Skinks are the most frequently encountered of our reptiles. They are often glimpsed in gardens running for cover and are often referred to as the "common garden skink". But there is nothing common about the ca. 50 endemic species, which have a regionalised distribution. They vary in colours and size, the longest skink attaining a length of 350 mm (including tail). Skinks are highly alert animals, with an exceptional sense of smell, hearing, and sight. Some are vocal, producing small sqeek-like noises. All but one species are live-bearers, producing 1 - 8 miniture replicates of the adults. They are good climbers, despite their relatively small limbs and large bodies. Skinks have been observed head-bobbing and quivering their tails at eachother when excited. They are also good swimmers. The Australian rainbow skink (Lampropholis delicata) somehow made its way across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand around the 1960's. Despite its small size (snout vent 40-55 mm or ca. 100 mm including the tail), it is thriving and is increasing in both numbers and range. It is the only exotic lizard to have become established in New Zealand. It is no longer protected under the Wildlife Act, and is now regarded as an "Unwanted Organism" by the Ministry of Primary Industries (previously MAF).
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All New Zealand skinks are now classified in the genus Oligosoma. We will retain the keyword Cyclodina for those still unfamiliar with the new nomenclature.
Cyclodina Recovery Plan