|Italian three-toed skink|
The Italian three-toed skink or just the three-toed skink (Chalcides chalcides) is a species of lizard found from Italy (including Sicily, Sardinia and Elba), to northern Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia. It is common in some locations and is usually found in sunny areas with dense vegetation (usually grass up to 40 cm of height) but can also be found in arid areas. They reach about 48 cm in length, out of which the tail constitutes more than half. Its body is long and snake-like, coloured usually between brown and olive and may have dark stripes on the back. Each of the highly reduced legs has three fingers. These skinks are active during daytime and prey mainly on insects. Females of the species give birth to live young. The population of this skink is slowly declining, but it has some tolerance to habitat modification.
This skink superficially looks like a snake except for the possession of tiny limbs with three-toed feet, the middle toe of the hind foot being longer than the other two, a fact that differentiates it from the Western three-toed skink (Chalcides striatus). It has a small head and thick neck and grows to a length of about 48 cm (19 in), more than half of which is tail. There are three different colour variants; Some animals are plain silvery-grey; some have four to six narrow lengthwise lines running along the body; some have these lines but additionally a pale longitudinal, lateral band.
Distribution and habitat
The Italian three-toed skink is native to Italy, where it is common south of the River Po, and including Sardinia, Elba and Sicily, and North Africa, where its range includes Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. Its typical habitat is damp but sunny areas with dense low vegetation such as meadows, stream verges, marshes, grassy slopes and hedgerows. In upland areas it may inhabit drier, more arid areas with low scrub and degraded slopes. Its altitudinal range is from sea level to 1,270 m (4,167 ft).
The Italian three-toed skink is common in suitable habitats over much of its wide range. It is threatened by urbanization and the degradation of its habitat by coastal development, but it is tolerant of some degree of habitat modification. The IUCN has listed it as being of "Least Concern" because, although the population is probably declining, this is not at a fast enough rate to warrant listing it in a more threatened category.
- Jose Antonio Mateo Miras, Marc Cheylan, M. Saïd Nouira, Ulrich Joger, Paulo Sá-Sousa, Valentin Pérez-Mellado, Iñigo Martínez-Solano, Roberto Sindaco, Antonio Romano (2009). "Chalcides chalcides". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2014-01-06.
- Arnold, E. Nicholas; Ovenden, Denys W. (2002). Field Guide: Reptiles & Amphibians of Britain & Europe. Collins & Co. p. 189. ISBN 9780002199643.