Garden Skinks

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Garden Skink Photo Minerva95aus (Flickr)Slinky Skink!

No matter where you are in Australia, this little buddy is in your backyard right now. The sun will be drawing them out over the next few months so keep an eye out. They may be shy and quick to hide when you approach, but garden skinks are some of the most common and well known buddies in Australian backyards.

This month, don't be surprised if you see a mini wrestling match going on under the leaves. Male skinks are highly territorial and aggressively attack other males during spring. You might even find several skinks locked together in a big jumble, all holding on to each other. Odd to see, but this is thought to be a kind of territorial behaviour.

Click to watch a video of a skink territory battle!

Skinks are great backyard buddies as their sleek bodies and quick reflexes make them superb little hunters of insects. Having skinks around will help control numbers of crickets, moths and cockroaches.

You can encourage skinks around your place by providing rocks, wood such as logs and sticks, and by leaving leaf litter around for them to hide amongst.

Take care of your skinks by keeping your cat indoors. Over the course of a year, a cat can kill thousands of skinks!

All kinds of skinks love to sunbathe on rocks, pavers and logs in the garden. They are quite curious and if you are quiet and wait patiently outdoors, you might see a few come out to investigate, chase an insect or two, fight with each other, or just take up a prime sunbaking position.

Skinks are usually brown or grey and can have different markings or stripes depending on the species. From 8 to 10 cm in length, garden skinks are small little buddies. Have a look at a skink right up close in this video.

Skinks have a pretty amazing defence mechanism. If a bird or other predator is about to get them, a skink can drop its tail, which continues to wriggle wildly. The predator usually goes after the tail, leaving the skink free to escape to safety. This is really a last resort for the skink, as it costs it a lot of energy to regrow its tail, and it may take many months.

DID YOU KNOW?Skinks can have more than one tail! This happens when a tail is damaged but not lost, and a new tail starts to sprout from the wound - resulting in a fork-tailed skink! Click here to see a picture of a fork tailed skink. Skinks can have as many as five five tails as a result of multiple injuries.

TIPAvoid using insecticide or pesticide around your place, as you will be reducing the prey for little buddies like skinks. You could also have an adverse affect on other creatures you don't intend to target with your sprays.