White's skink

White's skink (Liopholis whitii), also known commonly as White's rock skink, is a species of lizard in the family Scincidae. The species is endemic to Australia.

White's skink
White's Skink, Freycinet peninsula, cropped.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Scincidae
Genus: Liopholis
L. whitii
Binomial name
Liopholis whitii
(Lacépède, 1804)
Liopholis whitii distribution.png


The specific name, whitii, is in honour of Irish surgeon and naturalist John White.[3]

Geographic rangeEdit

L. whitii is widespread in south-eastern Australia, including Tasmania and many Bass Strait islands.[2]


The preferred natural habitats of L. whitii are forest, shrubland, and rocky areas, at altitudes from sea level to 1,200 m (3,900 ft).[1] White's skinks prefer a habitat with rocks, shrubby heathland and minimal human environmental disturbance.[citation needed]


The White's skink is a stocky slow-growing medium sized species, growing to a maximum snout-to-vent length (SVL) of about 90 mm (3.5 in). That matures at ~75 mm (SVL) in both sexes, this size is typically achieved at 3 years,.[4] but may be sooner within captivity.

Whites' Skinks are omnivorous, capable of eating meat, insects and plant matter.

They are variable in colour and pattern, some populations display no back pattern and/or lip stripes. Their base colours found on the central stripe range from grey, brown and red.[citation needed]

The sides of their body is patterned with black and white rosettes backgrounded with a grey/brown gradient. Their underbelly is a pale peachy orange which increases in colour intensity towards the tail and on the underside of the limbs.

Their back is patterned with three bars, the middle being solid brown, and parallel on either side two black bars with white spots towered in a single sequence that terminate at the base of the head and tail. Their head and tail are a colour, typically brown with no patterning and minimal scale outlining present.

Most specimens have black stripes on both sides of their lips that run from their yellow lined eye, down to a random speckling on the bottom of the chin. All individuals have varying lip patterns, and some do not have any at all.[citation needed]


E. whitii is highly variable and may be a complex of closely related species[5][6]


L. whitii are a burrowing polygynous (1 male per group of females) species, often digging or reusing complex tunnels. They live in small, sometimes temporary familial groups, with up to 5 females per male. However the females do sometimes mate with males outside the group. [7]

They are a highly aggressive species that will viciously attack other individuals that they do not recognize or 'like' via scent. This includes outside females that the group could potentially include, making them very difficult to pair. Adults also will sometimes cannibalize rival juveniles they do not recognize, this includes tails.[citation needed]


L. whitii are viviparous and give birth to live young.[2] Females will mate in September-October and give birth in late January-February over a period of 2-10 days. Litter size ranges from 1-4.[4]

Offspring are highly aggressive from the start and will fight amongst themselves to chase away their rival neonates from the group. Juveniles will stay within the protection their family/parent until they reach ~half the size of an adult. At this stage, the adult will chase the juvenile out of the group by attacking it on sight.[citation needed]


Two subspecies are recognized as being valid, including the nominotypical subspecies.[2]

Nota bene: A trinomial authority in parentheses indicates that the subspecies was originally described in a genus other than Egernia.


  1. ^ a b Shea G, Cogger H, Greenlees M (2018). "Liopholis whitii ". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2018. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-1.RLTS.T178520A101748542.en.
  2. ^ a b c d Species Liopholis whitii at The Reptile Database www.reptile-database.org.
  3. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Egernia whitii, p. 284).
  4. ^ a b Chapple, David G.; Keogh, J. Scott (2005). "Complex mating system and dispersal patterns in a social lizard, Egernia whitii". Molecular Ecology. 14 (4): 1215–1227. doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2005.02486.x. ISSN 1365-294X. PMID 15773948. S2CID 12137273.
  5. ^ Wildlife of Tasmania – White’s Skink
  6. ^ Cogger HG (1979). Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. Reed: Sydney. ISBN 0-589-50108-9.
  7. ^ Chapple, David G.; Keogh, J. Scott (2005). "Complex mating system and dispersal patterns in a social lizard, Egernia whitii". Molecular Ecology. 14 (4): 1215–1227. doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2005.02486.x. ISSN 1365-294X. PMID 15773948. S2CID 12137273.

Further readingEdit

  • Boulenger GA (1887). Catalogue of the Lizards in the British Museum (Natural History). Second Edition. Volume III ... Scincidae ... London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers). xii + 575 pp. + Plates I-XL. (Egernia whitii, pp. 135–136).
  • Cogger HG (2014). Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, Seventh Edition. Clayton, Victoria, Australia: CSIRO Publishing. xxx + 1,033 pp. ISBN 978-0643100350.
  • Lacépède (1804). "Mémoire sur plusieurs animaux de la Nouvelle-Hollande dont la description n'a pas encore été publiée ". Annales du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris 4: 184–211. (Scincus whitii, new species, p. 209). (in French).
  • Wilson S, Swan G (2013). A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia, Fourth Edition. Sydney: New Holland Publishers. 522 pp. ISBN 978-1921517280. (Liopholis whitii, p. 332).