Tuesday, 2 September 2008

White's Skink

...Egernia whitii

White's Skink, Egernia whitii, was formally named by Lacépède in 1804. Both the scientific name and common name commemorate John White. He was the chief surgeon on the first fleet. White was also an amateur naturalist and just as well for there was no official naturalist assigned to the first fleet voyage.

The species is found from southern Queensland through to South Australia. In Tasmania it is found in the north and east as well as the Bass Straight islands. The Tasmanian lizards are a little smaller than their mainland counterparts, the longest recorded being 220mm including the tail. The body length (head to vent) is usually around 90mm. They are slow to mature (4 years) and have been recorded as living up to 8 years.

They are ambush predators feeding primarily on a range of small invertebrates but primarily ants. They will also take some plant material.

The back of my block is a north facing hill with plenty of rocks and logs. This is ideal habitat for White's Skink. They live in colonies and form a network of burrows between the aforementioned rocks and logs. Over the last two years I've spotted several locations where they reside. If I walk up the path I often see them basking on a rock. Oh, and how do I know if they are basking or waiting in ambush? Well if I look through the binoculars I can see their eyes are closed but they are not in a deep sleep as when I get a little nearer they quickly dart back within their burrow.

The first two photos were taken today. In photo #1the skink is facing straight toward me and I wanted a shot of the side of it's head so I flicked a small stone just in front of it and it immediately turned towards it allowing me to take photo #2. Photo #3 was taken last week and the remaining two are from last year. You'll notice there is some variation in their appearance but they always have a whitish line above their top lip.

(Click Photos to Enlarge)

#1 - White's Skink - Egernia whitii

#2 - White's Skink - Egernia whitii

#3 - White's Skink - Egernia whitii

#4 - White's Skink - Egernia whitii

#5 - White's Skink - Egernia whitii


  1. Nice ones Mosura, they can be quite difficult to approach and photograph.

  2. Thanks Duncan - I changed the second photo since you've posted. Well it's the same photo but I decided to crop it to show the detail in the head.

  3. No. 2's a winner.

    I enjoy watching skinks breathing, pulsing on their flanks. So unlike snakes. Oh, and was the whitish line a conscious pun?

  4. They're such handsome lizards!

  5. Thanks Tony - Not a deliberate pun as such but I was aware of it. That's actually how I remember to look for the white lip.

    Thanks Snail - Yes they certainly are. The younger ones always seem to be more clearly marked.