Help skinks thrive in your garden
Right now, tribes of sleek-bodied mini-hunters are stalking
pests in your garden. They are garden skinks, and they help to maintain
a natural balance and protect your garden plants. These beautiful little
lizards ask for nothing in exchange for their tireless labour.
Most suburban backyards are home to a variety of skinks,
but they look similar at a glance. Due to their timid nature and quick
reflexes, you may only ever see them dashing for cover as you approach.
Take a moment to observe these creatures up close, and
you'll discover their beauty. Find a comfortable spot to sit quietly where
you usually see skinks, and they should eventually emerge.
Every detail is perfect. The clear dark eyes, ever watchful of danger. The shiny
armour of minute scales, often shimmering like bronze. A tiny mouth, in
some cases hiding a coloured tongue. Look really closely and you'll see
your skink's chest rising and falling as it breathes, poised for action.
You can help skinks thrive in your garden
These pest hunters can survive easily in your garden.
By including logs, sticks and leaf mulch in your garden you can help to
Be a backyard buddy
We can make our neighbourhoods friendly for skinks. It's
easy. All you have to do is care, and take a few simple steps. Step one
is to find out what skinks do and don't like.
- Protected, warm sunny spots – the sun's warmth prepares these cold-blooded
animals for more insect-gathering activity.
- Eating garden insects – crickets, moths and cockroaches are favourites.
- Protection from predators – lizards have a fair chance of escaping
predators if your garden includes logs, small bundles of sticks and
dense ground cover.
But they don't like:
- Their eggs being dug up by gardeners or animals. Skinks make their nests
in moist soil, under objects in the garden. Their eggs are most prone
to being disturbed between early summer and autumn.
- Cats and dogs probing all corners of a garden. Many pets will inevitably
chase or catch skinks, often with fatal consequences.
Be a buddy to skinks
- Accumulate plenty of leaf mulch on garden beds – this provides the ideal
location for skinks to hide and feed.
- Restore a skink nest if you disturb it while digging in the garden.
Lean a small stick in any water bowl, so that skinks drinking there
can climb out.
- Keep your dog away from selected parts of the garden, and keep your
cat inside most of the time.
- Using pesticides – a skink can be poisoned if it eats a contaminated
Don't be surprised if:
- A skink drops its tail when handled by you or chased by a predator. This
is a survival tactic, as predators often focus on the wriggling tail
while the skink escapes. The tail will eventually regrow, but it costs
the skink a lot of energy.
- You find several skinks locked in a tangle, holding each other. This
may be some form of territorial behaviour.
- Skinks end up inside your house. They are timid and difficult to catch,
but using a soft-bristled brush and dustpan you can try to catch them
and return them to the garden.
A few more skink facts
- Several types of skink are common in gardens in NSW. All are around 5 cm to
15 cm in length.
- Skinks don't have to eat every day, but will do so when conditions are favourable.
- They create nests in moist soil under objects in the garden. Females may
lay about five eggs each, sometimes in communal nests which hold dozens
- Eggs look like immaculate mini chicken eggs but are soft and rubbery. They
get bigger as they absorb moisture from the surrounding soil.
Adopt a cuddly Backyard Buddy and help the
animals in the wild.
Call 1800 283 343