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Cunningham's Skink

Egernia cunninghami


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 -


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.

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Neil Ross
Neil Ross 2 years ago

Cheers, Rob. I appreciate you and Ava saying that. Knowing that people actually read the notes makes adding them all worthwhile :)

triggsturner 2 years ago

Couldn't agree more Neil. You always put great notes that make your spottings so enjoyable.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 2 years ago

Thanks, Ava. I do my best. I feel cheated when a spotting has no notes.

Ava T-B
Ava T-B 2 years ago

Neil, as always, such great, informative notes!

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 2 years ago

Many thanks to you Maria, Rob, Pam and Brian. I appreciate the congrats. It's a beautiful skink. And Brian, I usually try to include a broad habitat photo. It puts everything into perspective.

Brian38 2 years ago

Congratulations Neil! Amazing pictures and I really like the last one showing the habitat.

pamsai 2 years ago

Beautiful markings on this skink, Neil, and a great photo of it. Congrats...

triggsturner 2 years ago

Congrats on your sotd Neil. Really lovely series and notes.

Maria dB
Maria dB 2 years ago

Congratulations on your SOTD. This is a beautiful skink - what a cool pattern on its skin.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 2 years ago

I love Girraween, Daniele. I'd be quite happy to live down there in a cave, it is such a beautiful and interesting place. It would also save me the drive from Brisbane. Thanks for the SOTD. And thank you too, Greyson. Much appreciated.

Greyson Smida
Greyson Smida 2 years ago

Amazing spotting!

DanielePralong 2 years ago

Looks like you had a great time in Girraween Neil! Congratulations, this beauty is our Spotting of the Day:

"A sun lover with beautiful patterns! This Cunningham's Skink (Egernia cunninghami) is our Spotting of the Day. This skink species from southeast Australia was first collected from the Blue Mountains by English explorer and botanist Allan Cunningham, after whom it is named. Skinks (family Scincidae) look much like true lizards, but most species lack a marked neck and their legs are on the short side. Skinks are one of the most diverse families of lizards: they count over 1,500 described species".



Neil Ross
Spotted by
Neil Ross

QLD, Australia

Spotted on Dec 6, 2018
Submitted on Dec 7, 2018

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