Key to Identifying Snow Skinks

Montane skink from the Hartz Range
Copyright:
Alex Dudley
Montane skink from the Hartz Range
The Snow skinks of the genus Niveoscincus can appear remarkably similar. With the exception of Niveoscincus coventryi which occurs in Victoria and Southern NSW, all species are found in Tasmania. The taxonomy of this group has yet to be finalized and further taxonomic work will probably reveal new species.

The Pedra Branca skink has not been included in this key, as it is only found on Pedra Branca and is unlikely to be accidentally encountered. Alpine and subalpine skinks from the far south of Tasmania can be very difficult to identify and there may be some hybridization occurring in some regions.

To use this key, start at the beginning (1a) and read both sets of each couplet to make a decision. The information is cumulative, so if you do not start at the beginning and work your way through, you risk misidentifying the lizard.

Key to identifying the Genus Niveoscincus

1a.Six wide scales across the flat of the back: Metallic Skink.
1b.More than six scales across the flat of the back: Go to 2.

2a.Pattern consisting of a pale bronze or green spot on each scale on the back, often forming narrow, longitudinal stripes, without any indication of a vertebral or midlateral stripe: Northern Snow skink.
2b.Other patterns: Go to 3.

3a.Pale centred dark spots on flanks, no indication of longitudinal striping on body. Pattern on the back crossways rather than lengthways: Spotted skink.
3b.No pale centred dark spots on flanks, usually a dark upper lateral zone. Go to 4.

4a.Vertebral stripe and some indication of white midlateral stripe present on flanks: Go to 5.
4b.No indication of a white midlateral stripe. Vertebral stripe, if present, no wider than one scale width. Southern and western Tasmania. Southern Snow skink.

5a.Black stripe running from side of snout along the flanks, bordered below by a ragged edged white midlateral stripe. White flecks present on back. Tasmanian tree skink.
5b.Some indication of both a white midlateral stripe and a narrow dark vertebral stripe, no pale flecks on back. Found in alpine and sub-alpine south and south-west Tasmania. Mountain skink.

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