Common Name: Prehensile-tailed Skink

Scientific Name: Corucia zebrata

Species Characteristics

This large skink measures around 75cm from head to tail. It has a large head, robust body, slender tail with well developed limbs. Color varies, ranging from pale olive green to grey green to khaki with lighter and darker flecks present, the iris is golden yellow to lime green.

Habitat & Range

Found in the Solomon Islands archipelago, from Buka to Makira Islands. It is arboreal and rarely encountered on the ground. It is nocturnal and is found resting in tree hollows and crevices, its favored tree habitat is the strangler fig and also other large trees with dense foliage. It has a preference for the young leaves and flowers of climbing epiphytes.

Fascinating Facts

This skink is believed to be the largest in the world and is endemic to a group of islands in the South Pacific. This arboreal lizard occupies the niche of a small monkey on continental forest ecosystems and is also able to hang and climb using its prehensile tail. Corucia zebrata is classed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List and the species is locally threatened mainly due to habitat loss and over harvesting. There are currently no conservation initiatives that target this species. Not only is this animal important naturally but it is also culturally important as being the totem species for some tribes and also being an important source of bush meat. Due to the exotic animal trade from the Solomon Islands in the 1980's this species can now be found in many pet shops and zoos throughout Europe and North America.

Edgar Pollard, MSc

Edgar Pollard is from the Solomon Islands and his background lies in environmental science with a focus on conservation and biodiversity. His interests include geography, herpetology, ethnology and has an interest in working with rural communities and spending time in the forest.