Magnetic Island dwarf skink

Common name: Magnetic Island dwarf skink

Scientific name:  Pygmaeascincus sadlieri

Family: Scincidae

Conservation status: This species is listed as Vulnerable in Queensland (Nature Conservation Act 1992) and it is ranked as a low priority under the department's Back on Track species prioritisation framework.

Description

The Magnetic Island dwarf skink is a small, ground dwelling skink that grows up to 63 mm. The species is marked with shades of brown with some gold flecking and an oily bluish sheen over some of the scales. The pale mid-lateral stripe is absent, although a narrow side strip on the upper side is present and the flanks (sides) are dark brown.

Habitat and distribution

The Magnetic Island dwarf skink is endemic to Queensland and is known only from Magnetic Island, off Townsville. The species may occur on parts of the nearby mainland, but no targeted surveys have been conducted to confirm this.

Basic habitat requirements are poorly understood. Most surveyed species have been from the low lying areas on Magnetic Island. Within the lowland areas, the skink appears to prefer seasonally dry Melaleuca swamps and areas with thick leaf litter. It is not known whether the skink occurs on the granite boulder hills that dominate the island.

Life history and behaviour

Very little is known of the biology and ecology of this species. This species reduces its exposure to predators by warming up underneath sun-warmed leaf litter. When disturbed, they are quick to vanish under leaf litter and even into friable soil.

Breeding biology of the species is unknown, but it is thought to be similar to a closely related species (Pygmaeascincus timlowi) which is reproductively active during the early wet season and lays one to two eggs per clutch.

The diet of this species is not known although it possibly feeds on insects and other arthropods.

Threatening processes

No known threats have been documented but feral and domestic cats are a potential threat to this species in and around urban parts of Magnetic Island, combined with loss of structural habitat complexity (Vanderduys 2012).

Recovery actions

  • Conduct field surveys to clarify the extent of the species geographic range and its habitat preferences.
  • Identify key habitat and priority areas for conservation and develop management guidelines to protect and appropriately manage these areas.
  • Research the species biology, ecology (e.g. preferred fire regimes) and population dynamics to inform management and guide conservation efforts.

Related information

Cogger, HG. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. Reed Books, Port Melbourne.

Vanderduys, E. 2012. ‘Magnetic Island skink’ in Queensland’s threatened animals. CSIRO Publishing, Victoria.

Wilson, S., and Swan, G. 2010. A complete guide to reptiles of Australia. 3rd edition. New Holland Publishers, Sydney.