Subfamily Lygosominae

Wed May 14, 2014 9:39 pm

Lygosominae is the largest subfamily of skinks in the family Scincidae. The subfamily can be divided into a number of genus groups.
Trachylepis is a skink genus in this subfamily found mainly in Africa. Its members were formerly included in the "wastebin taxon" Mabuya. As defined today, Trachylepis contains the clade of Afro-Malagasy mabuyas.

Africa Wild Reptile Book: Lizards - Photos & Descriptions

Sun Jul 20, 2014 8:00 am

Red-sided Skink Trachylepis homalocephala (Rooisy Skink)
Family: Scincidae. Subfamily: Lygosomatiinae

Image
Breeding male, Cape Town

Size
SVL 60-75 mm; max. SVL 79 mm.

Description
This small, elegant skink has a shiny, brightly striped body.
It has a typical skink appearance with a large body. The snout is pointed and the neck is thick. They have a movable bottom eyelid and this species has frills around the eardrum to protect it while it burrows in the substrate.
It is mainly brown with red running along the side of their body with the odd white scale. Males change colour in the breeding season, developing bright red stripes on their flanks.
In males, the head, body and tail are pencil-grey above with four longitudinal dorso-lateral black stripes on the body. Laterally, a broad black band, which also passes through the eye, separates the bright orange to reddish undersides and limbs from the grey-coloured dorsal parts.
Females lack the orange undersides, although the hind legs are reddish-brown. Like in males, there are four dorso-lateral black stripes and a broader lateral black band passing through the eye. Below this black band, there is a distinct white line, passing underneath the eye in front. In females, the head and dorsal body are olive-grey with the scales outlined in black.
The underside of the body is a pale grey.

Geographical distribution
Indigenous to Southern Africa, where it occurs from Cape Town, eastwards along the coast as far as Mozambique. A few tiny isolated populations also occur in moist mountainous areas further inland.

Image

Habitat
Coastal thicket and leaf litter along coast.

Behaviour
It is ground-living and shelters in tunnels that it digs at the base of bushes or boulders. It also favours any kind of debris to hide underneath.

Diet
It is an active forager and hunts insects.

Reproduction
The Red-sided Skink is an egg-laying species and up to six eggs are laid in summer (late November to early December).

Image © PJL
Garden Route NP, Storms River Mouth

Re: AW Reptile Book: Lizards - Pics & Descriptions

Sat Nov 29, 2014 7:16 pm

Rainbow Skink, Five-lined Skink Trachylepis margaritifera (Bloustert-koppieskink)
Family: Scincidae

Image
Female

Description
Juveniles and females are dark olive-brown to black, with three yellowish bands extending from head to tail where they widen and change into bright blue. Males are olive brown with yellow or orange tails. This medium sized skink can achieve a total length of 25cm. Cylindrical slender bodies are supported by strong sturdy leg, each foot having five toes. The head is pointed, the tail long and tapered with smooth and glossy scales.

Taxonomy
Mabuya quinquetaeniata margaritifera, formerly a subspecies of Trachylepis quinquetaeniata (the Five-lined Mabuya, also known as the Rainbow Skink), was elevated to full species in 1998 and named Trachylepis margaritifera.

Distribution
This species ranges from Uganda and Kenya in the north, to South Africa in the south. It is found throughout Zimbabwe and into eastern Botswana.

Image

Habitat
Confined to rocky outcrops.

Behaviour
This skink is a opportunist in the wild living in agricultural land, scrub land, and following human activity even into houses, around human occupation it can be very common.

Diet
Feeds predominantly on insects.

Reproduction
The female lays 6-10 eggs in summer. The young hatch after 61-62 days. It is possible that 2 clutches are laid per season, particularly in the northern populations.

Links: Bill Branch, William R. Branch: A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa

Image
Female

Image © Amoli
Female

Image © BluTuna
Male

Image © mposthumus
Male

Image © mposthumus
Kruger National Park

Image © Super Mongoose
Kruger National Park, Mopani Camp

Image © Super Mongoose
Kruger National Park, Mopani Camp

Links: IUCN

Africa Wild Reptile Book: Lizards - Photos & Descriptions

Thu Dec 25, 2014 1:47 pm

Western Three-striped Skink Trachylepis occidentalis (Westelike Driestreep Gladde Akkedis)
Family: Scincidae. Subfamily: Lygosomatiinae

Image © ExFmem
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Size
Mean snout-vent length is 81 mm in females and 75 mm in males.

Description
Boldly striped with white lateral stripes from mouth to vent. The upper body is rich red-brown to olive-brown with 3 dark edged stripes. The sides are darker with a white stripe that runs from the lips to the groin. The belly is white. Earhole with spiny lobes.

Geographical distribution
Karroid areas of the Cape, including western Little Karoo valleys, through Namibia and southwest Botswana to southern Angola;

Image

Habitat
Karoo, Kalahari (dry savannah, karroid veld and desert).

