, 75F nighttime and 10-12 hour daylight cycle.

    thank you thank you thank you for your help...

    pic#1: old home
    pic#2: new home
    Zuko_old_home.jpg Zuko_new_home.jpg
  2. Darkbird

    Darkbird Moderator Staff Member

    I would just leave it be, and give it time to get used to its new surroundings. It can take a week or sometimes several for a new critter to acclimate, and wild caught adults can be the worst. Time and patience will be needed here, and maybe a couple tweaks to the cage. I would suggest moving that basking area to one end of the cage or the other, as that will create a better heat gradient. Also, I see the back is covered, cover the ends as well, at least for the time being, it may make the skink feel more secure, so out more. And definitely no more digging it out. I would just leave the crickets in and try to keep track of how fast they disappear. A piece of carrot or apple can be placed in the cage to keep them from bothering the lizard.
    d3tsui likes this.
  3. d3tsui

    d3tsui Member

    Thanks so much! I haven't covered any of the sides/back...that's actually the hideous wallpaper in that room. I'll try and create a bit more privacy for him and let some crickets in (with the carrot/apple).

    So no digging out for a week? If I see him before then and crickets are disappearing, I'll update! Thanks again.
  4. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    My fire skinks use to hide all of the time as well. I would release the crickets and let the skinks do their own thing. They came out when they wanted to eat or drink.
    d3tsui likes this.
  5. d3tsui

    d3tsui Member

    Thanks! Feeling a little more confident that he'll be fine. Already made a few changes to his environment (more hides) so hopefully he'll feel safe coming out for crickets.
    Rich likes this.
  6. d3tsui

    d3tsui Member

    Zuko_NEW_NEW_home.jpg Well...I've made adjustments to the enclosure (side coverings not shown the picture) and left out some worms in a bowl and crickets roaming free (was 8 too many?!).

    The bowl of worms is missing all its superworms, mealworms untouched. Not sure if they were eaten or escaped but look there was activity around the bowl.

    Fewer crickets visible but they could just be hiding really well...

    My motion-sensing camera keeps picking up action but I don't see anything! I'm looking around the substrate like some kind of forensics technician (seeing substrate moved here and there)...

    ASSUMING he's just really sneaky and is do I dust his food if they're free to shake it all off?

    Thanks for the help, folks!
  7. d3tsui

    d3tsui Member

    Any chance he's brumating, AND crickets are hiding, AND worms escaped into substrate? What temperature triggers brumation?
  8. Darkbird

    Darkbird Moderator Staff Member

    I doubt it's trying to brumate as it was eating fine once dug out, just didn't want to to come out on its own when someone was present. More likely the skink is just being very wary about coming into the open yet. Check under anything hollow and see if crickets are hiding under it, that will likely tell you if they are being eaten or just staying out of sight. The superworms shouldn't have been able to go anywhere unless that dish isn't smooth all the way up or isn't deeper than they are long. Heck, I would just put all the bugs in the same dish, you might lose a few crickets to free roaming the cage, but it still won't hurt anything.
    d3tsui likes this.
  9. d3tsui

    d3tsui Member

    I tried one of these online vet things (JustAnswer) before I found this forum. She mentioned sometimes skinks will just instinctively brumate (especially wild caught) by I really just need to determine if he's coming out at all.
  10. d3tsui

    d3tsui Member

    have not seen him for a week...bowl full of worms has been untouched all day. feeling the urge to dig him out again to feed him...
  11. d3tsui

    d3tsui Member

    caught him on camera! no digging him out for now! 15_23_37.jpg
  12. d3tsui

    d3tsui Member

    Seems like he's gotten a bit more comfortable and is coming out a several times a week (and at least twice a week for food). Thanks for all your help!
  13. d3tsui

    d3tsui Member

    Hi All!

    It's been a year and everything has been going great until...

    ...last month when my undertank heater turned off without me knowing. I have not seen Zuko in 2 weeks. He has not touched any food (that i can tell). My hypothesis is he was tricked into brumation because of the broken heater (it's winter here in Canada so his soil temp was probably in the low 20s celcius). I still water the tank, the heater has been replaced, lights are still normal but still no sign of him. Time to dig him out and expect the worst?

    thanks for any help!
  14. Darkbird

    Darkbird Moderator Staff Member

    I would say yes, dig it up and make sure it's ok, then just let it alone again after. Some animals will brumate even if cage conditions remain unchanged, but it varies a lot. Just curious, was it the heat pad itself or the thermostat controlling it that went out?
  15. d3tsui

    d3tsui Member

    it was the heatpad. thanks for the advice! will dig for him tomorrow. wish me luck...
  16. Darkbird

    Darkbird Moderator Staff Member

    Good luck!
  17. d3tsui

    d3tsui Member

    I took the time over the weekend to dig him out...and he's doing remarkably well for someone who hasn't eaten in almost 3 weeks. took the time to make a few changes to his enclosure too. thanks again! 62940271_2018-01-06_10-54-06.jpg
  18. Darkbird

    Darkbird Moderator Staff Member

    Good to hear. It may have just gone off a bit when the heater died, getting it out may wake it up again. Or it may not, no big deal really as long as its not losing significant weight.

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