The babies are growing! (Fire Skinks)

Floof

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Took pics of all the 3.5 month old Fire skink babies this evening for giggles. They've grown SO much, and have started going through their color change!

First, a pic of a few as hatchlings... I didn't think to weigh the first batch back then, but the babies in the second clutch all weighed about 2 grams when they hatched.
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(This one is just too cute not to share...)
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A couple pics from about 1.5-2 months old... Around 4-5 grams each.
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Aaand now!
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And of course, what will they look like as adults? Here are the parents to these babies. Still not 100% sure which is which (they're very secretive), lol!
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lisa127

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I've always wanted a fire skink, but can never seem to find them captive bred. They are beautiful!
 

Floof

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Thank you for the comments! Very happy to have these guys.

Lisa, very few people seem to put the effort into captive breeding these guys. Though I've heard of some people trying, I've never seen them available as CBB. Which is really a shame; if my pair is any indication, they're super easy to breed! I literally add food and water (change water dish, water the live plants) and babies appear. Lol!

All my adult skinks are WC, but I try to make up for that and the fact that the majority are also WC by breeding them. Hope to help relieve at least a small portion of that demand. All 11 of my babies are on hold already. 8 of them are going to a reptile breeder who wishes to start a breeding colony Fires. I'm very excited for them to be part of this effort! I'm also hoping to expand when I have space/funds: Add another breeding pair or trio. Even just adding a second female to my pair would be great...

I'm also working toward breeding my other two species of skink, Goldens and Schneiders. Both are also almost never bred in captivity.
 

Tom

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Wow! What a treat! This is so cool. Congratulations to you and thanks for sharing this!!!

So that others (to be read: Tom...) may learn from your success and hopefully duplicate it, would you tell us (...me) how they are housed? Enclosure type and size, substrate, temps, heating and lighting?

I have an extra 24x24" tank and an abundance of roaches. I've been looking for a little insectivorous species to play with. I've always loved Schneider skinks. Are the fire skinks similar in temperament and habits to the Schneiders?

Any pics or info would be great!
 

Sulcata_Sandy

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I'm with Tom. I'm curious about your habitat. I've never seen a Fire in person, hoping to next month at the reptile show.

My ultimate lizard is the SA Armadillo.
 

Floof

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Tom, happy to help! They do seem to have similar temperament to my Schneiders, but a bit different behavior--while I catch the Schneiders out basking regularly, I never see the adult Fires aboveground except to eat. The younger babies will sit on top of the substrate and wait for food to fall from the sky when the dish is empty, though! They seem to tolerate gentle handling fairly well, with minimal blood letting. I'm sure they can be tamed down to be easily handled with effort, but it's such a pain in the *** to dig them up that I tend to just let them do their thing instead.

As for their care... Let's see... I did do a huge overhaul on their enclosure a month ago, which included streamlining their heat, so we'll start with how they were housed over the summer.

I house the adult pair in a 40 gallon Breeder size tank... So about 36x18" floorspace. There's a good 5-6" of substrate.. Substrate is a mixture of Eco earth and Cypress mulch. I do use live plants in the tank. Only hardy ones, of course, that can tolerate being knocked around by burrowing skinks and uprooted during baby hunts every couple months. Currently, that means Pothos and Bromeliad. They seem to appreciate having the rootballs for something to burrow into and hide in. As far as moisture/humidity goes, I don't track it beyond watering the plants/substrate anywhere from once a week to just when the top layer dries out (this seems to allow the bottom layers to maintain a nice level of moist-but-not-wet. If you squeeze a handful, it holds a form without dripping at all).

I do maintain a couple surface level hides, which they use for burrow entrances. With the latest enclosure overhaul, I installed a climbing apparatus which I haven't seen either of them use yet. I'm told they climb, I guess we'll find out!

I do keep them under a ReptiSun 5.0 UVB tube, mounted inside the enclosure. I've seen quite a bit of debate about whether or not they actually need UVB, but I'd rather err on the side of caution. Better to have UVB and them not need it than to not have UVB and wind up with sick skinks!

