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Great Desert Skink

Skinks, in the family Scincidae, are a group of 1,274 species of lizards. Skinks mostly live in the ground, burrowing. They are found across the globe, especially in Southeast Asia into Oceania and certain parts of North America. Most skinks have long, tapering tails.

The great desert skink, or Liopholis kintorei, is a type of skink found in south western Australia. They are burrowing nocturnal burrowing animals. Their tunnels are immense, extending up to 12 meters with up to 20 different entrances. Great desert skinks burrows are organized and family based. For example, the skinks pick a particular area outside or dig a particular room to use as a bathroom, thereby keeping their tunnels clean. Adult skinks build the tunnels while younger lizards add small pop holes, mostly staying in the burrows. Juvenile lizards live in the same burrow as their siblings, and research has shown that all immature lizards in the same burrow are full siblings. Great desert skinks are extremely social: recent research shows that the skinks work together to create their intricate burrows. Most great desert skinks pair for their life and are faithful to their mate.


Image courtesy of Reptile Fact (Martin Whiting)

Great desert skinks are usually about 19 centimeters (7.5 inches) long. They have small, rust-colored scales on their back and light brown bellies. These skinks have large, circular eyes and short snouts. Skinks eat insects and other small invertebrates.

Great desert skinks are marked as vulnerable on the IUCN red list. There are between 5,000 and 10,000 individuals. The main threats to these skinks are human development, especially for residential and tourism areas, modification of their habitat, particularly for fire suppression, and the introduction of non-native diseases and animals.

Currently there is invasive species control protection and protected areas to try and help conserve the great desert skink. You can help by telling people about this amazing burrowing lizard.

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Works Cited

Government, N. (2018, March 20). Desert skink. Retrieved May 01, 2021, from

Skink. (n.d.). Retrieved May 01, 2021, from

Great desert skink facts and pictures. (2019, January 09). Retrieved May 01, 2021, from

Teale, R., & Catt, G. (2017, February 23). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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