• Maxine Smith

The African Striped Skink

A common visitor to Nyumbani Estate is the African Striped Skink. We often see them scuttling around the deck, sunning themselves or if we're lucky we even may catch a fight between them. They're completely harmless and fascinating to watch.

The African Striped Skink is a reptile related to the lizard family. All reptiles are cold-blooded and require an external heat source to get energy. This is why skinks are often found sunning themselves and are most active during the hottest parts of the day. Their diet consists of small insects such as moths and beetles, and other small invertebrates. Skinks will hide in holes of trees and under bark in order to protect themselves from predators. Their predators include snakes, birds and small mammals such as genets.

Skinks are one of the reptile families that use autotomy to escape from predators. This is the ability to shed its tail voluntarily. Due to nerves, the tail continues to move and wiggle after being shed and diverts the attention of the predator, allowing the skink to escape. The tail will then slowly grow back to normal.

If you do see one, they are worth watching for a while, as they will often catch something.

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