Skink (Copper) Cyclodina aenea
Species: C. aenea
Binomial name: Cyclodina aenea
Common name: Copper Skink
There are two kinds of lizards in New Zealand - geckos and skinks. Geckos have broad heads with large bulging eyes and their pupils are vertical slots. They have clearly defined necks, and soft, velvety-looking skin that is covered in very small, granular scales. Skinks are more slender with narrow heads and small eyes with round pupils. Skinks have tight smooth, shiny, fish-like scales on the surface of their skin. Both groups can lose their tails, which can distract predators while the animal escapes.
The Copper skink is one of the more common and widespread of the New Zealand lizards and is endemic to the North Island. The species is widely dispersed in the Wellington and Wairarapa areas but there are few reports from the area between there and the southern shores of Lake Taupo. From Taupo north there are numerous reports from the North Island and offshore islands. The exception is high altitude areas of the central North Island. High altitude areas may be beyond the physiological tolerance of the species but other apparent gaps in range are probably a reflection of relative survey effort. They are sleek, glossy and coppery in colour; they grow to about 13cm including a very long tail. They are nocturnal and feed on small insects, spiders and similar invertebrates. They are highly alert animals, with an exceptional sense of smell, hearing and sight. Copper skinks are one of comparatively few live-bearing lizards which do not lay eggs. Lizards that give birth to live young are referred to as being ovoviviparous, and this type of reproduction is called ovoviviparity. The embryo of most lizards develop inside an egg once laid, but in live bearing lizards the embryo development takes place inside the mothers body. The embryo is still covered by a very thin skinned egg. The young lizards hatch almost immediately after being born. The Copper skink has about 3 to 6 babies each year and they are born February to March. The young are quite large at birth sometimes up to half the adult length. Lizards, like many of the native species in New Zealand, are extremely vulnerable and need our protection. The major threats to skinks and geckos are introduced predators and habitat loss. Lizards are eaten by cats, ferrets, stoats, weasels, hedgehogs, rats, mice, and even some birds like magpies, kingfishers and blackbirds. Recently the Department of Conservation officers found a dead cat caught in a trap (not at New Plymouth) and opened up its stomach to see what it had been eating. Inside were 12 skinks that had been that morning's breakfast!.
For more information on lizards visit The New Zealand Herpetological Society at http://www.reptiles.org.nz/
Photo below are of Cyclodina aenea (Copper skink) found on the Te Henui walkway
Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/
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