The Southern Rainbow Skink, Carlia tetradactyla, belongs to genus Carlia comprising 24 described Australian species, which are referred to as Four-fingered or Rainbow Skinks.
The range of the Southern Rainbow Skink extends from Benalla in northern Victoria, along western slopes of the Great Dividing Range to the Darling Downs in south-eastern Queensland.
Although their natural habitat is open dry forest, particularly those with tussock-dominated ground cover, they are very much at home in gardens with sufficient ground cover.
A brightly coloured breeding maleI have Southern Rainbow Skinks living and breeding amongst ferns and violets, herbs and ground-hugging natives. However, since a young Eastern Water Dragon, Physignathus lesueurii, has made a home of my fern garden, the skinks have vacated the fern garden in favour of other leafy habitats around my yard.
They are active, sun-loving lizards, and forage amongst mulch and leaf litter, feeding on insects, spiders and other invertebrates. Being terrestrial (ground dwelling), they rarely climb, but take advantage of rocks and other structures as viewing posts.
All Carlia species have four fingers and five toes, unlike other skink genera which have five digits on each limb.
Lizards are usually measured from snout to vent (SVL). Adult Southern Rainbow Skinks are about 65mm (SVL) and up to about 150mm including tail. They have a thin whippy tail, and can often be seen waving the tail in curved motions in the air. I am unsure if there is a reason for this tail-wagging.
Breeding males take on bright orange lateral stripes and blue-green neck colouration, making a handsome sight from October to May. Females lay parchment-shelled eggs (paper-like) in a secluded spot during the warmer months.
A youngster taking cover under a leaf
These cute little skinks scurry around my gardens chasing insects and each other. Although they are secretive in their habits, they can be watched at length by a still and patient observer. Create a suitable habitat and they will move in. Enjoy them.