Although it has a fishy name, the land mullet is actually the largest member of the skink family of lizards. Large adults can reach 50cm or more in total length. The name comes from the smooth, shiny, black fish-like scales that cover the body. Juvenile land mullets tend to be dark brown and often have white or cream spots. Despite their size, land mullets are shy, nervous creatures that are not often seen. Often the only indication of their presence is the rapid rustling of leaf litter and the sight of a disappearing black tail as they run for the nearest cover.
An inhabitant of the rainforest margins of coastal eastern Australia from Gosford, New South Wales north to south-eastern Queensland. They will occasionally enter private gardens around their forest homes, particularly if they are well vegetated.
Juvenile land mullets eat mostly insects and other invertebrates. As they mature, more and more vegetable matter is consumed until, as adults, around 80% of the diet consists of fallen berries and fruits, new leaves and flowers.
Like their close relatives the Cunningham’s skink, land mullets are live bearers with females giving birth to 4-8 baby lizards in late summer some three months after mating. These juveniles will often stay around the parents for some time forming an extended family group before heading off to find their own mates and territories.