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Cunningham's skink is a large skink species native to southeastern Australia, and belongs to the family Scincidae. It can grow up to 30+ cms in length, as was the case with this specimen - definitely one of the largest I have seen. It has a distinctive keel on each scale which gives a slightly spiny appearance. Extremely variable in colour ranging from dark brown to black, with or without blotchy patches, speckles or narrow bands. It is often found in groups, as it is quite gregarious and lives in small family colonies that share a common territory. This territory is marked by a communal defecation site. Usually found around large rock outcrops, sheltering in crevices or under large slabs of rock. It is an opportunistic feeder and is omnivorous. Juveniles tend to be more carnivorous, feeding on insects, spiders, snails, worms and even other lizards, whereas the adults prefer soft plant material such as flowers, berries, leaves and shoots, and even fungi. I've also heard these skinks aren't above helping themselves to your lunch either. So cheeky!
Spotted along the Mt. Norman track in Girraween National Park. This specimen was sunning itself on a rock, and afforded me a few moments to take some photos before it retreated into a rock crevice. Although a common species here, I have only ever spotted them in the elevated areas of the park, such as the granite monoliths like Mt. Norman. The extremes of weather and temperature variations between seasons would be immense. Here's some park info - http://www.rymich.com/girraween/
An interesting fact I read on the Australian Reptile Park site regarding the Cunningham's Skink scales: Each scale ends in a sharp, rigid point, especially on the tail. If threatened, the lizard will flee to the nearest rock crevice and puff up its body and use the spines to anchor itself into the refuge. Trying to remove a stubborn Cunningham’s skink from this position is practically impossible. I think that's quite a good defense tactic.
Spotted on Dec 6, 2018
Submitted on Dec 7, 2018
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