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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
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Rough-scaled Sun Skink

Fig 1

Fig 2

Fig 3

Fig 4

Fig 5

Fig 6


Species : Eutropis rugifera
Size (snout to vent) : 10 cm
Size (total length) : > 20 cm 

This small, attractive skink is rather uncommon. It inhabits lowland, forested areas including primary forest, secondary forest, swamp forest and occasionally degraded forest-edge habitat.

It is mainly terrestrial in habits, but is a fairly  adept climber and may be found in low vegetation one or two metres above the forest floor. It often suns itself on the trunks of large trees, typically in a downward-facing posture. It feeds on small invertebrates.

Its body is robust and flattened, and the head is small. Its most obvious feature are the strongly keeled, overlapping scales, which give the lizard a rough, matt, non-reflective appearance: most  of its larger scales bear at least 5 keels.

Its upperside is mainly dark brown towards the front of the body, and this may grade to orange-brown towards the rear. There is a series of thin, broken, yellowish stripes running along the full length of the body. The flanks are yellowish-orange, and the throat and belly are pale.

In Panti Forest, Johor, Peninsular Malaysia, a plain brown form has been documented (Grismer, 2011). Figs 5 and 6 are of a small example of this colour morph.

Eutropis rugifera occurs in southern Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra, Borneo, Java (and possibly Bali).

Figs 1 and 2 : Specimen from the edge of freshwater swamp forest in Singapore. This is the typical downward-facing posture.

Fig 3 : Close-up of a hind foot, showing the long toes and curved claws which provide a strong grip on rough bark.

Fig 4 : Close up of the head showing scale arrangements. Note the numerous, well developed keels  on all body scales. Also note the presence of a mosquito drawing blood from just behind the left eye.

Figs 5 and 6 : Plain colour morph, lacking pale stripes, from Panti Hutan Lipur, Johor, Peninsular Malaysia. It had an estimated snout-vent length of just 3 cm.  The skink was observed warming itself in the morning sun in an area of freshwater swamp forest.

References : H10, H11