Scree skink (Oligosoma waimatense)

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassReptilia
OrderSquamata
FamilyScincidae
GenusOligosoma (1)
SizeSnout-vent length: 95 mm (2)

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

Like other skinks, the scree skink has an elongate body covered in smooth, glossy scales, a narrow head and small eyes (3) (4). The scales are greyish-white, with black blotches forming bands across the body. The grey, or orange-pink, belly tends to be unmarked, but the chin and throat are sometimes speckled with black (2).

The scree skink is endemic to the South Island of New Zealand where it occurs in a band running along the Southern Alps from Marlborough to northern Otago (2).

Almost all the known populations of scree skink are found amongst, or near, unstable greywacke screes (2) (5).

The scree skink is diurnal and heavily reliant on the sun for raising its body temperature. Accordingly, it is often seen basking on exposed rocks in clear view. Like other New Zealand skinks, it is an omnivorous species, with berries, invertebrates and even other skinks known to feature in its diet (2) (4).

The scree skink gives birth to fully-formed young, which are similar in appearance to the adults (2) (4).

The primary threats to New Zealand skinks are habitat loss and predation by introduced mammals such as cats, ferrets, stoats, weasels, hedgehogs, rats and mice (4). The scree skink population is thought to gradually declining and consequently is classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List (1) (6).

There are currently no known conservation measures in place for the scree skink.

To find out more about New Zealand’s reptiles see:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

  1. IUCN Red List (October, 2008)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Patterson, G.B. (1997) South Island skinks of the genus Oligosoma: description of O. longipes n.sp. with redescription of O. otagense (McCann) and O. waimatense (McCann). Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 27: 439 - 450.
  3. Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  4. Department of Conservation. (2006) Skinks and Geckos Factsheet. Department of Conservation, Christchurch. Available at:
    http://www.doc.govt.nz/upload/documents/about-doc/concessions-and-permits/conservation-revealed/skinks-geckos-lowres.pdf
  5. Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand (February, 2008)
    http://www.teara.govt.nz/TheBush/FishFrogsAndReptiles/Lizards/3/en
  6. Hitchmough, R., Bull, L. and Cromarty, P. (2007) New Zealand threat classification system lists 2005. New Zealand Department of Conservation, Wellington.