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Skinks, me thinks, are cool!

Many-lined Sun Skink (Mabuya multifasciata) from Doi Chiang Dao, Thailand
Many-lined Sun Skink (Mabuya multifasciata) from Doi Chiang Dao, Thailand

I like skinks.  They look friendly!  There is something about their smooth shape and rounded lines that looks more attractive than some other types of lizard.  There are more than 1,400 species of skinks; most have cylindrical bodies and short limbs, but others have lost their limbs altogether (or have very reduced appendages).  There are skinks with vivid blue tongues, skinks with fat tails (for storing fat), skinks which give birth to live young, and skinks who swim through sand (called sandfish).

 Long tailed sun skink (Mabuya longicaudata)

Long tailed sun skink (Mabuya longicaudata)

There are 48 species recorded in Thailand (2), where these photographs were taken. There are sun skinks, tree skinks, stream skinks, forest skinks, legless skinks and so on; the names giving a fairly good idea about the diverse habitats that they occupy. A new (i.e. new to science) legless, or rather limbless, skink was found in Thailand in 1972 (1).  Perhaps there are others still to find?

Many-lined Sun Skink (Mabuya multifasciata)
Many-lined Sun Skink (Mabuya multifasciata)

The Many-lined Sun Skink  (Eutropis multifasciata), is a beautiful animal with a lovely bronze sheen and an orange throat (above).  They are found throughout Thailand and south-east Asia and are relatively common near human habitation and on the banks of streams.  Skinks such as this are terrestrial and feed on insects and other invertebrates. Being cold-blooded, they love to come out into the sun, but are wary of humans and will disappear back into the undergrowth if approached too closely.

Long-tailed sun skink (Mabuya longicaudata)
Long-tailed sun skink (Mabuya longicaudata)

The  Long-tailed sun skink (Mabuya longicaudata) is another species which is widespread throughout Thailand.  The tail is extremely long, over twice as long as the body, but if it is lost and has to grow back, the replacement – or regenerated – tail is said to be no longer than its body (3).  The moral being, if you want a long tail, keep the one you were born with!

Striped tree skink (Lipinia vittigera)
Striped tree skink (Lipinia vittigera)

The Striped tree skink (Lipinia vittigera) or Common striped skink, is a pretty little reptile with a beautiful orange tail (above) which is mainly seen on tree trunks, presumably hunting for insects.

There are a lot more skinks to be seen and photographed.  I look forward to hopefully seeing some new ones on my travels.

1) Heyer, R. (1972). A new limbless skink (Reptilia: Scincidae) from Thailand with comments on the generic status of the limbless skinks of Southeast Asia. https://archive.org/details/newlimblessskink5810heye

2)  Tanya Chan-ard, Jarujin Nabhitabhata, John W. K. Parr (2014). A Field Guide to the Reptiles of Thailand.  Oxford University Press. 

3) Reptiles and Amphibians of Bangkok. https://bangkokherps.wordpress.com/2011/09/18/long-tailed-sun-skink/

rcannon992 View All

I am a retired entomologist with a background in quarantine pests and invasive invertebrates. I studied zoology at Imperial College (University of London) and did a PhD on the population dynamics of a cereal aphid (Metopolophium dirhodum) in the UK. I spent 5 years with the British Antarctic Survey studing cold hardiness of Antarctic invertebates and 17 years with the Food and Environment Research Agency. My main interests now are natural history, photography, painting and bird watching.

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