Confined to Tasmania, the Northern Snow skink (Niveoscincus greeni
) lives in alpine areas where it forages for insects amongst boulder fields and on rock faces. Like most Tasmanian lizards, Northern Snow skinks give birth to live young.
The Northern Snow skink is dark above, each dorsal scale with a pale greenish to bronze spot. These spots often form narrow pale stripes along the body. The head is paler, generally patterned with darker spots. Northern Snow skinks have a head and body length of 30-75 mm. The midbody scales are in 40-44 rows around the body.
This is an alpine species restricted to isolated populations at high altitudes. Northern Snow skinks occupy rocky habitats where they bask and forage on rock faces and scree slopes, sheltering in rock crevices. These skinks are often but not always found close to mountain streams, where they will occasionally enter water and hide beneath a submerged rock if threatened.
Northern Snow skinks are usually content to sit and wait until prey passes by, although individuals have been observed actively foraging for distances of 25 meters. This lizard is capable of raising its body temperature well above that of the air temperature. Differences between body temperature and air temperature as great as 14°C have been recorded. Northern Snow skinks have a preferred body temperature of 28.9°C.
Like all alpine skinks in Tasmania, the Northern Snow skink is live bearing, producing 2-4 young in March, usually only every two years. Females store sperm in the oviducts over winter until fertilisation of eggs occurs within the body in spring. Northern Snow skinks reach maturity when they have a head and body length of about 54 mm.
This endemic Tasmanian species is widespread across the higher areas of the Central Plateau, Ben Lomond National Park and Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park.
Global warming could threaten Northern Snow skinks and many other alpine species.