T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Skink (Grand) Oligosoma grande

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Scincidae
Genus: Oligosoma
Species: O. grande
Binomial name: Oligosoma grande
Synonym: Mocoa grandis
Common name: Grand skink

Oligosoma grande is a nationally critically, endangered species of large skink endemic to a few specific locations of large schist rock outcroppings in Central Otago, New Zealand. It is one of New Zealand’s rarest reptiles.

Oligosoma grande are relatively large compared to other New Zealand skinks, they are capable of growing up to 30 cm in length. Their short limbed, cylindrical bodies are protected by an armour of glossy scales that are black with yellow-green flecks this provides them excellent camouflage in their rocky habitat of lichen-covered rocks and schist outcrops. They can often be seen sunning themselves on these rocks.
Oligosoma grande are active during the day, especially during periods of sunshine. It is an omnivorous species with a diverse diet comprising a wide variety of invertebrates, fleshy fruit and vegetation. They become sexually mature at around four years of age, females give birth to around two to four young each year. The annual survival rate is just less than 60 percent, but these skinks can live up to 17 years in the wild.

It is estimated that the main decrease in their numbers is from attacks from stoats, feral cats, ferrets weasels and the increasing lack of sheltering habitats presumably driven by land use changes, particularly the intensification of farming. 
The Department of Conservation (DOC) has classified the Oligosoma grande as Nationally Critical under the New Zealand Threat Classification System and as a result of this classification, they have a specific management plan for this skink with a recovery team focussing conservation efforts on intensive pest management, predator-proof fences and captive breeding programmes.

A photo of an Oligosoma grande showing how its colour and scale 
patterns camouflage it in its lichen-covered rocky habitat. 


Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/