Cunningham’s skink is a large, prickly lizard usually around 25-30cm in length. The colour varies from those which are almost totally black with a few white spots, to others that are predominantly grey with black bands or others which have an overall rusty red colour. Each scale ends in a sharp, rigid point, especially on the tail. If threatened, the lizard will flee to the nearest rock crevice and puff up its body and use the spines to anchor itself into the refuge. Trying to remove a stubborn Cunningham’s skink from this position is practically impossible. The species is named in honour of Alan Cunningham; explorer and botanist, who collected the first specimen in the Blue Mountains.


The Cunningham’s skink can be found in south-eastern Australia, from southern Queensland to western Victoria, with an outlying population at Mt. Lofty in South Australia. They are usually found around large rock outcrops, sheltering in crevices or under large slabs of rock.


The adult Cunningham’s skink is mainly vegetarian, consuming flowers, berries and young green shoots and leaves. Juveniles, on the other hand, are mostly insect eaters.


Female Cunningham’s skinks produce between 1 and 11 live young in late summer. These will usually hang around the parents for several years forming quite close family groups. This species is highly monogamous with most males fathering only one litter. Despite remaining within the same range and not often dispersing, genetic studies have shown that Cunningham Skinks can identify close relatives and always choose unrelated partners.