Eastern Water Skinks have a long tail and their back is olive-brown above with scattered small black spots on the body and tail . They also have a narrow pale golden or yellow stripe that runs from their eye down the side of their body. The lower flanks are creamy yellow with numerous scattered small black spots.
Most suburban backyards are home to a variety of skinks, but they look similar at a glance. You will most often see them sunning themselves on rocks or bricks, but as they are prey for many birds, they will disappear like lightning if they sense any threats. Due to their timid nature and quick reflexes you may only ever see them dashing for cover as you approach.
These pest-controlling hunters can survive easily in your garden. By including logs, sticks and leaf mulch in your garden you can help to protect them.
Eastern Water Skinks have a long tail and their back is greenish-greyish brown with small black spots. They also have a white stripe that runs from their eye down the side of their body. Most are around 28 cm long.
Eastern Water Skinks live in forests, woodlands and parks and urban gardens in eastern Australia. They shelter in holes and burrows, under logs and rocks, and near streams and ponds feeding on a diet of water beetles and other aquatic insects, snails, tadpoles, spiders, small fishes, smaller lizards and native fruit. Skinks don’t have to eat every day, but will do so when conditions are favourable.
When Eastern Water skinks breed, the males and females mate in spring and as many as nine live babies are born in summer. They create nests in moist soil under objects in the garden. Females lay about five eggs each, sometimes in communal nests which hold dozens of eggs. Eggs look like mini chicken eggs but are soft and rubbery. They become enlarged as they absorb moisture from the surrounding soil.
Birds, big lizards, snakes, turtles and cats like to eat Eastern Water skinks.
Don’t be surprised if:
- a skink drops its tail when handled by you or chased by a predator. This is a survival tactic, as predators often focus on the wriggling tail while the skink escapes. The tail will eventually regrow, but it costs the skink a lot of energy.
- you find several skinks locked in a tangle, holding each other. This may be some form of territorial or mating behaviour.
- skinks occasionally come inside your house. They are timid and difficult to catch, but using a soft-bristled brush and dustpan you can try to catch them and return them to the garden.