The mountain habitats of the Alpine She-oak Skink (Cyclodomorphus praealtus) are so isolated that they are sometimes described as ‘sky islands’ – each mountain top is separated from the others by a ‘sea’ of lower-altitude habitat that is unsuitable for this species.
Alpine She-oak Skinks are only found in four locations in Victoria, as well as a scattering of locations in NSW, all above 1500m in altitude. Genetic differences between the Victorian and NSW populations suggest that these populations have not been connected for millennia, and the species is listed as endangered nationally.
Alpine She-oak Skinks hibernate over winter and are known to live for more than five years in the wild. Their life history is not well known, but individuals are thought to mature at 2–3 years of age, mate in late spring/early summer and give birth to 2–9 young in mid to late summer.
Because Alpine She-oak Skinks have such a restricted distribution, they are very vulnerable to events such as fire. A large fire could potentially kill many individuals. It would also destroy the understorey vegetation, and so make any remaining lizards very vulnerable to predators such as hawks and foxes.
Alpine She-oak Skink habitat has also been affected by:
Zoos Victoria is working to change the fate of threatened species and is committed to Fighting Extinction – we will ensure that no more Victorian terrestrial vertebrate species become extinct.
Zoos Victoria is planning to develop captive-breeding and husbandry protocols for the Alpine She-oak Skink. We will then be able to help rescue and recover this species if there is a serious and immediate threat to a wild population (such as a bushfire).