Did You Know – Skink

Check out this weeks factsheet on Typical Skinks – Trachylepis (Mabuya).

-Skink  -Genus: Trachylepis   -Description: Genus of 23 species of skink that are similar in appearance, i.e. body shape. All lizards within this genus have fairly shiny scales, large eyes with movable eyelids and well developed legs. -Size: The largest species are approximately 120mm and the smallest approximately 55m in length. -Tail length: Usually the same as body length however the grass-top skink has a tail that is over twice its body length. -Behaviour: Active by day. Tend to bask in very open positions and do not run away till you get quite close to them. -Food: active foragers of insects such as beetles, grasshoppers and flies. Skinks will also bask in strategic positions that allow their food to come close to them. Some, e.g. the rainbow skink will even eat the young of smaller lizard species. -Predators: Preyed upon by many, the skink uses a method called tail autotomy to help it escape. This means that their tails shed/fall off to distract the predator from its skink prey. Many skinks have a brightly coloured tail to maximise their chances of escape, e.g. the rainbow skink and Angolan blue-tailed skink have bright blue tails. -Social structure: Skinks tend to be found in high density. This causes interaction with fighting of posturing to intimidate eachother for the best basking sites. -Habitat: Can be arboreal, terrestrial or rock dwelling. Skinks are usually able to live in a variety of habitats, however the wedge-snouted skink is restricted to sand dunes and arid scrublands. -Reproduction: Varies even among the same species- their have been recorded cases of certain populations of variable skink (pictured) giving birth to live young, but another population of the same skink will instead lay eggs. -Distribution: Widespread and common, however most species occur in the northern parts of southern Africa. -Did You Know: After shedding its tail a skink will often return and eat it.

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