Skinks

The Robust Ctenotus (Ctenotus robustus) The Robust Ctenotus, Ctenotus robustus, a widespread, fast-moving skink. Robust Rainbow Skink (Carlia schmeltzii) The Robust Rainbow Skink, Carlia schmeltzii, an inhabitant of rocky ranges and scree slopes. Verreaux's Skink (Anomalopus verreauxii) Verreaux's Skink, Anomalopus verreauxii, a common species with reduced limbs that is sometimes mistaken for a snake.Skinks (family Scincidae) are the largest and most diverse family of lizards. They range in size from the tiny Menetia sadlieri (body length 22 mm) to the impressively robust Common Blue-tongue, Tiliqua scincoides (body length 320 mm); 202 species occur in Queensland.

Because of their diversity, they are difficult to define. Most have smooth, shiny, overlapping body scales and large symmetrical head scales. They have broad fleshy tongues, most have four legs with five fingers and toes and most have moveable eyelids. They are active, fast-moving lizards that bask to heat their bodies and retreat rapidly when approached.

There are, however, many exceptions to this general plan. Many Rainbow Skinks (Carlia spp.) have keeled body scales and some Egernia (Cunningham's Skink, E. cunninghami and the Pygmy Spiny-tailed Skink, E. depressa) are positively spiny. The snake-eyed Skinks (Cryptoblepharus spp.) have lost their movable eyelids and some skinks have small, reduced limbs with few digits (Anomalopus spp., Coeranoscincus spp., Coggeria naufragus, Saiphos equalisand Lerista spp.) or no limbs at all (Lerista ameles). The reduce-limbed forms have elongated bodies and have shifted to a burrowing lifestyle – feeding on small invertebrates in leaf-litter, loose soil or sand.

There are diurnal and nocturnal skinks. Most species feed on small insects, one feeds on earthworms (Coeranoscincus reticulatus) and another on fungus (Egernia major). Frog eggs have been found in the gut of Tryon's Skink (Eulamprus tryoni) from the high mountain ranges of south-east Queensland.

There are live-bearing skinks (Cyclodomorphus spp., Egernia spp., Eulamprus spp. and Tiliqua spp.) and egg-layers. In some species (Carlia spp.) the males develop bold colours during the breeding season. Male Carlia jarnoldae have dark upper flanks, adorned with small blue spots, contrasting sharply with bright orange lower flanks. In Carlia rhomboidalis this pattern consists of an electric blue chin contrasting with a bright red throat.

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