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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2023



Ground Skink (Cambodia)

Species : Scincella sp.  (S. melanosticta or S. reevesii)
Size (snout to vent) : 5.7 cm
Size (total length) : 17 cm ?

These images are of five separate individuals of a species of Ground Skink (Scincella sp.) from Phnom Kulen National Park in central Cambodia.

Based on Ouboter (1986) these skinks are likely to be either the Black-spotted Ground Skink
S. melanosticta, or Reeves's Ground Skink
S. reevesii. Both species are similar in terms of pattern and colour : inspection of scale characteristics would be required to determine the exact species.

All five skinks were found at low elevations
(200 metres or less) near Kbal Spean in the west of the national park, in an area of partly disturbed, wet semi-evergreen forest. They were either active on damp, mossy boulders or tree roots, or on dry sandy soil near the entrance to small caves or rocky overhangs.

The skinks' bodies are slender, their head small and eyes relatively small. The limbs are slender.

The dorsal surface is typically bronze, adorned with black speckling. Along each flank is a dark stripe, broken up by pale spots and mottling. Variation in intensity of colour and patterning is evident between individuals, with larger skinks seeming to be more orange in colour (particularly the tail) with reduced speckling and mottling.

Fully grown males in breeding colours are  reddish-orange.

The known range of the Black-spotted Ground Skink includes Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia (Cardamom Mountains) and Vietnam. Reeves's Ground Skink occurs in Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, southern China and Korea. Thus, either species could reasonably be expected to occur in central Cambodia.

Fig 1 : A fully grown, male ground skink (Scincella sp.) in reddish-orange breeding colours. Photo thanks to Ian Prothero.

Figs 2 to 5 : Four more specimens of a ground skink from the same location as figure 1.

All images from Phnom Kulen National Park in central Cambodia.

Reference : Ouboter, P.E. 1986. A revision of the genus Scincella (Reptilia: Sauria: Scincidae) of Asia, with some notes on its evolution. Zool. Verh. Leiden 229: 1-66.


Fig 1
ゥ  Ian Prothero

Fig 2

Fig 3

Fig 4

Fig 5