Think of the Skink

Skink-May-17-BlogDo you know what a skink is? No, it’s not a confused skunk! Skinks are in facts a type of lizard. There are well over a thousand different types of skink, making them the 2nd most diverse group of lizards after iguanas.

A skink looks a bit like a cross between a lizard and a snake. They have long bodies with tiny little legs – in fact some types of skink have no legs at all! They also have long tails which make up half their length. These are special because they can be shed if grabbed by a predator and then regrown.

Because there are so many different types of skink, they can be found in a variety of habitats. Some like to live in deserts, others on mountains and still more in grasslands. Some skinks are good climbers and make their homes in trees but most are burrowers who live beneath the ground. If there is one word that sums skinks up it’s cosmopolitan!

Green-Skink-May-17The vast majority of skinks are carnivores. Most of their diet consists of invertebrates like beetles or snails, though occasionally they’ll take small mammals or even other lizards. There are a few types of skink which are partial to vegetables but they still need half of their diet to be animal.

Skinks are so different to one another that even their young enter the world in different ways. Most skinks lay eggs (from 8 – 100, depending on the type of skink) in nests. Once laid the eggs are abandoned and the young left to fend for themselves. But almost half of all types of skink give birth to live offspring, just like us mammals.

Skinks have many predators – herons, foxes, mongooses, snakes, hawks, lizards… They are also victims of human expansion with pet cats and dogs taking quite a few. In some places skinks make their nests in warm places beneath human homes – not a wise idea!

Because of their versatility and wide ranging habitats, skinks are doing quite well. Of the 1,000 plus species, only a handful are under threat of extinction.

If you’re interested in the natural world then you might like our Nature quizzes. We have more than 60, and each of them is free to play. Have a go and test your natural history knowledge today. Who knows what natural wonders are just waiting to be discovered at the click of a mouse!

I hope you enjoyed finding out about skinks. If there is any animal, or plant, you’d like us to feature in Nature Matters, then let the Education Quizzes team know by filling in the box below. We’ll do our darndest to get the facts just for you.

11 thoughts on “Think of the Skink

    • Thanks for the question Sophie. As far as I am aware, skinks cannot live inside a human. They do like to find nooks and crannies to hide in, but not inside our bodies!

  1. One of our cats got ahold of one and it took us 3 days to find it in our house. Poor guy was found by one of the other cats but I happened to see it. Put him outside to safety. He appeared to be alright.

  2. I’m not sure if what I found was one but it had 4 small legs and coiled up. I took it home thinking it was not a species classified. It was about 12-18 inches long with tiny front and rear legs closer to the mid section. It moved and ran fairly good. I believe it was a young baby as it ran toward me yet showed no aggressive behavior.i let it stay in my closet over night it disappeared. I was staying in Redlands, CA between palm springs and San Bernardino.

    • I forgot to As I was in paramedic school at Crafton Hills College and walking home through residential areas at the time it was the spring of 1982.

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