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Berber Skink Care - The Basics

Updated on March 1, 2010

Introduction

The Berber Skink, also know as the Schneider's Skink, is a medium sized skink native to northwestern Africa and western Asia. They grow to be about 16 inches head to tail and may live up to 20 years in captivity.

Berber Skinks are a great mellow, low maintenance pet. They are beautiful to look at and enjoy laying in the warmth of your hands. These wonderful creatures were my first pet and because of their hardiness are good for any level pet owner. They also almost never bite on purpose so they're easy to handle. The only time I've ever been bitten is when my skink confused my finger for a meal worm and even then I barely felt a thing.

Also, don't be startled if they try to climb up to your head. It's nice and warm up there.

Cages

The first thing you'll need for your skink is a nice terrarium. I recommend a 50 gallon glass rectangle terrarium to insure your skinks have the best quality life. If you absolutely can't get something that size you can get something as small as 20 gallons but remember that bigger is always better. Find a cage that has the ability to open one half of the cage at a time. You will need this because the heat lamp will be sitting on the other half. On the heat lamp side you'll want the top to be made of metal wire. The other side can be either glass or wire. My terrarium is half wire/half glass and it works out great.

The terrarium should be wider and longer then it is tall. Berber skinks to not need to climb as much as other lizards because they are mostly ground dwellers. Cage height is not important.

If you want to make your cage setup look a little better and maybe even make your skinks feel more at home you can by the terrarium version of wallpaper at a pet store. It generally comes in rolls and has some sort of natural habitat printed on it. You can tape this to the outside of the back of the terrarium. I would recommend this. It gives your skinks a little more privacy and looks a lot better then just having a wall against the glass.

I know that some people choose to use bark in the terrarium, they even use it at some pet stores. Trust me when I say that this is a terrible idea. I know from experience that your skink will be much happier in sand. Berber skins are native to sandy areas and bark is unnecessarily pokey. They have a much easier time burying in the sand, which is something this type of skink enjoys doing. If you want them to feel natural and comfortable use a semi thick sand. Be sure the sand isn't too fine or it may get into their ear slots. This sand can be purchased at pet stores or in larger amounts at home depot. If you buy sand from home depot make sure to rinse it out first. The easiest way to do this is to spread it out on a thin sheet, spray it with a hose, and leave it in the sun to dry.

You'll want to layer the sand evenly around the cage about 3 inches up the sides. This will give them plenty of room to bury.

Warning: If you have any cats, keep them away form this cage. If they jump to sit on top, which they often do, the wire could collapse. I've had this happen to me and it was horrifying. The wire collapsed under a cat and the skinks crawled up the broken wire. They spent the entire day in a house with 5 cats. I'm very thankful they survived but it did take me about 2 hours to find them both.

Good Tank Setup Example

Shelters and Climbers

There are many different shelters available for reptiles. Almost all of these will be fine for your skink as long as they can fit in it. My skinks seem to especially enjoy the half log houses sold at most pet stores. I also got them a fake rock type shelter that they can sit on to bask or go inside to sleep. Don't worry too much about what shelter you choose though. Berber Skinks are not to picky.

For your skink you will need to get some sort of large climber that can reach close to the lamp at the top of the cage. They will use this often to heat up. My favorite so far has been the climber made from four or five wooden logs nailed together. It looks more natural and provides a few different levels/places to bask on. Be sure it is stable and will not fall onto your skink.

In the cage you may also place some of those fake plants they sell at pet stores. This is purely for aesthetic value as skinks really just don't care. Make sure the plants aren't too pointy and you're good.

It's also fine to add those cute little structures they sell for fish tanks. Again, your skink probably wont care but a hot pink skull in their terrarium will definitely up the bada** factor.

Food

The most common source of your skinks food should be live crickets and mealworms. They also enjoy waxworms as a treat. To create a balanced diet be sure to give them fruits and vegetables about once a week. Some skinks are very picky when it comes to fruits and vegetables so don't be discouraged if they won't eat the first thing you put in front of them. They can be fed bananas, apples, grapes, carrots, mango, and boiled eggs. My skinks especially love boiled eggs so I highly recommend giving them a try. Be sure to cut this food up into pieces small enough for them to swallow.

You should feed your skinks 2-3 times a week. Always keep clean water in the cage. Water can be put into a shallow ceramic bowl. The dish does not necessarily have to be ceramic but other types may not be as easy to clean. The bowl should be big enough for them to crawl into as resting in water helps them shed.

Heat and Lighting

Your heat lamp should only heat one half of the cage directly, in order to create a warm side and a cool side. It is very important to allow your skink an area to cool off in.

Daytime temperatures should be kept at around 80 degrees fahrenheit. Nighttime temperatures should never be allowed to drop below 65 degrees fahrenheit.

You will need to purchase a UVB lighting system. The day light bulb may be around 100 watts but you should always adjust the wattage according to their temperature requirements. Night bulbs may be around that same amount but it all depends on where you live. The best light system I've found is the type that holds both day and night bulbs and rests on top of the cage. You will need to remember to turn off the day light and on the night light every night and vice versa in the morning.

You will also need to get a thermometer for the cage. The cheapest and simplest ones are the kind that sick to the wall of a terrarium. These should be placed at about sand level.

I do not recommend a heating or basking rock. Both of these things are unnecessary for Berber Skinks and can potentially harm them. Your skinks can burn themselves or get stuck under either of these rocks.

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