Heat... Let's see... OLD enclosure: I was using a Ceramic Heat Emitter as the sole heat source. I kept it on a thermostat, probe tucked under the warm side hide/burrow entrance, set to 85-90F (resulting in a roughly mid-90s basking spot and warm end substrate in the high 70s/low 80s). This worked well over the summer, with warm (high 70s to mid 80s) ambient room temp. The overhead heat fried their warm end Pothos plant, though, and once cooler weather hit, I started having trouble maintaining a decent temp within the substrate level. Actually wasn't sure if the second clutch would go to term, as the temps were regularly in the low 70s during their incubation. (To my surprise, they even hatched out on schedule! Well, kind of--without knowing actual lay date, I had guesstimated an early to mid November hatch date. The first baby appeared on October 31st.)

With the NEW enclosure, I've streamlined the heating arrangement in hopes of maintaining more consistent substrate temps and hopefully not frying anymore plants. Their primary heat source is now a UTH, controlled by a thermostat set to 85ish. I did retain a low wattage basking light, just on during the day, to give them the option. I also added 1/2" foam insulation under the wire shelf they sit on, to help minimize loss of heat--something I didn't have earlier in the year.

Old enclosure, where all of the current babies incubated and hatched:
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New enclosure. Swapped the old tank for an Exo Terra of the same size for ease of access. Though, as much as I'm sure the adults love all the groundcover, I foresee really hating myself when it comes time to dig for babies next season.
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The adults' diet has primarily been appropriately sized dusted Dubia nymphs, supplemented with chopped nightcrawlers. Though as it stands right now, the Dubia colony has been having trouble keeping up with demand... So their diet has been heavier in mealworms and superworms. (Much to my dismay. Not a fan of either, really, but they're the lesser of 2 evils compared to crickets.)

The babies are fed newborn Dubia nymphs and finely chopped nightcrawler bits... Though I've been known to supplement with the dogs' Instinct frozen raw dog food in a pinch (generally Lamb, Venison, or Rabbit--one of the pups is allergic to poultry). I don't make a habit of it, but it is handy on rushed mornings when there's no baby-sized live prey in the house!
 

Tom

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Thank you Taylor. This is above and beyond. Is that a florescent UV tube on top? Since they burrow so much and eat insects and meat, do they need UV in your experience?

I've got extra dubia if you run short. I've got a 40 gallon tub with 14 egg flats in it and only a few tarantulas to feed. Also, have you ever tried "red runners"? Blatta lateralis? They are awesome for smaller sized lizards like the skinks, and they don't hide so much like the dubia.

My wholesaler has some WC fire skinks right now and I'm going there on Thursday to ship a tortoise. Don't know that I will be able to resist...
 

wellington

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Your skinks are beautiful. Congrats and hope for you to get many more. I see some in the very near future for Tom. Thanks for sharing. Btw, how big/long are the parents?
 

lisa127

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Floof said:
Thank you for the comments! Very happy to have these guys.

Lisa, very few people seem to put the effort into captive breeding these guys. Though I've heard of some people trying, I've never seen them available as CBB. Which is really a shame; if my pair is any indication, they're super easy to breed! I literally add food and water (change water dish, water the live plants) and babies appear. Lol!

All my adult skinks are WC, but I try to make up for that and the fact that the majority are also WC by breeding them. Hope to help relieve at least a small portion of that demand. All 11 of my babies are on hold already. 8 of them are going to a reptile breeder who wishes to start a breeding colony Fires. I'm very excited for them to be part of this effort! I'm also hoping to expand when I have space/funds: Add another breeding pair or trio. Even just adding a second female to my pair would be great...

I'm also working toward breeding my other two species of skink, Goldens and Schneiders. Both are also almost never bred in captivity.

I've been interested in Schneiders as well. But again, I prefer cb lizards. If you ever have any babies again of the fire skinks or the Schneiders please let me know! I've had a blue tongued skink for 15 years now, and years ago had a monkey tail for a short while. But that's the limit of my skink keeping.
 

Floof

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Tom, I don't have enough experience to say whether they need it or not. But yes, I do provide a UVB tube (a lower output one, though--the 5.0), just in case. It's my suspicion that they don't need it, but I'm going with the "better safe than sorry" philosophy for the moment. :)

I'm toying with the idea of experimenting with a small clutch next year. Half under UV and half without, see if it makes a difference in growing hatchlings.

I may have to take you up on that! Don't suppose you're going to Pomona this weekend?
I've heard of Blatta lateralis before, but know very little about them. I'll have to look into them...

