#ThreatenedSpecies of the Week: Lancelin Island Skink

Ctenotus lancelini, or the Lancelin Island Skink, is listed as Vulnerable under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950.

The main identified threats to the Lancelin Island Skink include the alteration of habitat by encroaching exotic weeds, declining native shrubs, and disturbance by humans walking through the habitat. The main potential threats to the Lancelin Island Skink include possible predation by seabirds and increases in exotic grasses leading to a potential fire hazard for the population.

Lancelin Island Skink
Lancelin Island Skink. Picture: Perth Zoo

The Lancelin Island Skink is a small lizard, with adults weighing up to 10g and having a total body length of around 220 mm. The dorsal surface is grey-brown with several indistinct lines of black streaks running along the back from the neck to the base of the tail.

The sides of the body between the legs have three prominent grey-white stripes; a dark brown area between the upper two stripes is adorned with grey-white dashes and dots. The tail is grey-brown with dappled black markings.

Until the mid 1990’s, C. lancelini was only known to occur on Lancelin Island, which lies approximately 100 km north of Perth and is separated from the mainland and the town of Lancelin by 700 m of shallow water. In October 1994, a single individual was found in a Lancelin foreshore reserve, directly opposite the Island. No further individuals have been recorded on the mainland. The current known range of C. lancelini (< 10 ha) remains one of the smallest known of any Australian reptile.

On Lancelin Island this species has been captured in all of the main vegetated habitat types available, including sand and limestone substrates with low shrubs and winter annual grasses.

The species favours areas with nearby slopes facing north to northeast, protecting the area from prevailing southerly winds and providing sunlight early in the day.

Concerns about the status of the Lancelin Island Skink in 1993 led to the establishment of a captive breeding program involving Perth Zoo. The first Lancelin Island Skinks were brought into Perth Zoo in 1995 and breeding took place between 1996 and 2000. Between 2002 and 2004, 165 Lancelin Island Skinks bred at the Zoo were released into the wild.

Information Source: Government of Australia, Department of Environment and Department of Parks and Wildlife Western Australia

Related Posts

Leave a reply