Bougainville’s Skink Lerista bougainvillii

Lizards of Victoria series


Bougainville’s Skink, Lerista bougainvillii, is greyish brown, with a dark stripe commencing on the snout and continuing through the eye to the base of the tail. Its side and under surfaces are cream coloured, with numerous dark flecks, especially on the flanks. Its tail is usually orange in, particularly in juveniles. Snout vent length to 70 mm.

Bougainville’s Skink, Lerista bougainvillii

Bougainville’s Skink
Photographer: Peter Robertson / Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty. Ltd.

Distribution and habitat

The Bougainville’s Skink is a common and widespread species. It is semi-fossorial and in the Melbourne area, is usually found hiding under rocks.


Bougainville’s Skinks are active by day and feed on small invertebrates. It ranges from bearing live young in Tasmania to laying well developed eggs in a membrane in South Gippsland and egg laying at the northern limits of its Victorian range.

Further Reading

Cogger, H. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. Reed Books.

Wilson, S. & Swan, G. 2003. Reptiles of Australia. Princeton University Press.

Comments (6)

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kay 25 November, 2009 12:59
Need a photo of large skink in Tasmania . Found one that is dark brown and chocolate in wide bands.
Discovery Centre 26 November, 2009 09:52

Hello Kay. Like several skink species, Bougainville's Skink is found in both Victoria and Tasmania. For a full list of Tasmanian lizards, along with photographs, see the following two websites: here, at Tasmania's Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, and here, at the Parks & Wildlife Service, Tasmania. Hope this helps!  

nick 16 June, 2011 00:19
hi, my brother recently found one of these skinks and had it in a tank for a couple of hours before i found out and told him you cant keep wild reptiles. Before we let him go i gave it some crickets i had for my gecko and while it was hunting them it was shaking the tip of its tail rapidly like a rattlesnake and slithering in and out of the sand with its legs folded up. Im just wondering is it common for this species to do this? If so, why do they shake their tail like that? Wouldn't it attract predators? If you find the time to reply please do so to my email. thanks, nick.
Discovery Centre 21 June, 2011 17:13

Hi Nick,

It is an interesting behaviour you observed with the skink. It is something that is often seen in both skinks and geckos. One reason why the skink may have been doing this is as a distraction. If it has to move to find food the skink would prefer a predator to attack the tail (which can drop off) and survive rather than catching the whole skink. This may be one of the reasons why this skink has such a brightly coloured tail as well.

The other reason why these lizards do this can be for courtship but the fact you observed it while it was feeding would make me think it is for distraction instead.

Brock 18 March, 2017 22:23
i have got three and have had them for three days ive given them crickets and have this vitament supliment and i read that you could give it to skinks just wanted to make sure they could
Discovery Centre 8 April, 2017 16:29

Hi Brock,

Skinks in captivity should be offered a healthy balanced diet, depending on what is being fed, a vitamin and calcium supplement can also be offered. A range of insects, protein such as cat or dog food, and chopped fruit and vegetables should be offered; quantities will be dependent on species.

Without know what the vitamin supplement you have, we strongly recommend that you practice responsible pet ownership by researching the product further before giving it to your skinks.

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