Oligosoma townsi

Hauraki skink

Oligosoma townsi
(Chapple et al., 2008)

Hauraki skink (Hauturu / Little Barrier Island). © Tim Harker
Image attribution
Hauraki skink (Hauturu / Little Barrier Island). © Tim Harker
Herpetofaunal category
NZ Skinks
Species complex
Conservation Status
At Risk - Recovering
Previous scientific names
Cyclodina oliveri
Common names
Hauraki skink,
Town's skink.

Length: SVL up to 95mm, with the tail being equal to the body length

Weight: unknown

Description

A beautiful skink restricted to several islands within the Hauraki Gulf. It is closely related to the marbled skink (Oligosoma oliveri) of the Poor Knight Islands, and the Coromandel skink (Oligosoma pachysomaticum) which is restricted to several islands off the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula. The upper surfaces range from dark brown through to tan brown, with cream and black flecking. The lateral surfaces are heavily blotched with black particularly over the front half of the body, with cream or white flecking. Lower surfaces are cream, grey, or light orange, black flecking is heavy on the throat fading onto or absent from the stomach. As with the other members in the marbled skink complex a distinctive black-edged teardrop is present, as well as a denticulate pattern.

Identification

Geographically isolated from the closely related marbled, Whitaker’s skink (Oligosoma whitakeri), and Coromandel skinks (Oligosoma pachysomaticum). Differentiated from ornate skinks by the heavy dark blotching on the lateral surfaces, as well as by the much larger size and more robust build.

Distribution

Confined to several islands in the Hauraki Gulf including the Barrier islands, Hen and Chicken group, and the Mokohinau group.

Diet

As with other native skinks, this species is likely to be omnivorous feeding on invertebrates, and small fruits.

Ecology and Habitat

A nocturnal species that occurs in coastal, and lowland habitats. It may utilise seabird burrows as refugia.

Life Expectancy

Unknown.

Social Structure

Solitary.

Breeding Biology

Viviparous. Reproductive biology unknown.

Disease and threats

The vast majority of populations occur on pest-free islands, however, the population occurring on Great Barrier Island/Aotea, is exposed to mammalian pests (rats, feral cats, pigs etc.), and habitat degradation has resulted in the population becoming severely compromised.

References

Chapple, D. G., Daugherty, C. H., & Ritchie, P. A. (2008). Comparative phylogeography reveals pre-decline population structure of New Zealand Cyclodina (Reptilia: Scincidae) species. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society95(2), 388-408.

Chapple, D. G., Patterson, G. B., Gleeson, D. M., Daugherty, C. H., & Ritchie, P. A. (2008). Taxonomic revision of the marbled skink (Cyclodina oliveri, Reptilia: Scincidae) species complex, with a description of a new species. New Zealand Journal of Zoology35(2), 129-146.

Chapple, D. G., Ritchie, P. A., & Daugherty, C. H. (2009). Origin, diversification, and systematics of the New Zealand skink fauna (Reptilia: Scincidae). Molecular phylogenetics and evolution52(2), 470-487.

de Lange, P. J., Cameron, E. K., & Taylor, G. A. (1995). Flora and fauna of Tatapihi (Groper) Island, Mokohinau Islands. Tane35, 69-94.

Hitchmough, R., Barr, B., Knox, C., Lettink, M., Monks, J. M., Patterson, G. B., Reardon, J. T., van Winkel, D., Rolfe, J., & Michel, P. (2021). Conservation status of New Zealand reptiles, 2021New Zealand threat classification series 35. Wellington: New Zealand Department of Conversation.

McCallum, J. (1980). Reptiles of the northern Mokohinau Group. Tane26, 53-59.

McCallum, J., & Harker, F. R. (1982). Reptiles of Little Barrier Island. Tane28, 21-27.

Melzer, S., Hitchmough, R., van Winkel, D., Wedding, C., Chapman, S., & Rixon, M. (2022). Conservation Status of Reptile Species in Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland. Auckland Council technical report TR2022/3.

Newman, D. G., & Towns, D. R. (1985). A survey of the herpetofauna of the northern and southern blocks, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand15(3), 279-287.

Towns, D. R. (1999). Cyclodina spp. skink recovery plan 1999–2004: Threatened species recovery plan 27. Wellington: Department of Conservation.

van Winkel, D., Baling, M., & Hitchmough, R. (2018). Reptiles and Amphibians of New Zealand: A Field Guide. Auckland University Press, pp 376.

Worthy, T. H. (1987). Osteological observations on the larger species of the skink Cyclodina and the subfossil occurrence of these and the gecko Hoplodactylus duvaucelii in the North Island, New Zealand. New Zealand journal of zoology14(2), 219-229.