Skinks – Backyard Buddies

what do they look like?

there are over 320 species of skinks in australia. they can range in size from the small common garden skink at just 9cm to the large blue-tongued lizard that can get over 40cm long. most suburban backyards are home to a variety of skinks, but many look similar at a glance. 

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where are they found?

skinks can be found all across australia. due to their timid nature and quick reflexes you may only ever see them dashing for cover as you approach.

fast facts:

  1. they create nests in moist soil under objects in the garden. females lay about five eggs each, sometimes in communal nests which hold dozens of eggs. eggs look like mini chicken eggs but are soft and rubbery. they become enlarged as they absorb moisture from the surrounding soil.
  2. a skink drops its tail when handled by you or chased by a predator. this is a survival tactic, as predators often focus on the wriggling tail while the skink escapes. the tail will eventually regrow, but it costs the skink a lot of energy.
  3. skinks don’t have to eat every day, but will do so when conditions are favourable.

skinks

there are over 325 species of skinks in australia. they can range in size from the small common garden skink at just 9cm to the large blue-tongued lizard that can get over 40cm long. most suburban backyards are home to a variety of skinks, but they look similar at a glance. due to their timid nature and quick reflexes you may only ever see them dashing for cover as you approach.

skinks don’t have to eat every day, but will do so when conditions are favourable.

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females of the garden skink lay about five eggs each, sometimes in communal nests which can hold hundreds of eggs. they compose nests in moist soil under objects in the garden. eggs are just 1cm long look like mini chicken eggs but are soft and rubbery. they become enlarged as they absorb moisture from the surrounding soil.

the female blue-tongued lizard gives birth to live young three to four months after mating. blue-tongues have between one and fifteen babies who are able to look after themselves just four days after birth. but it will take three to four years before they are fully grown.

to take a closer look at skinks in your garden, find a comfortable spot on a warm day to sit quietly where you usually see skinks and they should eventually emerge.

you can help skinks thrive in your garden

these pest-controlling hunters can survive easily in your garden. by including logs, sticks and leaf mulch in your garden you can help to protect them.

you will most often see them sunning themselves on rocks or bricks, but as they are prey for many birds, they will disappear like lightning if they sense any threats.

simple things that you do can make a huge difference to australia’s animals. 

skinks love:

a place to sunbake – the sun’s warmth prepares their bodies for more insect-gathering activity.

eating insects – crickets, moths and cockroaches are favourites.

a place to hide – lizards have a good chance of escaping predators if your garden includes logs, small bundles of sticks and dense ground cover.

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but they don’t like:

their eggs being dug up – gardeners or animals sometimes uncover their nests. eggs are most prone to being disturbed between early summer and autumn.

cats and dogs – some pets can’t resist chasing or catching skinks.

birds – that see them as a quick and easy snack

be a buddy to skinks

try to:

  • accumulate plenty of leaf mulch on garden beds – this provides the ideal location for skinks to hide and feed.
  • restore a nest if you disturb it while digging in the garden.
  • lean a small stick in any water bowl – skinks may drink there and be unable to climb out.

avoid:

  • using pesticides. a skink can be poisoned if it eats a contaminated insect.

don’t be surprised if:

  • a skink drops its tail when handled by you or chased by a predator. this is a survival tactic, as predators often focus on the wriggling tail while the skink escapes. the tail will eventually regrow, but it costs the skink a lot of energy.
  • you find several skinks locked in a tangle, holding each other. this may be some form of territorial or mating behaviour.
  • skinks occasionally come inside your house. they are timid and difficult to catch, but using a soft-bristled brush and dustpan you can try to catch them and return them to the garden.

Source: https://livingcorner.com.au
Category: Garden