In the interest of being a shameless enabler. I've been holding 3 of the older babies for a "friend," but it looks like he's decided to flake. If he doesn't get back to me before the end of the week, I'm calling it.. Would you like me to let you know if they become available? ;)

Barb, thank you! The adults.. Oh gosh. Digging them out is easier said than done... But guesstimating, around 6-7" SVL.. And maybe 11-14" total length.
Here's both of them in hand, if it offers a bit of size perspective.
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Actually, this picture shows an interesting little detail. Many skinks are notoriously hard to sex. When I acquired these guys, I was told the one on the left is female; the one on the right is the male. I went with it, tentatively. Their head sizes were consistent with the claim, at least (males allegedly tend to have larger heads). Then in the last couple months, I noticed the alleged "female" has what looks suspiciously like a hemipenal bulge. Which I was under the impression wasn't discernible in skinks... But the alleged "male" definitely doesn't have it. So perhaps I have my answer on which one is which?

Lisa, I will! I'm expecting more fire babies next year for sure. And who knows... Probably too cold to ship at the moment, but if those babies I mentioned do become available (and you don't mind an older baby)... ;)
 

Floof

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Lol! Forgot I used that pic. Yep! Decided to list their old tank for giggles. So over the top-opening tank thing.

Thank you!
 

lisa127

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Floof said:
Tom, I don't have enough experience to say whether they need it or not. But yes, I do provide a UVB tube (a lower output one, though--the 5.0), just in case. It's my suspicion that they don't need it, but I'm going with the "better safe than sorry" philosophy for the moment. :)

I'm toying with the idea of experimenting with a small clutch next year. Half under UV and half without, see if it makes a difference in growing hatchlings.

I may have to take you up on that! Don't suppose you're going to Pomona this weekend?
I've heard of Blatta lateralis before, but know very little about them. I'll have to look into them...

In the interest of being a shameless enabler. I've been holding 3 of the older babies for a "friend," but it looks like he's decided to flake. If he doesn't get back to me before the end of the week, I'm calling it.. Would you like me to let you know if they become available? ;)

Barb, thank you! The adults.. Oh gosh. Digging them out is easier said than done... But guesstimating, around 6-7" SVL.. And maybe 11-14" total length.
Here's both of them in hand, if it offers a bit of size perspective.
DSCN0528_zpsaa35871e.jpg


Actually, this picture shows an interesting little detail. Many skinks are notoriously hard to sex. When I acquired these guys, I was told the one on the left is female; the one on the right is the male. I went with it, tentatively. Their head sizes were consistent with the claim, at least (males allegedly tend to have larger heads). Then in the last couple months, I noticed the alleged "female" has what looks suspiciously like a hemipenal bulge. Which I was under the impression wasn't discernible in skinks... But the alleged "male" definitely doesn't have it. So perhaps I have my answer on which one is which?

Lisa, I will! I'm expecting more fire babies next year for sure. And who knows... Probably too cold to ship at the moment, but if those babies I mentioned do become available (and you don't mind an older baby)... ;)

The one on the left has a wider tail base. I would think that would be the male??

And I don't mind an older baby at all. :)
 

Tom

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Taylor, I agree with yours and Lisa's assessment of the hemipenal bulges in the tail. I'm obviously no expert, but that would be my best guess too. Also the color seems a little "richer" which from what I've been reading is a typical male trait.

I would love to get a CB baby from you. Please let me know if the other sale does not work out. And you won't have to ship it either! :) I could bring you some dubia...

I gave away my B. lateralis colony, but I'm thinking of starting it up again... They take a while to get going if you start with small numbers, but once they get going, look out!
 

Floof

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Fantastic!

Lisa, we'll have to discuss holding one til Ohio thaws out if the sale doesn't go through! I certainly wouldn't mind getting to watch that color development for a couple more months!

Tom, I gave him til Thursday to speak up, so I'll let you know for sure by Friday!


Knew I forgot something.. I hadn't known that about color, thank you! The one on the right IS in shed in that side by side pic. Though IIRC (she spends so much freaking time underground), she is overall darker colored than the male. (I.e. lacking the solid gold back)
 

Floof

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My dad refuses to admit it, but he's an excellent enabler. Lol. I rent from him (using the term just a little loosely.. most my rent is paid in dog food), so I try not to bring in anything bigger than a corn snake without his blessing. Fortunately he enjoys the snakes, and is mesmerized by the torts. (It's kind of adorable!)

He called from WA today, and while we were chatting he declared that I should get a couple more of "those skinks." Music to my ears! It'd be nice having two unrelated pairs/groups going...
 
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