Habitat Ecology Information

What’s Lurking In Your Backyard? – #36 Yellow-bellied 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 or so 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.

#36 Yellow-bellied Water Skink

(Eulamprus heatwolei)

This skink was not located in our yard but up along the Murray River region during a trip to the area. This species however has been found on the outskirts of Melbourne with records within the Dandenong Ranges, Murrindindi and Nillumbik areas. This may be a difficult one to find with its current conservation status recorded as “Endangered” according to the Atlas of Living Australia but worth looking for.

This skink can grow to approximately 10 cm long and is golden almost copper brown above with black flecks. The bright yellow abdomen and thighs are quite distinctive and make them stand out. The sides of the skink are black with white flecks on the upper lateral surfaces and grey/whitish with black flecks on the lower lateral surfaces.

They may be found in a variety of habitats from wet and dry forest, open woodlands and heathlands were they may be located along the margins of creeks, rivers, swamps and bogs. This specimen was found basking on the rocks along a creek near Corryong and was quite happy to sit their whilst I watch from the waters of the creek.

The diet of these skinks consists of small vertebrates, invertebrates and the occasional fruit. Like many reptiles they are inactive in winter and tend to emerge in early spring and will spend time basking in the open of rocks and logs. This species is viviparous giving birth to live young, with as many as eight individuals being born at a time.

© Habitat Ecology 2021

References:

Atlas of Living Australia: https://bie.ala.org.au/species/urn:lsid:biodiversity.org.au:afd.taxon:1df8a2c5-288f-4160-ab01-aa94b18f2db3

Museum Victoria Collections: https://collections.museumsvictoria.com.au/species/15227