The Skinks in Your Garden

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Photo: Suzi Duncan

Article by Suzi Duncan from Eden Park

I have large numbers of skinks of all sizes on my rural property. In particular, there are two specific areas, one quite small, that are designated areas for frogs and reptiles.

This gives me many opportunities to observe the behaviour of the resident skinks. Their behaviour can range from comical and curious to timid and even very aggressive. The aggression can be within a species or between species.

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Photo: Suzi Duncan

Many of them are so curious that if you sit down they will actually come out just to check you out. A Grass Skink (Lampropholis guichenoti) walked up on my hand while I was sitting on the ground. Or if you put your finger near to where they are peeping out from a gap in old sleepers, they will come and touch your finger. They become very used to having a camera put right up close to them. They also love nothing better than to literally “kick back” and sunbake. If it is a cold but sunny day then it is a just a matter of finding a notch in an old piece of wood, especially an old sleeper, and kicking back in that protected spot  to absorb the warmth. You will also see two lying beside each other, one of them with an arm (sorry leg) on the other.

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Photo: Suzi Duncan

In the late afternoon they spend their time in a notch or crack in wood with just their head showing.

They never cease to amaze with how fast they can move and how high or far they can jump, especially when it means catching a small moth to eat.

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Photo: Suzi Duncan

On the other hand these beautiful gentle critters can fight so aggressively that you would be certain that neither one could survive. When it comes to aggression, size does not come into it. If a smaller skink wants to attack a larger one then it will approach from the rear run up the back of the larger skink and attack from that position.

Last week I observed a skink carrying another skink of similar size in it’s mouth. Going on the limpness and the eyes of the skink being carried, I am guessing it was dead.

On the weekend I observed yet a new behaviour. One skink was paddling/waving its back legs in the air above its body, while being watched by another similar sized skink. This behaviour went on for a good five minutes. I have not been able to determine what this behaviour meant.

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Photo: Suzi Duncan

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