Video: Initiative To Save Our Skinks

December 5, 2011

The critically endangered Bermuda Skink — or Bermuda Rock Lizard — is one of the rarest lizards in the world.

Adult males and females have shiny brown or black body scales, a pale belly and an orange throat patch.

They can grow up to eight-inches long. Juveniles have coppery scales, a pale belly, and have black and cream coloured stripes running down both sides of their body.

Baby skinks have bright blue tails, which they use to confuse predators who bite the tail instead of their head. The skink then escapes and grows a new tail.

Skinks usually stay on the ground or crawl up onto rocks to bathe in the sun, and are found living in small patches all over Bermuda on the rocky shorelines as well as on small islands

Bermuda Conservation Department Skink Video

While the total island’s population of skinks is unknown, most live in Spittal Pond Nature Reserve and on the Castle Harbour Islands.

If you see a skink in the wild, you are asked to report it by contacting Bermuda’s Department of Conservation Services.

Researchers believe Bermuda served as an evolutionary “life raft”  for the island’s unique species of skink when it became extinct in North America millions of years ago.

The skink thrived here after specimens were carried to the island from the North American continent, presumably by storms or sea currents.

Bermuda Conservation Department Skink Video

“Although we can only speculate how these colonising individuals dispersed over water, we note that both hurricanes and ocean currents are known to transport living lizards and debris to and from islands, and that the powerful Gulf Stream ocean current runs along eastern North America to the mid-Atlantic Ocean,” according to a recently published research paper.

Increasingly rare, Bermuda Skinks face many threats. Loss of natural habitat through building and development, predation from rats, cats and kiskadees, and entrapment in litter —  like discarded bottles — all affect the survival of our skinks. The Bermuda Skink is protected under the Bermuda Protected Species Act.

The Bermuda Skink Project has been run out of the Bermuda Museum, Aquarium & Zoo since 2001, a broad ecological investigation of the threatened lizard and its habitats. A recovery plan has been drafted in an attempt to save the endemic species from extinction.

The Dept of Conservation Services 33-page Skink Recovery Plan report is below:

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