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Rodd Island - a brief skink surveyPrintable Version

Rodd Island - click to enlarge

Earlier this month I was invited by a friend to celebrate Christmas on Rodd Island. As can be seen from this photograph, the island is small (coming in at 0.6 hectares) and relatively close to mainland shores.

Rodd Island eastern beach foreshore - click to elarge

Despite its tiny size, Rodd Island has at least 3 areas suitable for entering the water. This tiny beach is really not much larger than shown - I was standing at the northern end facing south. There are plenty of trees, shrubs, rock walls and sandstone outcrops on the island, and it's no surprise that it should house populations of animals such as skinks. One small (approx 8cm) skink was sighted atop the rockwall at this beach, but I could neither photograph nor identify it.

[02/02/2007: Many thanks to Ken Griffiths, author of the book "Frogs and Reptiles of the Sydney Region" for checking these photos for me in December last year and confirming the IDs are accurate.)

Common Garden Skink (Lampropholis guichinoti) - click to enlarge

Given this was a social outing, I did not spend a great deal of time searching for lizards. This was the only specimen I caught, although I did photograph others (see below). Hence, we return to the common garden skink (Lampropholis guichinoti). This specimen has quite different dorsal markings compared to the one presented in my earlier article which featured the common garden skink. Here we have black and grey flecks on a chocolatey dark brown background, without any dorsal stripe. Earlier we saw a grey background and very prominent dorsal stripe.

Common Garden Skink (Lampropholis guichinoti) - click to enlarge

This lateral view of the same lizard highlights the white stripe that runs along its side. This stripe distinguishes it from the delicate garden skink (Lampropholis delicata). The Reader's Digest Encyclopedia of Australian Wildlife provides the alternate common name of "pale-flecked garden sunskink" (1997 p333).

Common Garden Skink (Lampropholis guichinoti) - click to enlarge

This photo was taken before the preceding two. In this close-up you can see the variety of colours exhibited by the scales along the side of the body and on the front legs. Note the pale nose.

Common Garden Skink (Lampropholis guichinoti) - click to enlarge

Here the skink is having a look out from inside the clasp of my hand. Again, the pale nose is quite a distinguished feature. Note also the single, central scale on top of the head, between its eyes.

Common Garden Skink (Lampropholis guichinoti) - click to enlarge

This lateral view gives a close-up of the tiny claws on four of its five front toes. The copper colouration of the head is clearly distinguishable. The lizard was release right where it was collected. Interestingly, I found this speciment to be much more agile and to be faster than those which have been caught around my house. Could this be because on Rodd Island, these skinks are unused to human presence?

Common Garden Skink (Lampropholis guichinoti) - click to enlarge

When I came back later in the day to the same location, I found this common garden skink sunning itself very near to the location where the earlier one was captured. In all liklihood this is the same lizard. The copper coloured head and white stripe are very visible in this image.

Delicate Garden Skink (Lapropholis delicata)

Despite the poorer quality photographs, these two lizards were the highlight of the day as far as photographing skinks went. I first spotted a single specimen amongst the leaf litter beneath a stone wall. On my approach it quickly retreated into the litter and was not seen again. Even with this brief sighting I realised this looked a little different to skinks I had photographed earlier.

Delicate Garden Skink (Lapropholis delicata) - click to enlarge

In particular, this skink seemd much darker in the body, without as many markings as the common garden skink or fence skink, and in this case with quite a wide pelvic girdle. Immediately I wondered if the lizard was gravid (with eggs). The unusual pelvic width is visible in the upper right specimen in this photo.

Delicate Garden Skink (Lapropholis delicata) - click to enlarge

The Victorian Museum factsheet on the delicate skink mentions a bronze stripe "commencing on the shoulder and continuing to the base of the tail". Although this feature didn't strike me whilst observing the skink, it is apparent in the upper-right specimen here. Clearly it also lacks the white lateral stripe seen in the common garden skink earlier.

Delicate Garden Skink (Lapropholis delicata) - click to enlarge

These four photos were taken with the skinks sunning themselves on a stone wall. When I approached closer, they retreated into the cracks between stones. The alternative name provided by Reader's Digest is the "dark-flecked garden sunskink", whilst a Univeristy of Sydney article abstract describes it as the "rainbow skink" and mentions that they have been introduced to New Zealand, Whitaker, and now Lord Howe Island. (Elsewhere I read that it has also reached Hawaii - in all cases it competes with local fauna).

Many thanks to the helpful folks at Aussie Pythons for helping to identify this one in the absence of my Griffith book, and what's more ... on Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas to all WLMD readers too!


(As I went to publish this article, someone on the forum suggested the gully skink (Saproscincus galli) (instead of common garden skink at the start of this article). When I search the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Altlas of NSW Wildlife for "gully skink" I am presented with a second scientific name: Saproscincus spectabilis.

Now, to report the sighting to the atlas, and get their view on the matter.

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