Endangered Tussock Skink

This week, for Threatened Species Day, we are celebrating the discovery in our 2nd heath of the beautiful Southern Grass Tussock Skink, Pseudemoia pagenstecheri, which is listed as Endangered under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, near threatened in SA and Endangered in Tas.

The Tussock Skink grows to 62mm in length, is a carnivore, and an opportunistic arthropod feeder including spiders, crickets, larvae and adult moths and beetles .

Daniel Gilmore, a herpetologist from Biosis kindly provided us with these photos, taken under the lovely pea-flower Bossiaea cinerea. He has been keeping an eye on these beautiful lizards and says they have been in the park for some time.

Notes on the natural history of the Tussock Skink say they are active in all months of the year when conditions are favorable and they use stones and grass tussocks as refuges and basking sites. Males develop a red stripe down the side of the body.

They tend to occur singly, both when active and sheltering. They bear live young – a clutch of up to 11 – in December and January, are preyed upon by snakes and tend to be shy and elusive.

The Tussock Skink is more common in the basalt plains grasslands of the north and west of Melbourne so we are very fortunate to have it in Westgate Park.