Metallic Skink

Metallic Skink
Copyright:Alex Dudley

The Metallic skink (Niveoscincus metallicus) is the most common and widespread lizard found in Tasmania. Metallic skinks vary tremendously in colour and pattern and give birth to live young. They are the most common "garden skink" in Tasmania.


This species is highly variable skink and may prove to be a complex of closely related species. The head is barely distinct from the neck. The colour pattern is highly variable, and there are regional differences in glossiness and body proportions. A striped form occurs in the west and south west of the State which is lightly built with a series of distinct longitudinal stripes dorsally and a prominent midlateral stripe. The frontoparietal scales are fused to form a single shield. Metallic skinks are born with a head and body length of about 28 mm, mature at about 42 mm and reach a head and body length of about 66 mm. Many Metallic skinks have a ventral colour of metallic rose to deep orange. This colour may be found on most but not all specimens of both sexes. Midbody scales are in 28 rows or less. There are usually six wide, moderately to strongly keeled scale rows across the middle of the back.


This common species occupies a wide variety of habitats including dry sclerophyll forests, dense forest and alpine heath. Metallic skinks generally shelter in dense vegetation and ground debris, beneath bark, leaf litter, rocks, logs and log fragments. This is the common "Garden skink" in Tasmania, and in suburban gardens this species may occur in large numbers. In high altitudes Metallic skinks rarely venture far from cover including vegetation, damp soil or thick litter.


Metallic Skink
Copyright: Alex Dudley​

A live bearing species which produces up to eight young, depending to an extent on the size of the parent female. As in many Tasmanian skinks, females store sperm in the oviducts over winter after mating in autumn. Fertilization occurs in the following spring and the young are born in the following summer. Females have a placenta so nutrient transfer takes place between the parent and the developing embryos. Females mature when they have a head and body length of 42-44 mm.


Statewide; The Metallic skink h​as also been recorded from many offshore Islands, including: Actaeon Is., Albatross Is., Babel Is., Badger Is., Bayne Is., Big Green Is., Black Pyramid, Boxen Is., Bruny Is., Cape Barren Is., Chalky Is., Cone Is., Craggy Is., Curtiss Is., Deal Is., Devils Tower, De Witt Is., Doughboy Is., East Forster Is., East Hogan Is., East Kangaroo Is., East Moncouer Is., Erith Is., Fisher Is., Flinders Is., Flat (Mutton Bird) Is., George Rks., Goose Is., Great Dog Is., Gull Is., Hen Is., Hippolyte Rks, Hogan Is., Hunter Is., Ile du Golfe,Isabella Is., Isle of Caves, Judgement Rks., King Is., Little Anderson Is., Little Chalky Is., Little Dog Is., Little Goose Is., Little Swan Is., Long Is., Low Islets, Maatsuyker Is., Maclean Is., Maria Is., Mount Chappell Is., Needle Rks, North East Is., The Nuggets, Passage Is., Preservation Is., Prime Seal Is., Rhodondo Is., Round Islet, Round Top Is., Roydon Is., Schouten Is., Sentinel Is., Southport Is., South West Is., Steep Is., Sterile Is., St Helen Is., Storehouse Is., Swan Is., Tasman Is., The Thumbs, Trefoil Is., Vansittart Is., Visscher Is., Waterhouse Is., West Forster Is., West Moncouer Is. and Wybalena Island. Metallic skinks also occur in Victoria.




This species is secure, but further work is needed to assess the impact that the introduced Superb Lyrebird (Menura superba) has on this species in forested areas. Domestic and feral cats kill many of these lizards. There has been very little comparative work done on island populations of lizards in Tasmania, and further research may well reveal new species presently catalogued under Niveoscincus metallicus.

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