Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Many of the most interesting reptile field research reports are published in professional journals such as Copeia, Herpetologica and Herpetological Review, and are not available on the Internet. From time to time I’ll provide summaries of some of the fascinating articles that I come across. Today’s report covers Spring, 2010 publications: Common Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentina), Texas Horned Lizards (Phrynosoma cornuta), Italian Wall Lizards (Podarcis siculus) and Eastern Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getula). Read More »
Monthly Archives: August 2010
Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. In my opinion, the aptly-named Fire Skink, Mochlus (formerly Riopa) fernandi, is one of the most strikingly-colored and interesting of all lizards. It is not overly popular, due to a rather shy nature, and hence prices are very reasonable, especially for such a gorgeous animal. The challenge of creating a habitat where these forest-dwellers will feel comfortable enough to show themselves is well-worth taking, trust me.
This glossy, 12-14 inch-long lizard is colored bright red with black and white stripes along the sides, and marked with a golden-brown back stripe; the legs are black and the tail is blue-black, speckled with blue.
Fire Skinks favor rainforests, open woodlands and scrub along the edges of grasslands. They spend most of their time below leaf litter, but bask regularly.
Largely unstudied – populations appear stable, but are likely impacted by de-forestation; the species is unprotected.
Little is known of the Fire Skink’s reproductive biology in the wild. Captives produce 4-9 eggs, which are buried in moist substrate and hatch in approximately 50 days. Males are territorial and fight if housed together.
Snails, spiders, centipedes, beetles, locusts and other invertebrates; fallen fruit, carrion, frogs, lizards; may take nestling rodents and other small mammals on occasion.
This lizard is extremely alert and high strung. It does well in captivity, but rarely allows close contact or even extended observation, and remains cautious even after years in confinement.
I’ve had my best results with terrariums of at least 55 gallons capacity (for 1-2 animals) and large zoo exhibits. If you spend time creating a complex, well-planted exhibit, you will eventually be rewarded by being able to view the skinks as they forage and bask. The sight of such brilliantly-colored reptiles moving about among thick stands of live plants makes the effort well worthwhile.
Captive longevity exceeds 20 years. I’ve bred Fire Skinks on several occasions; males and females usually coexist only during the breeding season.
I’ll cover Fire Skink care in greater detail in a future article. Please write in with your questions and comments.
Thanks, until next time,
The Fire Skink’s 1,200+ relatives make up the largest lizard family; please see my Skink Overview for more info.
Video of a Fire Skink feeding
Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. In Part 1 of this article we examined the natural history of this heaviest and possibly longest of all snakes. The Green Anaconda (Eunectes murinus) has generated a great many stories – through field research, I’ve had several opportunities to ferret out some interesting details behind these (please see article referenced below). Today we’ll take a look at the astonishing array of creatures it is known to consume. Read More »
Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Phorid Flies, also known as Scuttle Flies or Humpbacked Flies, often show up in terrariums housing reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. Usually confused with Fruit Flies, these little pests feed upon meat-based foods and organic waste and are classified in the 4,000+ member insect family Phoridae. The most commonly encountered species in US collections is Megacelia scalaris, and an outbreak can range from a mere annoyance to a serious problem. Please see Part 1 of this article for further information. Today we’ll examine some simple methods of controlling these and related flies. Read More »
Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. I often recommend live-bearing species to folks interested in getting started on breeding reptiles and amphibians. If given the proper environment, live-bearing moms take care of the hard work of incubation, leaving us to enjoy the offspring. But livebearers are certainly not for beginners only (nor are they all “easy”…sorry!) – in North and Central America’s Swifts, also known as Spiny or Fence Lizards (Genus Sceloporus), we are presented with over 90 fascinating species ranging from the very hardy to the rarely kept or bred. A number of readily available species give birth to live young. Read More »