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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2020

 
 
     
   
   

 

   
   
 
Moth Skink
   
   

Fig 1


Fig 2


Fig 3

 

 

 

 

Family : SCINCIDAE
Species : Lipinia noctua
Size (snout to vent) : up to 4.7 cm
Size (total length) : up to 12 cm

The Moth Skink occurs in forests and disturbed habitats on islands in eastern Indonesia and the  Pacific Ocean.

In disturbed areas it may be terrestrial in habits, but in good forest it is arboreal, and is often  associated with the crowns of palms (Zug, 2013).

This small skink is easily identified by the pale, yellowish marking on the occiput, which is bordered with dark brown, and connects to a pale stripe running down the middle of the back. (The 'occiput' is the anatomical term for the back part of the skull). There is a broad, dark brown stripe on the flanks which is speckled with pale brown spots. The rest of the body is medium brown, and the tail is orange-brown.

Its body is broad and its tail is thick and rounded in cross-section. Its limbs are short and slender, and its finger and toes are very short. Its scales are smooth and glossy.

It is unclear why this lizard is called a 'Moth Skink'.

In eastern Indonesia its range includes Sulawesi and Maluku. In western and central Pacific it is found on New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, Cook Islands, Hawaii and many other smaller island groups.


Figs 1 to 3 : Specimen from Rarotonga, Cook Islands. It was active late in the afternoon on the buttress of a large tree, close to a beach. It was rather shy, and would quickly retreat to safety when disturbed.


References : H17