A mischievous skink | Telfair’s skink Fact File
The Tefair’s skink, Leiolopisma telfairii, is easily one of my favourite Round Island reptiles. Full of fun and so much personality, these beautiful skinks are always guaranteed to put a smile on my face. With dozens of them constantly around the field station it is hard to imagine the place without them.
Once widespread across mainland Mauritius and most of its offshore islands, this endemic skink was found solely on Round Island when conservationists decided to actively try and save the species in the 1970s. Thanks to intensive management practises, their numbers have now increased by 890% over the past 40 years. Now work is underway to establish new populations on other offshore islands around Mauritius.
Telfair’s skinks are omnivores that eat a range of different food sources, feeding mostly on fallen fruits and invertebrates such as cockroaches and scorpions. They have also been known to feed on young Round Island boas and I have even on multiple occasions come across a group of them crowded around a shearwater egg, drinking the fluids from inside. They are very opportunist feeders (as you can see in the picture above), any food that gets left out will be gone in an instant if a Telfair gets hold of it. I once witnessed one jump up and snatch a half eaten apple straight out of the mouth of a very confused Aldabra giant tortoise.
It is actually unknown exactly how long they live in the wild but the best estimate is around 15 years, based on the lifespan of lizards that are of a similar size. After the mating season, which begins late September, the female skinks will bury a clutch of six eggs in the loose soil. After around 60 days, the skinks will emerge, fully independent of their parents, ready for the rainy season in January.
To discover more fun facts about the Telfair’s skink be sure to check out my latest video!