All About the African Skink

The African skink is otherwise known as the fire skink or Togo fire skink.

It’s a large lizard species from the family Scincidae. This animal is commonly kept as a pet.

What You Should Know

The natural habitat of the African skink is in the West African tropical forests. They live among three different regions in the continent. True fire skinks have a slender and long face with neck patterning. This is the most known of the three. L. Fernandi Harlani come from central Africa. They have shorter snouts and broader heads. The Togo fire skink (L. Fernardi Hinkeli) supposedly has two of its own subspecies.

The skinks prefer to spend their time in burrows or other crevices among the dead trees. That’s where they find many of the insects they eat. In captivity, they eat locusts, crickets, roaches, and mealworms. 

What Sound Do They Make?

The African skink is a lizard unlike any other. While this species is docile and easy to get along with, it can reach a point of enough. The only sound that the skink might make is a hissing noise, which means to get away. This is a warning sign alerting those around to give the skink some room. 

Group Characteristics

The fire skink is oviparous. Breeding seasons last from April to May and the female will lay five to nine eggs after a mating session. Then, the eggs take an average of 45 days to hatch, as long as they remain incubated at temperatures around 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

How Many Are There?

The fire skink population is stable, but de-forestation does affect them. Natural predators to this lizard include herons, hawks, foxes, coatis, and raccoons. They have some adaptations that allow them to thrive in their environments. They run fast, have unique coloring schemes and shed their tail when captured.

Pop Culture

One of the most well-known places that skinks were used is in The Lion Guard. The character names include Shupavu, Njano, Nyeusi, Waza, and Nyata. In this show, skinks are the lizards that live in the Pride Lands and the Outlands. Aside from that, skinks are a popular subject in reptile magazine and pet-care guides. It’s common to find this species at reptile shows since it is in high demand for pet-owners.

Interesting Facts

When it comes to having a fire skink as a pet, most of the specimens are caught in the wild, but there are also some captive-bred options. Fire skinks require a large tank with horizontal space so they can climb. They also like to burrow, so it helps to have a loose substrate. Their environment must be humid and moist, like their home habitat. Live insects are used for captive skinks, just like if they were eating in the wild. Some keepers find that occasionally offering a small mouse is a nice treat.

Fire skinks can bite, but it doesn’t usually cause any problems. This lizard is non-poisonous. The majority of bites occur when attempting to capture the lizard. It’s also possible for them to fight when they get cornered or feel threatened. Even when it is a pet, it’s important not to grab onto the tail.

The life span of an African skink is seven to 20 years, depending on the environment. Skinks will reach eight to 18 inches long, depending on the species. The fire skink contains a mixture of silver, white, black and red scales. On its back, it has golden and red hues on the sides. Depending on the skink’s mood, these colors can dull or brighten.

While it’s possible to house more than one skink in a tank, it shouldn’t be two of the same gender.