Small-scaled skink (Oligosoma microlepis)

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassReptilia
OrderSquamata
FamilyScincidae
GenusOligosoma (1)
SizeMax snout-vent length: 67 mm (2)

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

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).

The small-scaled skink is endemic to the North Island of New Zealand, where it occurs in a few small and isolated populations (4).

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)

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).

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).

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).

For further information on the conservation of the small-scaled skink 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. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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.