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Copper-tailed skinkPrintable Version

Copper-tailed skink (Ctenotus taeniolatus) - click to enlarge

I've used the term before - this was a Steve Irwin moment.

The story this time, however, was that I was taking a friend from the United States on his first Australian bushwalk. Our destination? The world's second oldest National Park - Australia's Royal National Park. Beginning at the southern end of Lady Carrington Drive we headed north a short way, then east to the Aboriginal cave site. From there, north up the spur and east to the roadway. Heading south took us to another track junction where we again headed east, bound for Eagle Rock at Curracurrong.

It was along this sandy track that this copper-tailed skink was captured. Even funnier was the fact that my colleague found the whole thing fascinating enough to capture on video. In the Crocodile Hunter episode "Jungle in the clouds" Steve talks about picking up tips from the locals - but this time it was me picking up a tip from Steve's Red Centre episode - never look a lizard in the eye. Well I figured that worked for monitors so it should work with skinks.

This one was behind a clump of grass, and so probably thought it was out of sight. Once again it was Ken Griffiths' book on Sydney's frogs and reptiles that provided the ID for me and he points out this species has 5 fingers and 5 toes. You can clearly see the fingers in this shot, but what strikes me is the length of this guy's toes!

Copper-tailed skink (Ctenotus taeniolatus) - click to enlarge

This tiny little specimen was found earlier during our walk than the one above. At that stage I hadn't yet managed to catch one. He was photographed on a long lens - hence the incorrect colouration - but something of the colour of his coppery tail can be seen here. Again, his toes are huge.

Copper-tailed skink (Ctenotus taeniolatus) - click to enlarge

This is the same juvenile, showing more of the striking dorsal stripe pattern.

Copper-tailed skink (Ctenotus taeniolatus) - click to enlarge

This sub-adult really emphasises the tail colouration. As Griffiths points out, more often than not you're caught hearing these lizards scurry away into the leaf litter before you get a chance to see them. Patience, however, was eventually rewarded and this fast moving little critter managed to make it into my slowly-but-surely growing collection of Sydney basin skink photographs!

Copper-tailed skink (Ctenotus taeniolatus) - click to enlarge

In this and the subsequent photo we get to see many of the copper-tailed skink's characteristic features up close including the scale configuration on its head and the 5 fingers. Note its blunt snout and cute eyes - remeniscent of the three-toed skink - and once again the beautiful and detailed colourations.

Copper-tailed skink (Ctenotus taeniolatus) - click to enlarge

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