Whitaker's skink

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Whitaker's skink
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Scincidae
Genus: Cyclodina
Species: C. whitakeri
Binomial name
Cyclodina whitakeri
Hardy, 1977

The Whitaker's skink, Cyclodina whitakeri, is a species of skink in the Scincidae family. It is found only in New Zealand. The specific epithet is in honour of Tony Whitaker (1944-2014), a New Zealand herpetologist who has studied NZ lizards for more than 30 years.[1]

Whitaker's skink lives in coastal forest and scrub. During the day the skinks retreat to warm, moist places such as seabird burrows and deep boulder banks. They forage on warm, humid nights. The species is found on two small, predator-free islands off the Coromandel Peninsula – Middle Island in the Mercury Islands group, and Castle Island. There is also a mainland population in a small rocky area at the base of coastal hills at Pukerua Bay, near Wellington. Fossil bones found in the Waikato Region suggest that these skinks were once more widely distributed. The Department of Conservation and the Friends of Mana Island are running a five year project to catch and breed enough animals from the vulnerable Pukerua Bay colony to establish a sustainable population on nearby predator-free Mana Island.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brian Gill and Tony Whitaker, "New Zealand Frogs and Reptiles", David Bateman, 1996