Small, camouflaged and lives under a rock: the Guthega Skink (Liopholis guthega) is not the best-known of Victoria’s endangered species!
The Guthega Skink is an alpine lizard: it is only found at sites more than 1600m above sea level and hibernates through the cold and often snowy winter period. Guthega Skinks live in family groups in burrows and the females give birth to live young (i.e. they don't lay eggs). They are thought to live for at least eight to ten years.
Guthega Skinks live in alpine tussock grasslands, heathlands and snow gum woodlands. They are only found in one area in Victoria – the Bogong High Plains. Another population occurs near Mt Kosciusko in NSW, but these populations have not been connected for millions of years.
Because Guthega 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.
Guthega Skink habitat has also been affected by:
- The construction and maintenance of ski resorts and roads
- Grazing and trampling by exotic herbivores such as feral horses and cattle
- Previous fires (parts of the Bogong High Plains were burnt in 2003 and 2006/07).
Because Guthega Skinks are only found in alpine environments, they are also likely to be affected by climate change.
Saving the Guthega Skink
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 Guthega 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).
How can you help?
- Visit one of our three zoos - Zoos Victoria is a not-for-profit organisation - we rely on the support of our visitors and members. By visiting Healesville Sanctuary, Melbourne Zoo or Werribee Open Range Zoo, you will be supporting our work to fight extinction.
- Act Wild - Join the growing number of Wild Activists taking action for local wildlife. You can get grubby, get creative and find out about local conservation events.