Family: Scincidae - Skinks
Order: Squamata (Sauria) - Lizards
Phylum: Chordata - Vertebrates
Red List status: Not listed
Endemic to Madagascar, where it is widespread throughout the island in both wet and dry environments.
A robustly-built, copper- or brown-bodied skink with four well-developed limbs. A darker, often blank, band runs the length of the flank, bordered above by a thin, indistinct pale stripe and below by a cream-white stripe, which is usually distinct but may be broken into a line of spots in some specimens. A row of white spots typically occurs along the length of the black band, though these may be indistinct. Irregular rows of white and black spots are sometimes present as indistinct lines down the length of the back. Distinctively, a red patch occurs at the base of the neck; this is generally darker, smaller and less distinct in females than males.
Similar species: The bright skink resembles a small Gravenhorst's skink (T. gravenhorstii), and can be distinguished from this and other species primarily by the typical absence of white spots along the flank and the lack of red colouration in other members of the genus. Additionally, T. madagascariensis exhibits a consistent, regular pattern of seven light stripes down the length of the body. Cryptoblepharus boutonii is more slender and differs in colouration and patterning; this species occurs only in isolated coastal regions of the far north and far south. Other Malagasy skinks are either limbless or have elongated bodies with proportionately shorter limbs.
One of Madagascar's most cosmopolitan lizards, found in a range of open grassy, rocky and agricultural landscapes, and in every climatic zone on the island. The species is absent from forested habitats; across much of Madagascar, it is apparently replaced by Gravenhorst's skink in dry forest and savannah.
Species of Trachylepis were previously included in the large tropical skink genus Mabuya, and subsequently within the genus Euprepis. Two subspecies are recognised, although molecular evidence suggests that there is limited genetic variation in this wide-ranging species.
Reptile Database, J. Craig Venter Institute
Glaw, F. and Vences, M. (2007) A Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Third Edition. Cologne, Vences & Glaw Verlag: 496pp