Fun Chevron Skink Facts For Kids

Aashita Dhingra
Nov 14, 2022 By Aashita Dhingra
Originally Published on Sep 02, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Check out these amazing chevron skink facts!
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.2 Min

The chevron skink (Oligosoma homalonotum), also known as niho taniwha in Māori, can be considered one of the most mysterious species of lizards out of all the reptiles and amphibians of New Zealand. It belongs to one of the eight groups of New Zealand lizards that are native to New Zealand. This lizard is endemic to the Great Barrier and Little Barrier Islands in the Hauraki Gulf. Research has shown that the chevron skinks were once found in the North Island in New Zealand too. In the 19th century, specimens were found in Hokianga and Auckland, but they are not found in those places any more as they were probably driven to extinction by predators. Even in the Great Barrier Island and Little Barrier Island, this species could have been found in 1906, but due to some error, it was mislabeled as belonging to the Flat Island. It was only rediscovered on the Great Barrier Island 70 years later, soon after which, it was also found on the Little Barrier Island.  

This species used to be very hard to find and had a sharply declining population because of many introduced predators. However, there has been some predator control by the authorities and the population of the chevron skinks is now presumed to be increasing, though degradation of habitat is still considered a huge threat. This species is, therefore, classified as Nationally Vulnerable by the Department of Conservation of New Zealand.

If you want to learn more about other interesting reptiles, check out our monitor lizard facts and frilled lizard facts pages.

Chevron Skink Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a chevron skink?

The chevron skink is a type of lizard.

What class of animal does a chevron skink belong to?

The chevron skink (Oligosoma homalonotum) belongs to the class Reptilia.

How many chevron skinks are there in the world?

The exact number of these skinks within their range is not known due to their highly secretive nature. But overall, their population is stated as stable.

Where does a chevron skink live?

Chevron skinks are endemic to New Zealand and are only found in the Great Barrier Island and the Little Barrier Island. They have been recorded near the summit of Mount Hirakimata in the Great Barrier and thus, are known to survive up to the elevation of 1,968-2,132 ft (600-650 m) above sea level.

What is a chevron skink's habitat?

These skinks, especially juveniles, are highly susceptible to dehydration by evaporation. Thus, they are forced to stay near forest streams and rivers, and other damp places. They are known to conceal themselves in crevices of rocks or trees and debris dams, and can also be found on the banks of rives and camouflaged against fallen leaves and fern fronds. They will most likely climb on trees or other high areas if there is a flood. Some adults have also been found quite far away from streams during cold weather.

Who do chevron skinks live with?

The social structure of chevron skink lizards is not known but they are most likely solitary or independent lizards.

How long does a chevron skink live?

The chevron skink (Oligosoma homalonotum) is known to have a long life of 21 years while in captivity, but is thought to have an even longer estimated lifespan of more than 40 years in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

Most of the New Zealand lizards are known to give birth to live young instead of laying eggs like most reptiles or amphibians of the world. These chevron skinks become sexually mature after three to five years of age, after which females can give birth to 8-10 live young at a time, usually in late summer. It is not clear how often they give birth, but are most likely to reproduce only once in a year or two.

What is their conservation status?

The population of these lizards was at great risk when predators like cats and rats were introduced to the islands of New Zealand in which the skinks are found. However, many conservation actions have been taken to protect the populations of the lizards in their habitat, which have resulted in the skinks being slightly more commonly found in the islands. Still, there are many other threats to their population and so, they have been classified as Nationally Vulnerable by the Department of Conservation in New Zealand, which means that these species are only stable because of intervention by the authorities and are likely to start declining if predators are not controlled in the islands.

Chevron Skink Fun Facts

What do chevron skinks look like?

The chevron skink (Oligosoma homalonotum) is named for the chevron or V-shaped markings present along its back and tail, with the arrows pointing towards its head. These patterns are also responsible for its name in Māori, niho taniwha, which translates to 'teeth of the taniwha'. It is mostly reddish-brown in color with pale splotches on its sides. Its belly and throat are covered with spots. The most distinctive feature is the two dark bands under its eye which form a teardrop-shaped spot between them. These markings are unique to each individual just like the fingerprints of a human being and can be used to identify individual skinks.

The chevron skink has V-shaped markings present on its back and tail.

*Please note that this is an image of the blue tongue skink and not a chevron skink. If you have an image of a chevron skink, please let us know at hello@kidadl.com.

How cute are they?

These friendly skinks can be considered really cute, and are sure to charm reptile lovers.

How do they communicate?

It is not known how a chevron skink (Oligosoma homalonotum) communicates with its own kind. However, like the blue tongue skink, it is capable of grunting or squeaking when bothered.

How big is a chevron skink?

This skink species is considered to be the longest out of all New Zealand lizards at a length of 12-14 in (30-35 cm). They are around nine times smaller than the longest lizard in the world, the Komodo dragon.

How fast can a chevron skink move?

The speed of the chevron skink is currently unknown.

How much does a chevron skink weigh?

The chevron skink (Oligosoma homalonotum) is said to weigh 0.7-2.4 oz (20-70 g), which makes them four to five times heavier than a golden-tailed gecko.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for a male and female chevron skink, but a female about to give birth is called a gravid female skink.

What would you call a baby chevron skink?

A newborn chevron skink can be called a neonate, and a juvenile when it is growing but not an adult yet.

What do they eat?

The diet of the chevron skink is said to include small invertebrates such as spiders, snails, and insect larvae.

Are they poisonous?

This species of skinks are not considered to be dangerous to human beings in any way.

Would they make a good pet?

It is not clear whether this skink species can make a good pet, but keeping it in a protected area, where there are no threats of a predator, might be helpful if its population starts declining.

Did you know...

Though they are known to climb trees in the flooding season, chevron skinks have the ability to take cover underwater by holding their breath if they have to hide from a predator. It can also break off its own tail to distract its predators. However, the tail, when it grows back, does not usually have chevron markings.

Do chevron skinks bite?

Most species of skinks, including chevron skinks, will not bite unless they are being mishandled.

Are chevron skinks endangered?

Yes, the population of chevron skinks in their habitat is in danger from predators, as well as habitat loss due to climate change and human development.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these sand lizard facts and Gila monster facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable chevron skink coloring pages.

Chevron Skink Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Spiders, snails, insect larvae

What Type of Animal were they?

Omnivore

Average Litter Size?

8-10

How Much Did They Weigh?

0.7-2.4 oz (20-70 g)

What habitat Do they Live In?

forest streams and rivers

Where Do They Live?

new zealand

How Long Were They?

12-14 in (30-35 cm)

How Tall Were They?

N/A

Class

Reptilia

Genus

Oligosoma

Family

Scincidae

Scientific Name

Oligosoma homalonotum

What Do They Look Like?

Reddish-brown and gray

Skin Type

Scales

What Are Their Main Threats?

predators

What is their Conservation Status?

Endangered
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Written by Aashita Dhingra

Bachelors in Business Administration

Aashita Dhingra picture

Aashita DhingraBachelors in Business Administration

Based in Lucknow, India, Aashita is a skilled content creator with experience crafting study guides for high school-aged kids. Her education includes a degree in Business Administration from St. Mary's Convent Inter College, which she leverages to bring a unique perspective to her work. Aashita's passion for writing and education is evident in her ability to craft engaging content.

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