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Leaping Lizards!
ZEALANDIA Ecosanctuary

Leaping Lizards!

Recently a rainbow skink (Lampropholis delicata, also known as plague skinks) has been spotted in Glenside. You might remember our story earlier this year about these lizards which had yet to make their way to Wellington.  
 
We are asking that everyone – particularly those living or traveling in the areas where these skinks are known to be found (e.g. around Glenside, as well as Foxton Beach and Palmerston North) – to be especially alert, and to please give your gear an extra thorough check before coming to the sanctuary. As always, biosecurity checks of your bags at the biosecurity gate help keep Zealandia free of harmful species such as plague skinks.
 
This species was accidentally introduced from Australia to Auckland and has been spreading down the North Island with a few outliers in Marlborough. 
 

Why are they a problem? 

Because these skinks mature in half the time of our native lizards (and lay up to eight eggs/three times a year) they can reach high population densities in a very short time. For reference, most of our native skinks only breed once a year, and some don’t even begin breeding until they are five years old! Rainbow skinks therefore have the potential to outcompete indigenous skinks and increase predation pressure on invertebrates.  
 

Where can you find them? 

Rainbow skinks prefer moist areas and are commonly found under vegetation, litter, rocks and logs. They also thrive in urban areas, gardens, commercial areas, industrial sites, garden centres, and waste ground. These skinks will frequently enter freight and shipping containers. You may also find nests of 20-100 oval white eggs, 8-10 mm long, with a tough leathery shell, e.g in the soil of potted plants.  
 

What to do  

If you see a rainbow/plague skink or their eggs, call the 24-hour DOC hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) or MPI Biosecurity 0800 809 966 immediately. If possible, take a photo and add your observation to iNaturalist.

 

Hero Image: Rainbow aka Plague skink. Credit  Xander T, via Wikimedia Commons

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