Behaviour
Diurnal species. It is terrestrial and hibernates during winter. They run in open, sandy ground. Shelter at night is in a burrow dug in loose soil at the base of scrub bush.

Diet
Mainly insectivorous.

Predators
Potential predators are birds of prey.

Reproduction
Viviparous and/or oviparous species. There are conflicting reports regarding the mode of development of young T. occidentalis and it is possible that females may be either live-bearing or egg-laying within different parts of their range. Branch (1998) reported Kalahari female T. occidentalis lay 5-7 eggs and Auerbach (1987) reported it was oviparous averaging 6-7 per clutch. In contrast, De Waal (1978) reported a female from the Free State with seven undeveloped embryos. It is conceivable that climate may influence the mode of development exhibited by T. occidentalis.

Links: Reproductive cycle of the western three-striped skink, Trachylepis occidentalis (Squamata: Scincidae), from southern Africa. Stephen R. Goldberg.

Re: AW Reptile Book: Lizards - Pics & Descriptions

Wed Feb 11, 2015 5:12 pm

Karasburg Tree Skink Trachylepis sparsa
Family: Scincidae. Subfamily: Lygosomatiinae

Image

Image
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Size
Mean snout-vent length is 70mm.

Description
A dorsally dark brown or black skink, speckled with white.

Geographical distribution
Namibia, South Africa (Northern Cape), common in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

Image

Habitat
Nama-Karoo. Along Acacia stands in the dry riverbeds of the Kalahari. Trees appear to be necessary for this skink, presumably due to a combination of factors such as abundance of prey, refuge from predators that are poor climbers, and retreat from harsh environmental conditions, especially high temperature.

Behaviour
Diurnal species. Often living in large colonies. Resting and basking in trees.

Diet
Insectivorous. It forages actively on the ground.

Predators
Potential predators are birds of prey.

Reproduction
Viviparous species with a mean litter size of 5.

Image
© Dewi
Juv. Greater Krestrel feeding on Skink.

Image © pooky
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Image © Mel
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Image © nan

Africa Wild Reptile Book: Lizards - Photos & Descriptions

Thu May 26, 2016 10:43 am

Kalahari Tree Skink Trachylepis spilogaster
Family: Scincidae. Subfamily: Lygosomatiinae

Image © Tina
Nossob camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Description
SVL 60-80 mm; max. SVL 83 mm. A robust, speckled and striped species. This medium-sized skink has a window in each of the lower eyelids. The subocular is narrowed below and reaches the upper lip. The upper dark brown body has broad, pale dorsal stripes and there are scattered spots and stripes between the stripes. A white belly has irregular dark speckles.

Geographical distribution
Namibia, South Africa (from Kimberley and the Lower Orange River in Northern Cape Province), Western Botswana, Southern Angola.

Image

Habitat
As the name suggests, the Kalahari tree skink is an aboreal species, common in Acacia trees in dry river courses. It is found in a dry savannah type habitat.

Behaviour
An ambush forager.

Diet
Small insects.

Reproduction
Viviparous, females give birth to between 3 and 5 young.

Image © ExFmem
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Africa Wild Reptile Book: Lizards - Photos & Descriptions

Thu May 26, 2016 10:47 am

Common Striped Skink Trachylepis striata
Family: Scincidae. Subfamily: Lygosomatiinae

Image
Kruger National Park, Letaba

Size
The maximum size is about 250 mm (average 180-220 mm).

Description
It is a medium-sized, striped lizard, with a slightly dorso-ventrally flattened head and body and a tail over 50% the total length. The dorsal scales have 3-7 keels, and are arranged in 33-42 rows at mid-body. Colouration differs between the subspecies, from shades of red-brown, olive or pale green, with two pale or yellow dorso-lateral stripes, which fade posteriorly in some lizards. The belly is white. In northern populations the top of the head of breeding males are orange-brown, with a yellow-orange throat.
This skink has a window in each of the lower eyelids. The ear openings are lobed. It has spiny scales on the soles of the feet and a keel on the lamellae beneath the toes.

Geographic distribution
The species is widespread in southern Africa, including extreme southern Angola and Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and parts of central and eastern South Africa.

Image

Diet
It feeds on a variety of insects and other arthropods, particularly beetles, but also vegetable matter, fruit and carrion. It forages on rocks, in trees and on the ground.

Breeding
This skink is viviparous. They lay small clutches of soft shelled eggs, usually in a shallow hole.
Southern populations give birth to a single clutch of 3-9 young in summer (63-76 mm TL). Reproduction may occur throughout the year in northern populations. Growth is relatively fast, sexual maturity is reached in 15-18 months.

Predators
Recorded as prey of Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk (Accipiter rufiventris).

