Sunday, May 15, 2011

Here's a quick skink update. First, dig the red/orange coloration on the head. The heads of male five-lined skinks (Eumeces fasciatus) flush red in the breeding season. A friend's mother connected me with a nature center where she volunteers, and I hope to ferry the little guy out there soon.

In the meantime, he's been a fun guest. We've developed a morning routine: I spray down the sides of the tank to give him something to drink (apparently captive skinks don't immediately comprehend water dishes) and every-other day I leave him some mealworms in the old peanut butter jar lid. He waits five minutes and then pops out of the shredded paper to lap up the water, snap up the mealworms, and bask for a while.

The whole experience reminds me of the value of temporarily captive critters. However opposed I am to the pet trade, I do think it's a great idea for kids and older naturalists to keep something they've found for a short period of time to observe it more closely in captivity. As long as it's a common species, you meet its short-term needs while you're hosting it, and you take care to avoid any disease transmission (bleach the hell out of everything and keep it separate from any other critters you keep) it's a great way to gain a deeper understanding of animals you usually only see in flashes and glimpses.

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