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Desert skink

The Great Desert Skink (Egernia kintorei) is a species of skink in the genus Egernia native to the western half of Australia. They are burrowing lizards and extremely social.


These Australian skinks are native to the south western quarter of the Northern Territory and dispersed slightly throughout most of Western Australia. As the name suggests, they are desert reptiles, living in burrows. The burrows can extend up to 12m in length and can have as many as 20 entrances.

Wild status

Vulnerable conservation status

Vulnerable (IUCN 2.3)


Great desert skinks are somewhat medium-sized skinks, reaching an average snout-to-vent length of 19cm. They have smooth, small, glossy scales and are mostly rust-colour on the top of their body, with their belly a vanilla colour. They have relatively large circular eyes and a short snout.

Extra fun facts

Researchers have made a discovery with these skinks - they appear to work in cooperation with one another to build and take care of their burrows, even digging out specific rooms for use as a defecatorium.

Mates are faithful to one another and always mate with the same lizard, although 40% of males have been documented to mate with other females.

The tunnels are mostly excavated by adults, while juvenile lizards contribute small pop holes to the system. DNA analysis has shown that immature lizards live in the same burrow with their siblings, regardless of age difference. The study, carried out in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, also revealed that all immature lizards were full siblings in 18 of 24 burrow systems. Researchers have confirmed that the lizards are family-based and keep the juveniles in the tunnel system until they mature.

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