Night skink

Egernia striata

SUBFAMILY

Lygosominae

TAXONOMY

Egernia striata Sternfeld, 1919, Hermannsburg Mission, Upper Finke River, Northern Territory.

OTHER COMMON NAMES English: Nocturnal desert skink.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

These are moderately large, reddish brown terrestrial skinks with elliptical pupils.

DISTRIBUTION

The species occurs in Central Australia. HABITAT

The night skink inhabits red, sandy deserts with spinifex grass. BEHAVIOR

This large nocturnal skink digs elaborate tunnel systems that are used as retreats by many other species of reptiles, both diurnal and nocturnal. These complex burrows are important features of Australian sandy deserts, with several interconnected openings often as far as 3.3 ft (1 m) apart and up to 1.6 ft (0.5 m) deep, vaguely reminiscent of a tiny rabbit warren.

I Menetia greyii I Egernia striata

Most sand removed from a night skink burrow is piled up in a large mound outside one "main" entrance.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

The major prey is termites, which constitute 76% of the diet by volume. Beetles, ants, cockroaches, and insect larvae also are eaten.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Night skinks are live bearers, giving birth to one to four young. Gravid females with full-term embryos are found from late October through mid-January (with a peak in December). Juveniles stay in the same burrow system with their mothers, as they often contain an adult female plus several newborn young.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

These skinks consume insects. ♦

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