Recently on Zoo Knew, heard every Sunday at 7:15 am on the Weekend Wake-Up Show on CJOB 68 AM, Chris Reid and I discussed skinks!
Corucia zebrata – Also called: prehensile-tailed skink, monkey-tailed skink.
At the Assiniboine Park Zoo:
We have 1.1.4 (one male, one female, and four unknown gender)
- This consists of four adults plus two babies
- All four adults came from the Honolulu zoo in November of 2007.
- The babies were born Oct 20, 2009
- It is the largest of all the skinks.
- It is olive green with darker vertical stripes on the back.
- Their colouring is an adaptation that camouflages them in the dense canopies of these forests to protect them against predation.
- It has a grasping (prehensile) tail
A Bit of Biology and Ecology
This skink is only found in the rain forests on the Solomon Islands.
Length: Approximately 32 inches
- Body: 40 cm (16 in.)
- Tail: 40 cm (16 in.)
- 6-9 inches at birth
Weight: Approximately 500 to 850 grams (1.1 lbs to 1.9 lbs)
- Approx 100 grams at birth
- Gives birth to only one or two extremely large offspring, which may be up to one-half the size of the mother.
- Incubation is 6 to 7 months.
- These lizards show a degree of parental care not observed in other lizards. The parents will actually protect the young in a group called a circulus.
- Corucia zebrata reproduce by viviparous matrotrophy.
- May exceed 15 to 20 years
- Are sexually mature by three years age
Ecology and Conservation
- As with many tropical species, the extensive loss of forests is severely affecting Solomon Islands skinks. These skinks rely entirely upon the trees for food and shelter. Rarely do well in the new forest growth that takes over when the primary forest is felled. They need large mature trees draped in the leaves of a creeper Epipremnum pinnatum (known as the centipede tongavine) in order to survive.
- Because of their low reproductive rates, this species is at risk due to the pet trade and losses caused by predation by introduced (invasive) species.
- The Solomon Islands government has regulated trade on these and other reptiles to help avoid endangerment.
- Unlike other skinks these animals are arboreal, spending little time on the ground.
- Prehensile-tailed skinks are usually found in the oldest trees in the primary forest.
- Solomon Island skinks are primarily folivorous, eating the leaves of many varieties of plants. They also eat fruit, relying on scent to find food.
- These skinks are one of the few that are not able to cast off their tail in defence and later regenerate a new one.
- This skink is able to make a sharp hissing noise and can deliver a savage bite.
- It is nocturnal, spending the day curled up in a hollow tree trunk or hidden in dense foliage..
Compiled by Scott Gray and Jenna Harrison, Zoological Society of Manitoba
References: Bristol Zoo, Sea World, Lincoln Park Zoo, Leeway Corucia Research Center (LCRC)
(Revised March 15, 2010)
Photos copyright by Darlene Stack, Assiniboine Park Zoo