Authored by Tom Williams
Schneider or Berber Skinks
So I wanted to start a small series of posts that focus on the natural habitat of many of the species that we keep in captivity. Knowing how our pets live in the wild can be important to their health and well-being and mimicking their natural habitats as closely as possible is not only rewarding but also a great way of learning more about the world. Obviously not everyone wants to keep their animals in naturalistic vivariums or set ups and this is perfectly understandable, I’ve been there myself and understand that if you keep pets on a large-scale or breed your pets then this may not be practical. For those who do I hope these guides help.
Berber Skink- Eumeces schneideri
I thought I would kick off with the Berber Skink, not only because I think they make awesome pets but they have quite a large natural range that has very similar climatic conditions. Berber Skinks are a medium to large skink growing to sizes of 30 cm total length. They have a range quite large from Tunisia and Algeria in North Africa right across to Tajikistan in Central Asia.
The Koppen-Geiger Climate Classification uses average annual, monthly temperatures and precipitation to determine the climate of specific areas of the world and can be used to determine the type of land and climate in which and animals range may fall. Several different classifications exists and 90% of the Berber skinks natural habitat is classed as being within the BWh range. This is an area that exhibits hot, arid desert land that is too dry to sustain any vegetation apart from sparse shrubbery. Some of the range falls into the BSh classification which experiences a slight increase in annual precipitation. Summer temperatures between April and September range from between 20.5 centigrade to 30.0 centigrade and can drop to as low as 10 centigrade in winter, although there is no need to replicate this low temperature in the vivarium. A winter cooling to around 18 centigrade is fine. Wild Berber Skinks would experience a long hot summer with very little rainfall. Most of the rainfall across their range falling between November and March and most areas in the BWh range will experience less than 250mm of rain per year, some areas experiencing non at all.
Most of the Berber Skinks habitat is found on stoney, semi desert regions of hard compacted ground scattered with sandy deposits. Berber Skinks will be seen basking on larger rocks and boulders and this can be replicated in the vivarium. As a substrate a mixture of clean sand and orchid bark or eco-earth type substrates work great. Plants that would be found in these semi arid areas would be mostly xerophytic plants, those that have developed to require little moisture such as succulents and cacti species. Due to the digging capabilities of these skinks I would advise using artificial plants in the vivarium.
This is not in any ways a complete care guide to Eumeces schneideri, it is simply a quick look at the wild habitat and geographic distribution of the Berber Skink. Lots more information can be found about the captive care of these skinks and we would always recommend that several care guides and books are read before purchasing any animal.