The Spotted skink (Niveoscincus ocellatus
) is usually found in rocky areas where it shelters in crevices and beneath rock slabs. This attractive species is only found in Tasmania and gives birth to live young.
The Spotted skink is a flattish lizard with a distinctive pattern of pale centred dark spots on the sides and an irregular pattern of spots and bars aligned across the back. The background colour varies from pale coppery brown to dark charcoal grey, with darker specimens usually found at higher altitudes. Spotted skinks have a head and body length of 34-74 mm. Specimens from higher altitudes are as much as a third larger than those from coastal environments. The small midbody scales are in 45-58 rows. The most similar species is the
Northern Snow skink, which usually has a pattern of small spots running lengthways along the back. The Spotted skink is unlikely to be confused with any other species.
A ground dwelling species which usually occupies rocky habitats where it lives beneath slabs and within crevices. In north-eastern Tasmania, Spotted skinks may also live in sandy habitats where they shelter beneath log fragments and forage amongst fallen trees. Spotted skinks occupy a broad variety of rocky environments from coastal rock shelves to subalpine boulder fields and scree slopes. On Mt. Wellington near Hobart it has been found sharing its habitat with the Southern Snow skink. As well as feeding on a wide variety of invertebrate prey, this species has been observed feeding on berries of the alpine heath Cyathodes. Ocellated skinks almost certainly hibernate over winter.
The Spotted skink, like all endemic Tasmanian species, is live bearing. Female Spotted skinks usually breed every year. Mating occurs mainly in autumn (late March/early April) and early Spring. Females store sperm in the oviducts before ovulation occurs in Spring (later in high altitude populations). Embryos develop by means of a placenta (viviparous) with a gestation period of 14-16 weeks. Usually from 1-6 young are born in January or February, depending on the climate over Summer. Larger female Spotted skinks have more young. Females become mature when they reach a head and body length of 58 mm, males at about 54 mm.
An endemic Tasmanian species widespread throughout Northern and Eastern parts of the State, occurring from sea level to altitudes well over 1000 m. Spotted skinks have been recorded from the following offshore Islands: Badger Is., Betsy Is., Flinders Is., Goose Is., Great dog Is., Little Anderson Is., Long Is., Mount Chappel Is., Preservation Is., Maria Is., St Helens Is., Schouten Is., Tasman Is and Waterhouse Island.
Habitat destruction, particularly removal of rock slabs, and in more urban areas, predation by cats.