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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
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Long-tailed Sun Skink

Fig 1

Fig 2

Fig 3

Fig 4

Fig 5


Species : Eutropis longicaudata
Size (snout to vent) : 13.5 cm
Size (total length) : 40 cm

The Long-tailed Sun Skink occurs in heavily disturbed lowland habitats such as agricultural areas, parklands, roadsides and grassy areas. It is rarely found in dense forest, thus its original habitat was probably forest edge.

The species is easily identified by the impressively long tail, which measures twice the length of the head and body. This feature serves to distinguish the species from the Many-lined Sun Skink Eutropis multifasciata, which has a relatively shorter tail.

Unlike the Many-lined Sun Skink, there appears to be little variation in coloration and patterning, which comprises a medium brown dorsum, flecked with random pale spots, a thick dark stripe along the upper flank, a creamy stripe along the lower flank and a pale belly. The tail is plain brown.

As with other Eutropis skinks, the body scales are keeled (i.e. finely ridged longitudinally), though for this species the keels are not strongly developed. The legs are relatively short.

The species is most easily seen mid to late morning as it warms itself in the sun, often positioning itself on rocks or fallen trees. It appears to be less commonly seen in the hot, afternoon sun. At night it remains concealed.

It is known to feed on insects which inhabit grassy areas, such as grasshoppers, and reportedly also consumes earthworms if available.

Eutropis longicaudata occurs in southern China (including Taiwan and Hong Kong), Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Peninsular Malaysia (where it appears restricted to areas east of the main mountain spine running down the peninsula). Occasional examples turn up in Singapore, probably imported somehow, but the species is considered to be non-native there.

Fig 1 : Close-up of a large specimen showing the clear demarcation between the brown dorsum, the broad, dark stripe on the upper flanks, and the creamy lower flanks.

Fig 2 : A smaller specimen emerges from the undergrowth to bask on a log.

Fig 3 : Note the long tail, which measures twice the length of the head-body.

Fig 4 : Full-grown specimen with somewhat flattened body.

(Figs 1 to 4 from Taman Negara, Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia).

Fig 5 : Specimen from Cat Ba Island, Vietnam in which the dark stripe on the flanks is largely absent. 

References : H11, H12