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Habitat Ecology Information

What’s Lurking In Your Backyard? – #13 Southern Water Skink.

This series looks at the variety of fauna that may be found in the suburban backyard or local reserve and the diversity may be surprising to some people. The obvious fauna are the vast array of birds that are readily seen by day and some by night, but there are numerous species that are nocturnal. Some of these nocturnal species people are familiar with as they tramp across the roof at night with what sounds like hobnail boots on, or they hear fighting in the backyard over food and territory. Others are cryptic and may only be seen infrequently when they enter the house for warmth and shelter. Each week I will highlight a different species that may be found in and around Melbourne’s backyards, parks and reserves, some may be familiar others less so.

#13 Southern Water Skink
(Eulamprus tympanum)

Found this little guy last week scurrying amongst the landscape rocks in the back yard and sunning itself in the first bit of sun of the spring. Like many reptiles they will remain relatively inactive during the cooler months and become more active with the return of the sun that can warm their bodies up. They will seek shelter and protection amongst rocks, cracks in tree stumps and bark during the cooler months, coming out on warm days to bask in the sun. If disturbed, they will quickly escape, either into the cracks they cam from or to the water if close by.

The Southern Water Skink can be found in and around watercourses such as small creeks were they will be seeking out small items of prey such as insects, tadpoles and frogs as well as other small lizards. With the extensive rains this year they move further away from the water sources as food becomes more prevalent.

As with a large number of skinks they give birth to live young which are independent at birth. The giving birth to live young is referred to as viviparous. The number of young varies from 2 – 5 and they are born during the later summer months. The Southern Water Skink is generally golden brown on the back with scattered black flecks whilst the flanks are black with golden or yellow spots. The tail is similar to the back and does not regenerate like some skinks.

This skink is in the same family as Blue-tongue Lizards which most people will be familiar with. The Southern Water Skink is found in Victoria as well as on Tasmania’s Rodondo Island in Bass Strait.

© Habitat Ecology 2012