Wright’s skink (Trachylepis wrightii)

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Wright's skink, side view
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Wright’s skink fact file

Wright’s skink description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassReptilia
OrderSquamata
FamilyScincidae
GenusTrachylepis (1)

Skinks (Scincidae) are typically small lizards with smooth, shiny scales and elongate, cylindrical bodies (2), not usually exceeding 12 centimetres in total length (3). In most species, the long, tapering tail is easily shed as a defence mechanism against predators, and can be regenerated (2) (3). Their heads are generally cone-shaped and somewhat flattened, with a long snout, though males of some species develop broad heads, which is thought to be an adaptation to aggressive competition during the breeding season (2) (3). The tongue is broad, has an arrowhead-shaped tip and is covered with serrated scales (3). Skinks are most frequently striped or otherwise patterned (2), but Wright’s skink is more uniformly metallic brown in colour, darker above and paler below, with only faint longitudinal stripes.

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Wright’s skink biology

Wright’s skink is a generalist scavenger and predator, largely dependent on seabird colonies where it feeds on insects attracted to dropped fish, and on the eggs and chicks of the birds (1) (4). It feeds heavily on these items, putting on much weight in the seabird breeding season. For the rest of the year it survives on declining insect populations. Its large size enables Wright’s skink to store large fat reserves sufficient to survive several months until the seabirds return to their breeding colonies (4).

Little is known about the biology of Wright’s skink, although we do know that this skink is an egg-laying species (1). Eggs of skinks are usually laid as single clutches, and may be guarded or abandoned, but in some species they are laid communally. Clutches are typically small in this lizard family, and limited to just one or two eggs in some species (3). Most skink species are diurnal, although some are nocturnal or crepuscular (3).

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Wright’s skink range

Confined only to Seychelles islands with seabird colonies, including Aride, Cousin, Cousine, St. Pierre, Mammelles, Recifs and Frégate. Some historical records also exist from Bird Island, but this appears to have been a temporary introduction (1).

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Wright’s skink habitat

Found on the ground and occasionally in trees in dry forest and shrubland (1).

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Wright’s skink status

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

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Wright’s skink threats

Although there are no direct threats to Wright’s skink, the seabird colonies on which it depends are at risk from human disturbance. It is therefore highly vulnerable to the loss of any of these colonies (1).

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Wright’s skink conservation

Wright’s skink and the associated breeding seabird colonies are protected in the Aride, Cousin and Cousine Special Reserves (1).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Authentication

Authenticated (06/02/2007) by Justin Gerlach, Scientific Co-ordinator, The Nature Protection Trust of Seychelles.
http://islandbiodiversity.com

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Glossary

Colonies
A group of organisms living together. Individuals in the group are not physiologically connected and may not be related, such as a colony of birds.
Crepuscular
Active at dusk and/or dawn.
Diurnal
Active during the day.
Nocturnal
Active at night.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (June, 2008)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. kaweahoaks.com (December, 2006)
    http://kaweahoaks.com/html/skinks.htm
  3. The TIGR Reptile Database (June, 2008)
    http://www.tigr.org/reptiles/families/Scincidae.html
  4. Gerlach, J. (2007) Pers. comm.
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Image credit

Wright's skink, side view  
Wright's skink, side view

© Roger de la Harpe / Animals Animals

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