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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Singapore Swamp Skink

Fig 1

Fig 2

Fig 3

Fig 4

Fig 5


Species : Tytthoscincus temasekensis
Size (snout to vent) : up to 3.5 cm
Size (total length) : up to 7.6 cm

This small, highly elusive skink appears to favour freshwater swamp forest or peat swamp habitat, and is typically encountered next to shallow streams. It seems likely that it spends much of its time hidden amongst or beneath streamside leaf litter, and is only noticed when it is accidentally disturbed.

It is a strong swimmer and will readily take to the water, or even submerge itself, as a means of evasion. Little more is known of its ecology, but there is a record of the species having been predated by a Big-eye Green Whip Snake Ahaetulla mycterizans.

Its body is of typical Tytthoscincus form, being elongate and circular or slightly dorso-ventrally flattened in cross-section. Its limbs are short and slender, and its body scales are smooth.

Its dorsal ground colour is dark brown, and there are faint pale markings extending in lines from the head to the base of the tail. The ventral surface is beige. Juveniles are more pale than adults, and are somewhat pinkish.

Tytthoscincus temasekensis occurs in  Singapore, where it is uncommon and restricted by habitat. Similar skinks have also been found near Tanjung Malim, Perak, Peninsular Malaysia.

Fig 1 : Singapore Swamp Skink partly immersed in a shallow stream filled with leaf-litter : the eyes and nostrils are above the water surface.

Fig 2 : Microhabitat of the specimen shown in Figure 2 - a clear, shallow stream in a localized area of freshwater swamp.

Fig 3 : Side view of the same specimen : note the tiny limbs and feet which are typical of the genus.

Figs 4 and 5 : Juvenile specimen, with head-body length of less than 2 cm.

All photos from Singapore.

Reference :

Grismer, L. L., Wood Jr, P. L., Lim, K. K., & Liang, L. J. (2017). A new species of swamp-dwelling skink (Tytthoscincus) from Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, 65, 574-584.