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Plague skinks

Plague skinks

Updated 9 August 2019 1:03pm

Plague skink
Lampropholis delicata
Photo: Crown copyright DOC

Why are plague skinks a problem?

The natural distribution rate of plague skinks, sometimes known as rainbow skinks, is unknown. But the greatest incursion threat to the Wellington region is an accidental introduction by humans. Plague skinks present a potential biodiversity threat to the region. Given the number of indigenous lizards present in the region, the plague skink presents a threat through both direct and indirect competition. Plague skinks are known to be generalist feeders and can live in a broad range of habitats, with the potential to out-compete indigenous species. As there are a number of pest-free islands in the Wellington region, the plague skink would pose a new threat to the biodiversity of these sanctuaries. Any vertebrate poison for plague skinks would also target native species, making control difficult.

Description and background

Small brown lizard, with a dark band running down each side of the body, sometimes bordered by lighter colours. Plain, light coloured undersides. Adults grow up to 5.5cm in length. Indigenous to Australia, the plague skink was introduced accidentally into Auckland in the 1960s. It is now well established in Northland, Auckland and the Waikato. The plague skink is not currently known to be present in the lower North Island, but given the vegetation and climate of the region, a successful incursion is likely.

What can I do?

Any suspected sighting of plague skinks should be reported to Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry NZ or Greater Wellington. If a domestic cat brings in a live or dead skink which is suspected to be a plague skink, keep the animal in a jar for identification.

Additional information can be found at –

DOC's plague skinks information

Bionet - information about pests and disease in New Zealand