The fire skink's vividly colored scales don’t offer clues regarding gender -- both males and females have distinctive yellow backs and checkered red, black and white flanks. A few slightly less obvious clues can help you make a fairly good guess whether you have a female or a male, but you probably won’t know for sure unless they breed or you take them to a vet who specializes in reptiles.
Compare your fire skinks' sizes, if you have more than one and they are mature. Males tend to be larger than females. If you have only one skink, or you have more than one but they are the same size, measuring them from the tip of the head to the tip of the tail provides a clue. A skink more than 13 inches long is probably a male. One less than 11 inches is more likely to be a female or a juvenile. However, individuals vary widely so this will provide nothing more than a hint as to gender.
Examine the skinks’ heads closely. Males sometimes have slightly larger, bulkier heads than females.
Observe their behavior. The males are noticeably more aggressive than the females. If you see two skinks fighting, they are probably both boys. They will need separate tanks.
Compare the coloration of the skinks, both to each other and to as many images of the species as you feel like downloading to your computer. While male and female markings do not differ, the males' colors tend to be brighter.
- The best combination for keeping multiple fire skinks is two or more females: As noted, two males are liable to fight, while a male/female pair must be separated outside the breeding season. If you are not certain of your skinks' genders, play it safe and provide separate tanks.
- To find a vet with reptile expertise, ask associates of a reptile club, an animal sanctuary or a zoo for a recommendation.
Judith Willson has been writing since 2009, specializing in environmental and scientific topics. She has written content for school websites and worked for a Glasgow newspaper. Willson has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.