Wednesday 22 May
Small-scaled skink (Oligosoma microlepis)
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Small-scaled skink fact file
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Small-scaled skink description
As its name suggests, the elongate body of the small-scaled skink is covered in relatively small, glossy scales (2) (3). The background colour to the upperparts of the body is brownish grey, but a series of stripes extend lengthways from the snout towards the tail. Running down the middle of the back are consecutive segments of light and dark brown, adjoined on either side by a conspicuous pale stripe. A dark brown stripe, speckled above and below with pale markings, extends along the sides, while the belly is pale all over (2).
- Max snout-vent length: 67 mm (2)
Small-scaled skink biology
Very little is known about the biology of the small-scaled skink other than it is an active diurnal forager (2) (4). In captivity, it will consume a wide variety of invertebrates (2), but most New Zealand skinks are omnivorous with fruit and insects known to form a large proportion of their diet (3).
In captivity, the young are born from late January to early March with two to three offspring in each litter (2).Top
Small-scaled skink rangeTop
Small-scaled skink habitat
The optimum habitat for the small-scaled skink is yet to be determined but it is known to inhabit rocky areas such as screes, boulders, outcrops and cliff-faces (4)Top
Small-scaled skink status
Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Small-scaled skink threats
As with other New Zealand skinks, habitat loss and introduced mammalian predators are thought to present the greatest threat to the small-scaled skink (3) (4). Owing to these impacts, the small-scaled skink population is believed to be undergoing a serious decline (4).Top
Small-scaled skink conservation
With so many unknowns associated with the small-scaled skink, the immediate priority is to conduct further research into the species’ conservation status by obtaining data on its distribution, habitat use, relative abundance and threats, including the impact of mammalian predators. The collated information will then be used to determine the optimum means of ensuring the survival of this species (4).Top
Find out more
For further information on the conservation of the small-scaled skink see:
- Towns, D.R., Neilson, K.A. and Whitaker, A.H. (2002) North Island Oligosoma spp. Skink Recovery Plan 2002-2012. Department of Conservation, Wellington, New Zealand. Available at:
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- A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- IUCN Red List (October, 2008)
- Patterson, G.B. and Daugherty, C.H. (1990) Four new species and one new subspecies of skink, genus Leiolopisma (Reptilia: Lacertilia: Scincidae) from New Zealand. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 20: 65 - 84.
- Department of Conservation. (2006) Skinks and Geckos Factsheet. Department of Conservation, Christchurch. Available at:
- Towns, D.R., Neilson, K.A. and Whitaker, A.H. (2002) North Island Oligosoma spp. Skink Recovery Plan 2002-2012. Department of Conservation, Wellington, New Zealand.
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