I have a new fire skink. i've just moved it into a large terrarium and it's been burrowed for a while now. how do you

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Customer: i have a new fire skink. i've just moved it into a large terrarium and it's been burrowed for a while now. how do you feed a skink who is hiding most of the time without digging for it and stressing it?
Answered by Jav917 in 21 mins 5 years ago
Pet Specialist

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Specialities include: Reptile Veterinary, Herp Veterinary, Exotic Animal Medicine, Amphibian Veterinary


My name is ***** ***** I have been a Vet tech for 30+ years with special interest in Reptiles and reptile Rescue.

How long has he been in new enclosure?

What are your temps in the enclosure in basking area, ambient and cool side?

Do you have a UVB light as a well as a basking light?

Diet you are feeding and how often?



Hi Joan -Thanks for your help. Zuko was purchased December 14th and was in a smaller terrarium and eating quite well. He is a wild caught and is usually quite shy. I had to dig him out to feed him every second day. He ate quite a bit (at least 5 small crickets AND 3-5 mealworms AND 1-2 superworms). I found 1 poop on the surface of the substrate.To answer your questions:- I moved him January 1st to a much larger terrarium.- Basking area temp is between 90-85F, ambient 80F and cool side 70F. These are all approximate as I've been adjusting and trying for 95-90F basking, ambient 85F and cool side 70F. using digitla and analog thermometers and hygrometers.- Yes basking light has UVA and UVB and i have a second light providing UVB.- I feed him crickets, mealworms and superworms. I have not fed him any crickets since the move and have been leaving out bowls of worms for him (he may have has 5 mealworms on Jan. 2nd (or they escaped). He has not eaten since.- every third feed was dusted with calcium and vitamin supplements.Thanks!dt
Because it is a new home for him, I don't want to needlessly stress him out by digging for him every few days to feed him crickets.I have a camera on him to pick up any movement but I haven't seen him in days...
The picture is his latest (in old enclosure).

Thank-you. When moving into a new habitat, Skinks can take some time to adjust. This is normal. My concern is the transfer to the new habitat may have stressed him a bit and that is why he is dug in. The temps right now are also a bit low which could be a part of the issue. Now the key will be to get the enclosure to temperature and allow him to adapt. The feeding should be every 3 days and calcium at every feeding to prevent Metabolic Bone Disease.

Skinks are opportunistic feeder so having the prey active within the tank may be helpful. I would try Dubia roaches as well as the crickets which are more likely to get his attention.

At some point I recommend a Herp Vet visit since he is wild caught a Fecal should be done, since wild caught Reptile generally carry a higher parasite load.

Nice Habitat set up. At this point I would gently remove the substrate to get to him and offer some active prey. If hungry he should go for them. If he doesn't then a Herp Vet visit may be wise. If you need a Herp Vet I can locate some with your location.

Please hit reply to discuss this information.


Thanks!So...- get the temperatures up. What temps do you recommend? 95-88-75? I've read a lot online and they range. I forgot to mention he has a under tank heating mat as well. Also, I live in Canada and it's currently winter (-10C...for now).- find him (gently), and feed him. change from every 2nd day to every 3rd day. dust every time. feed as much as he'll eat? never leave live prey (crickets and roaches) in the tank, right? the worms are in a bowl and can't escape into the substrate.- try dubia roaches- see herp vet when possibleis that everything? thanks!
what is the best way to measure temperatures across the tank? how do you measure terrarium temp and humidity in the substrate?

Basking are I suggest 95*, the ambient temps in the enclosure 86*, and cool side 76*. This should offer a good temperature gradient. I like a digital probe thermometer or best is a temp gun which allows you to measure all temps with no fuss or muss.

Never leave prey in tank, that is correct. Pery will feed on the host in the tank.

Dubia roaches, silk worms, Phoenix worms are all good feeders, but for active prey dubia roaches and crickets are great.

A fecal would be wise along with a Vet check. I can locate some fir you with a State.

If I have addressed all your concerns, please take a moment to rate my service 5 stars.


Hi Denis,
I'm just following up on our conversation about Zuko. How is everything going?
Hi Joan -Thanks for your help. I made the adjustments you suggested and then dug him out. He seemed a little bit paler but ate enthusiastically. Then he quickly hid himself again. I think I might be stressing him out by digging him out to feed him all the time. I've left out a bowl of worms but I'm worried about getting the crickets to him. How can I feed him (dusted) crickets without stressing him out and digging for him?

From what you have described it sounds like he is hibernating/Brumating rather just hiding, If this is the case when the the temps go up he will be out and back to normal. I would get a weaight once a week and if all good and no loss allow him back int his burrow, but if weight loss then a Herp Vet visit will be needed


temperatures are tricky. i have a gradient of 95F basking to 75F nighttime. what temperature triggers brumation?

It is not the temps inside, but the seasonal changes outside that seem to be triggering this year. Since It is wild caught, the seasons may be more imprinted in them. I am seeing this a lot this wear with all reptiles.


are you suggesting i dig him out weekly for a weigh? nothing i can do to break him out of the instinct? worried about how long winter is here...Thanks!

Your Tank temps are great and conditions perfect. This seems self imposed brumation. The fact he did eat when was out is good. I am afraid the only thing we can do is dig him out at this point. It may be wise to have him seen by a Herp Vet to be sure no parasites, that may be adding to him wanting to go under. I am always concerned with wild caught Lizards.


thanks for your concern. I'll try and catch him moving around the tank for a few more days before i try and dig him out again. looking for a herp vet in the area now...

Please supply your location and I can give you a list.


Ottawa, Ontario Canada

These are the Herp Vets I have in Ontario area: http://www.triciaswaterdragon.com/canrepvt.htm#ont

Please keep me updated.


noticed my temperatures have dropped a bit (5F) on the cold end of the enclosure. left out a bowl of worms and they've seen no action all day. i'll be digging for him tomorrow (1 week since i last saw and fed him)...
caught him on camera!

Great tank set up. You are doing the best you can and hopefully will eat for you.


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