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Otago green skink

English name: Otago green skink

Scientific name: Oligosoma aff. chloronoton "Eastern Otago"


Conservation status: At risk, declining


Found: South Island only. Otago and possibly northern Southland, from the Hawkdun Range southwards through the Dunstan Mountains and possibly the Old Man Range and Garvie  Mountains, and eastwards to the Otago Peninsula. 

Otago green skink. Carey Knox

Otago green skink. Carey Knox

Otago green skink. Carey Knox

The Otago green skink is named for the shimmering green band that runs the length of its back, from the nose to the tip of its tail. It’s natural habitat is wide, from the coast to sub-alpine areas, and it is found in tussock grassland, on alpine ridges, screes and eroding river terraces, usually among rock piles or areas with low-growing woody vegetation and shrubs. 


This iridescent skink loves to sun bask. However, it will always remain close to cover. It likes damp retreat sites, and will use the cover of dense vegetation, leaf litter or even burrows to move unseen between sun basking sites and safe retreats. It is active in the daytime, and feeds on invertebrates and soft fruit such as berries. 


It is a medium sized skink, and grows up to 110mm SVL. It has a more slender body than its neighbour, the Southland green skink, and a distinctively long head and slender snout. Its tail is longer than its body (SVL). The centre of its back has shades of often iridescent green or olive, with black flecking. This is bordered with a thinner band of pale brown or cream. Its sides are mostly black, heavily flecked with white or pale brown, and this graduates into pale grey-brown near its underside. Its eyes are dark brown and the soles of its feet are black. 

Otago green skink. Carey Knox


SVL: Snout to vent length. A measurement of size taken from the tip of an animal's nose to the opening of the cloaca (the combined excretory and genital opening) at the base of the tail. It is the common length measurement used for lizards. 


Hitchmough, R. et al. (2015). Conservation Status of New Zealand Reptiles 2015. New Zealand Threat Classification Series 17. Department of Conservation. Wellington, NZ. 



van Winkel et al. (2018). Reptiles and amphibians of New Zealand: A field guide. New Zealand: Auckland University Press. 

Contact us:

Email Grant Norbury at: norburyg@landcareresearch.co.nz


Tel: +64-21-1783604

Central Otago Ecological Trust
PO Box 282
New Zealand






© 2019 Anna Yeoman for the Central Otago Ecological Trust