Endemic skinks

The endemic skinks are smooth scaled with elongated slender bodies and clawed toes. Unlike the geckos they have eyelids and all of them are terrestrial, but can climb high within the vegetation. There are three described species, although there are different forms of slit-eared skinks on the islands that are currently being described.

Bojer's skink Gongylomorphus bojerii

These skinks are no longer found on mainland Mauritius and are restricted to just a few of the offshore islands. They are medium sized and their colour can vary from golden brown to grey-brown, usually with a darker stripe down the centre of the back and a broken stripe along either side of the body and the head. The head is usually a slightly lighter brown or yellow colour than the rest of the body. Differences exist between the island populations, such that there are likely to be three different sub-species. The southeastern form of Bojer’s skink is currently being restored back to islands in the region as part of the Mauritius Reptile Recovery Programme.

Macchabé skink Gongylomorphus fontenayi

These skinks are the only endemic skink remaining on mainland Mauritius. They occur in and close to areas of native forest in the Black River Gorges National Park. They have a dark brown colouration with a lighter pattern on their back. Underneath, their body is usually pale cream to orange in colour. They are very illusive spending most of their time hidden beneath the leaf litter and rocks.

 Macchabé skink                                                           Orange-tailed skink

       

Orange-tailed skink Gongylomorphus  (undescribed)

A unique undescribed form of the Macchabé skink, the orange-tailed skink was only known from Flat Island. The orange-tailed skink is larger than the Macchabé skink, with a chocolate brown body and a bright orange to deep red tail. Females usually have darker orange tail than males. They were once thought to have been present in lowlands on mainland Mauritius. Following threats to the existence of Flat Island’s reptile populations, orange-tailed skinks were moved to neighbouring islands through the Mauritius Reptile Recovery Programme to reduce the risk of extinction. Sadly the threat to Flat Island's reptiles was realised in 2010 when the introduced predatory shrew was discovered and by April 2011 orange-tailed skinks could no longer be found on the island.

Telfair’s skink  Leiolopisma telfairii

 

These large skinks where once found throughout Mauritius, but became restricted to Round Island in the mid to late 1800s. Their colouration ranges from light grey-brown to light brown-bronze, often with a pattern of light and dark brown spots down the back. When observed in the sunlight they can appear iridescent and have a blue-green hue. Telfair’s skinks are very inquisitive and investigate everything to see if can be eaten. Where it is an important predator, seed disperser and prey item for other Mauritian species it has been reintroduced to islands within its former range as part of the Mauritius Reptile Recovery Programme. Ile aux Aigrettes is one of the islands where the skink has been released and can be visited through the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation.