A rainbow skink was found by a school girl on Emerson St. central Napier last week. The Department of Conservation (DOC) wants members of the public to inform them of any further sightings.
Rainbow skinks are invasive pests and pose a threat to our rare native skinks and geckos. Bryan Welch from DOC says “these Australian natives have created havoc among native lizard and insect populations where they invaded. We don’t want this to happen in Hawke’s Bay”. “Rainbow skinks are able to reproduce very quickly reaching high population numbers in a short time. They outcompete our native lizards and insects for habitat and food.” he said.
Rainbow skinks look very similar to several native skink species but can be distinguished by one unique feature. The rainbow skink scale pattern on their head displays one large central scale, whereas New Zealand native skinks have two smaller scales.
They are small lizards with bodies measuring about 3-4cm long excluding the long thin tail. The skink is brown or grey-brown with a dark brown stripe down each side and an iridescent rainbow or metallic sheen when seen in bright light.
Rainbow skinks were first recorded in Auckland during the 1960s, probably arriving accidentally in cargo. They are now widespread from Northland to Waikato and the Bay of Plenty. Hawke’s Bay has had one previous incursion of a rainbow skink in 2006 but the species was also successfully intercepted.
DOC wants people to contact them on 06 834 3111 or 0800 362 468 if they see one. If possible, capture it, keep in a safe container and take a photo to help with obtaining the correct identification.
Many of New Zealand's approximately 35 native skink species are in decline, or, in some cases, have become locally extinct through introduced predators such as rats, cats, mustelids and hedgehogs. Rainbow skinks, an Unwanted Organism under the Biosecurity Act 1993, are yet another threat to our declining native lizard populations.
Together we can prevent the rainbow skink from spreading.