Wild life and nature of Samos, Ikaria & Fournoi

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Reptiles & amphibians

Ocellated Skink (Chalcides ocellatus)

Description

The Ocellated skink is formed by a long body, smooth and bright scales, and short limbs. The overall body length goes from 20 to 30 cm. It takes its name for the many black and white eyespots over the whole body, which form unique patterns, that vary from individual to individual. Underneath all the eyespots, the ocellated skink displays a light brown colour, that can also look grey or yellowish-green, and a white underside. Juveniles initially have a greenish tail, which becomes brown after six months. The ocellated skink it’s not know for liking to spend it time outside; in fact, it stays under cover as much as possible. It’s active mainly during day, or during sunrise and sunset in case of a very hot day. The skink becomes completely inactive during winter, as it goes through hibernation underground. It slowly regains its usual habits activities as springtime approaches. During this time, the mating occurs, particularly in April. Males combat for females, sometimes by biting each other’s tail off. After a pregnancy of 2-3 months, females give birth to offspring between April and September, with litters that go from 5 to 10 youngs.

Habitat

The Ocellated skink occupies a wide range across the globe. It goes from Mauritania and Morocco to Somali in North Africa, it’ s spread across many Mediterranean islands in southern Europe, and it is also found in the west part of Asia, from the eastern Arabian Peninsula to Turkmenistan and Pakistan. The selection of habitats preferred by the Ocellated skink is quite wide. It goes from open and bare areas for sun exposure, to dense vegetation for shelter, from open forests to the Mediterranean shrubby vegetation. However, it can also inhabit human spaces, such as farms, gardens and towns.

Diet

The ocellated skink is an agile forager and hunter, preying in a big variety of invertebrates, such as ants, beetles, snails, spiders, and many arthropods. It also feeds on smaller lizards and some plant parts.

Protection Status

This species is listed as “Least Concern” by IUCN Red list.

Interesting Fact

As a lizard, this species can detach from its tail to escape from the grip of a predator, and then regenerate a new one. The ocellated skink reproduces by ovoviviparity, which means that the eggs stay inside the mother’s whomb until their ready for hatching.

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