Links: Mark O'Shea,Tim Halliday: Reptiles and Amphibians

Image
Kruger National Park, Shingwedzi

Image

Image
Kruger National Park, Timbavati Picnic spot

Image © BluTuna

Africa Wild Reptile Book: Lizards - Photos & Descriptions

Thu May 26, 2016 11:19 am

Western Rock Skink Trachylepsis sulcata
Family: Scincidae. Subfamily: Lygosomatiinae

Image © nan
Trachylepsis sulcata ssp. sulcata

Image © nan
Female

Size
16-20 cm. Max. snout-to-vent length 81 mm.

Description
Graceful skink with medium-sized flat, slender, shiny body and long, thin tail.
Females and juv. olive-brown with six dirty-gold stripes
Breeding: male jet-black, sometimes with dirty-bronze on hund body and tail, and with heavily speckeld throat

Geographical distribution
Range extending from southwestern South Africa (Karroid areas of the Cape and adjacent), Namibia (including Namib Desert, Kunene Valley, Orange River, Fish River Canyon, Luderitz and Swakopmund) into southwestern Angola.

Image

Habitat:
Rock-dwelling species.

Behaviour
These skinks are actively seen chasing insects over rock outcrops. They shelter in pairs at night, in rock cracks and crevices.

Diet
Invertebrates such as beetles and grasshoppers.

Reproduction
Females lay 3 to 5 eggs from November to March with up to 2 broods per season.

Links: Bill Branch, William R. Branch: A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa

Image © Michele Nel
Richtersveld National Park

Image © Puff Addy
Mountain Zebra National Park

Africa Wild Reptile Book: Lizards - Photos & Descriptions

Thu May 26, 2016 12:46 pm

Variable Skink Trachylepis varia
Family: Scincidae

Image

Image
Mapungubwe National Park, Limpopo

Image © mposthumus

Description
The Variable Skink is a medium sized skink with a white lateral stripe and a rounded snout and a window in each lower eyelid. The subocular reaches the upper lip. The eye openings are oval and have short lobes. They have spiny scales on the soles of the feet, and three keels on the lamellae beneath the toes. The dorsal scales have three strong keels, and are in 30 to 36 rows at midbody. The coloration is variable; the back may be blackish, olive, pale brown or red-brown, with or without black spots. There is always a distinct, white lateral stripe and sometimes other stripes, down the backbone and on the upper flanks. The belly is bluish-white.

Geographical Distribution: From the south-eastern Cape, through East Africa to the Sudan, and west to Namibia, Angola and the Congo (NE Namibia, Botswana, E Republic of South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, SW Mozambique, Zambia, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia, Angola, E/S Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), Malawi, Ethiopia, Eritrea).

Image

Habitat
They inhabit grasslands to arid and mesic savanna.

Behaviour
Diurnal. They forage on broken ground, climbing on rocks and tree bases.

Diet
Their diet consists of insects (grasshoppers, caterpillars and termites), spiders, and occasionally of other lizards. Their prey is grabbed after a short dash from cover.

Reproduction
They are viviporous over most of their range and they give birth to 3 to 5 young in the mid-summer. However, in the Northern Province they have been recorded as laying 6 to 12 eggs in November and December. The hatchlings measure 40 mm to 50 mm in length. The growth of the young is rapid, and both sexes reach maturity at only eight months.

Links: Bill Branch, William R. Branch: A Photographic Guide to Snakes, Other Reptiles and Amphibians of East Africa

Re: AW Reptile Book: Lizards - Pics & Descriptions

Thu May 26, 2016 12:52 pm

Variegated Skink Trachylepis variegata (Spikkelskink)
Family: Scincidae. Subfamily: Lygosomatiinae

Image © Tina
West Coast National Park, Seeberg Bird Hide

Size
It is the smallest of the Trachylepis species that occur in South Africa. Adult snout-vent length varies from 35-55 mm. No sexual size dimorphism occurs.

Description
A small slender skink with well-developed limbs and a tail that is slightly shorter than the body. It has a small pointed head. Coloration is variable. Dorsally, it is normally grey to dark brown with a pair of pale lateral stripes, and is heavily flecked with black. Sometimes there is an additional vertebral stripe. The belly is white. Breeding males develop a reddish-brown blush below the hind legs and on the tail base.

Geographic distribution
Southwestern African endemic. It as an extensive range in the western half of the subcontinent and reaches as far north as southern Angola.

Habitat
It is common within its range and is usually confined to rocky areas. Although associated with rocks, it is not a typical rockdweller in that it seldom shelters in rock crevices, and in that it spends most of its activity time foraging at groundlevel among vegetation at the base of rocks.

Behavior
During periods of inactivity, it will shelter in burrows underneath rocks or logs. Occasionally, it may shelter in rock crevices.

Diet
Like most skinks, it is a diurnal active forager and its diet includes various small invertebrate species.

Breeding
It is viviparous, giving birth to 2-4 young usually during January-March. There are reports of births during August in the Namib Desert. This is not unusual as several species in the dry western parts of the country with unpredictable rainfall display aseasonal reproductive cycles.