• Gareth Pritchard

Beautiful Berbers

For those of you that don't know me, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Gareth and I am an aspiring reptile breeder. My main focus has been Royal/Ball Pythons (Python regius) and I've been steadily growing my business under the Powys Pythons name. However, there have been a few ideas of side projects brewing in the background and since constructing my own purpose built "snake shed" I thought it time to make a fresh start with a fresh project.

I've chosen Berber/Schneider Skinks (Eumeces schneiderii).

I've kept them before, many years ago, and whilst refreshing my memory I read how they can be a challenge to get breeding in captivity. That sealed the deal for me. I LOVE a challenge.

Now let me start by saying that I by no means consider myself to be an expert when it comes to this species. Far from it! If anything, I would class myself as a total novice. I have the basic care down and I am now on a journey of discovery as I learn more about these beautiful, totally overlooked lizards.

I also love talking about my interests and things that excite me so have decided to start a blog chronicling this journey. Whether you're a novice, like me, or someone that's been keeping them for years, I'd love your feedback and advice should you chose to share it.

The beginning

Five days ago my Berbers arrived. To the best of my knowledge I have a male and two females.

I've read it's difficult to be sure of sexes without probing the animals but there are visual clues. These are not 100% definitive prove of sex however. If mine are following the visual clues then it does indeed look like I have the desired trio. The male (assuming he is male) is a lot brighter in colour than the two females.

The set-up

I have them set up in a 48"x18"x18" vivarium with 10% UV, currently on for 14 hours a day. Alongside this I run a 50w basking light on a dimmer stat and have provided a deep substrate of children's play sand for them to burrow in. They also have a large hide on the cool end and a large branch to climb should they so desire.

"But wait! Where's your ambient heat source?" I hear you cry.

Fear not, I do not use a CHE or any other heating equipment in the viv for one very good reason. My entire "snake shed" is running at an ambient temperature of around 87/88°f at the level their viv is situated. No need for any additional heat except for the basking light to provide a basking area of about 100°f. I check my temperatures several times throughout the day and am very confident I am providing a stable environment.

General care

I provide fresh water every morning. Whilst performing morning spot cleaning I check to see if there are any uneaten crickets present. So far I've only come across one, hiding under the water bowl which was quickly snapped up so I offer crickets daily also. Twice a week I provide a bowl of fresh fruit and leafy greens dusted in calcium powder.

On a Sunday I give them a treat and they get a bowl of high quality, low fat cat food.

Any leftover food is removed at the end of the day when evening spot cleaning is being performed.

Their temperament

These little beasts are dog tame. No word of a lie. I put my hand in the viv and they'll readily climb onto my hand, crawl up my arm and sit on my shoulder. When they're ready they crawl back down my arm of their own accord and back into their viv. They even seem to enjoy a bit of a head scratch. Although they're quite active lizards, they're very calm and docile when being handled.

Initial thoughts

Berber Skinks are a perfect beginner species that is highly overlooked in the hobby. They're very pretty, a decent size, easy to handle and very easy to care for. You can lose hours watching them mooching around their viv. I'd recommend them to anyone starting out in the hobby and those that have been keeping lizards for years and looking for something new.

The future

I plan to add a bit more decor to their viv and a bit more variety in their diet while doing as much research into their natural habitat as I can. Hopefully by mimicking how they live in the wild I will convince them to breed and successfully hatch a clutch or two in the not too distant future. In the meantime I hope to post to this blog as often as possible so if you've enjoyed what you've read (if anyone reads this), do continue to follow the goings on and thanks for your time 😊

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