Short-necked worm-skink

Common name: short-necked worm-skink

Scientific name: Anomalopus brevicollis

Family: Scincidae (skinks)

Conservation status: This species is listed as least concern in Queensland (Nature Conservation Act 1992).


The short-necked worm-skink is a small, limbless, burrowing skink that grows up to 16 cm. Body colouration is light tan to buff, the head and tail are darker bluish-brown, the belly is whitish and the chin and throat are spotted with dark brown. A dark speckle on each scale creates a pattern of dotted lines along the length of the animal. This species has a rounded snout and inconspicuous ear-openings.

Habitat and distribution

This species is a habitat generalist being found in dry sclerophyll forest, monsoon rainforest, permanently moist rainforest and vine scrub on rock outcrops. Research indicates that it has a preference for habitat ecotones (where two habitats meet) between 250-1000 m above sea level. The skink seeks shelter in leaf litter and under rocks and fallen timber on well-draining soils.

This species is endemic to Queensland and is found only in central-eastern Queensland. It is restricted to the northern half of the Mackenzie/Fitzroy/Dawson catchment, from Eungella in the north to Clermont in the west and south to Theodore.

Life history and behaviour

The short-necked worm-skink is a secretive burrowing species and when disturbed, it will burrow deep into soft substrates or rock crevices. The diet of this species is unknown, although other members of the Anomalopus genus feed on arthropods.

Short-necked worm-skinks lay up to 2 eggs per clutch between August and September.

Threatening processes

Potential threats include:

  • Inappropriate fire regimes which can potentially alter ecosystem structure and impact on the skink's habitat requirements by removing food sources or shelter sites.
  • Habitat loss due to land clearing and thinning operations.
  • Grazing effects and inappropriate road side management.

Recovery actions

  • Conduct field surveys to clarify the extent of the species geographic range and its habitat preferences.
  • Identify key habitat throughout the Queensland Brigalow Belt (QBB) bioregion and priority areas for conservation in local government regions and develop management guidelines to protect these areas on private and state controlled land.
  • Negotiate management agreements with landholders that are in line with recommended management guidelines (e.g. fire management and weed control requirements) to protect key habitat and priority areas.
  • Implement monitoring programs in key habitat and priority conservation areas.
  • Protect reptile habitat on the stock route network and shire roadsides and reserves.

What can you do to help this species

  • Become involved in community-based on-ground projects (e.g. fencing remnants to reduce grazing impacts, weed and feral predator control, reptile monitoring and field surveys) and help protect habitat across a suite of land tenures, particularly on non-reserved lands.
  • Help protect threatened reptiles in the QBB bioregion by supporting integrated pest management activities which seek to address weed threats.
  • In areas of known and potential habitat, implement appropriate grazing regimes to alleviate grazing pressure (if confirmed as a threat).
  • Report sightings of this and other threatened reptiles to the Queensland Government WildNet Team ()

Further information

Cogger, HG 2000, Reptiles and amphibians of Australia (sixth edition), Reed New Holland, Sydney.

Ehmann, H 1992, Encyclopedia of Australian animals: reptiles, Angus & Robertson, Pymble, New South Wales.

Wilson, S 2005, A field guide to reptiles of Queensland, Reed New Holland Press, Sydney, New South Wales.

Wilson, S and Swan, G 2008, A complete guide to reptiles of Australia, Revised edition, Reed New Holland Publishers, Chatswood, New South Wales.