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Plague skinks found near Picton

Plague skinks found near Picton


Thanks to a sharp-eyed resident, a plague skink (also known as rainbow skink) was captured in Waikawa near Picton in early October. A second skink was subsequently caught at the same location during an investigation by Marlborough District Council, the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Department of
Conservation.


Marlborough District Council Biosecurity Coordinator Jono Underwood says plague skinks are native to Australia but have established and spread rapidly throughout the warmer parts of the North Island. They breed prolifically and are thought to out-compete native lizards for food and territory.


“Plague skinks are a classic hitchhiker - they love to lay their eggs in pot plants, building materials and outdoor landscaping goods. It is therefore important that anyone moving materials like this from north to south checks for signs of plague skinks or other invasive pests such as the Argentine ant,” Jono says.

“As part of our investigation we are working to determine whether the captured plague skinks are escaped hitchhikers or a sign of a more established population.”

“This capture is only one of a handful of plague skink detections in the South Island. There are yet to be any confirmed established populations.”


The small lizard measures 3 to 4 cm from nose to hind legs, excluding the long thin tail. Brown or grey-brown with a dark brown stripe down each side, the species has an iridescent rainbow or metallic sheen when seen in bright light.

Although adults are smaller than native skinks, they look very similar but are
easily distinguished by the single large scale on top of their head, compared to native skinks which have two smaller scales.


For more information visit the Department of Conservation website:
http://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/pests-and- threats/animal-pests/plague- skinks/
If you think you have seen a plague skink, please contact the Marlborough District Council Biosecurity Team Ph: 03 520 7400. Email Biosecurity@marlborough.govt.nz

ENDS.

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