She-oak Skink

She-oak skink
Copyright:
Alex Dudley
She-oak skink on rock

The She-oak skink (Cyclodomorphus casuarinae) is a distinctive lizard with short limbs and a long, snake-like body. Despite being found over most of Tasmania it is not often seen, as it shelters amongst dense, low vegetation.

Description

The She-oak skink is unlikely to be mistaken for any other Tasmanian lizard. It is a large snake-like skink with short legs and a long, tapering tail. The head is barely distinct from the neck. She-oak skinks are extremely variable in both colour and pattern, usually being a pale to dark brown above, with individual dark scales often forming narrow bands across the body. Occasionally, completely black specimens are found. Juvenile specimens are often strongly banded and when born, have a head and body length of about 42 mm with a tail length of about 63% of the head and body length. As they grow the tail gets proportionately longer and a large adult with a head and body length of 174 mm may have a tail 231 mm in length. Mid-body scales are in 22-26 parallel rows.

Black She-oak skink
Copyright:
Alex Dudley
Black She-oak skink

Ecology

The snake-like shape of these large skinks is used to their advantage during threat displays, when the front legs are pressed along the body and the tongue is flicked rapidly. This elusive species usually shelters in low dense vegetation (such as occurs on buttongrass plains) and is of secretive habits. Long-lived, a specimen is known to have lived in captivity for seven years. The preferred minimum body temperature at which this species will be active is 27.1oC. If the She-oak skinks' body temperature rises above 39oC it will seek shelter. Through alternately basking or moving into shade a body temperature of around 32.6oC is usually maintained while active.

Juvenile She-oak skink
Copyright:
Alex Dudley
Juvenile She-oak skink

Breeding

She-oak skinks mate in spring and young are born live in February. Larger females tend to give birth to more young, with a record of 18 babies produced by a She-oak skink with a head and body length of 16 cm.

Distribution

Until recently this species was though to occur on mainland Australia, but recent research has shown that the mainland populations are different species and that the She-oak skink is found only in Tasmania. She-oak skinks are found widely across the state wherever suitable habitat occurs. This species has been recorded from Schouten Island. The original description of this species is based on a specimen from Bruny Island.

Status

Secure.

Threats

A major threat is loss of habitat through changes in fire frequency since European settlement. She-oak skinks are preyed on by cats and almost certainly by introduced Laughing Kookaburras. She-oak skinks are occasionally mistaken for snakes and killed by people.


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