The tessellated skink (Trachylepis tessellata) is a rather poorly-known lizard endemic to the southern Arabian Peninsula (2)(3)(4). Like other skinks (Scincidae species), the tessellated skink has a roughly cylindrical body (5) which is covered in smooth, overlapping scales, underlain with bony plates (3)(5)(6). The tail is longer than the body and, as in other Trachylepis species, the limbs are well developed (6).
Very little information is available on the appearance of the tessellated skink, but it is reported to be highly variable in colouration (2). It is similar in size to the ocellated skink (Chalcides ocellatus), but has more well-developed legs and lacks the ocellated skink’s ‘eye spot’ patterning (3).
Very little is currently known about the biology of the tessellated skink. Like other skinks, it is likely to be active during the day and to be an active forager that hunts for a variety of arthropod prey (5). Most skinks are terrestrial (6), and use a range of chemical and visual cues to communicate (5).
Male skinks often become aggressive during the breeding season, performing displays to warn off rivals (5). Like most other skink species, the tessellated skink is likely to lay eggs (5)(6).
The tessellated skink is not currently known to be facing any major threats. However, in some areas its populations are reported to have declined (2).
In countries such as the United Arab Emirates, rapid development and urbanisation are having negative effects on native ecosystems (7), and this could potentially impact populations of the tessellated skink.
There are no known conservation measures currently targeted at the tessellated skink, and very little is currently known about this small reptile.
However, efforts underway to conserve the natural environments of the region may indirectly benefit this species. For example, the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi is working in the United Arab Emirates to protect the country’s rich biodiversity (8).
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