The Solomon Island skink is the world’s largest skink, growing to a length of 72 centimetres, although nearly half this length is the tail. The skinks are sometimes called prehensile tailed skinks, or monkey tailed skinks because they use their long, agile tails to help move around in the tree canopy – a bit like monkeys. The Solomon Island skink is one of the few lizards that can’t lose its tail when threatened, and so it will hiss or bite to defend itself. The skinks are olive-green to dark-green and speckled light brown to black. This speckling can look like a zebra’s stripes, hence its Latin name.
The species is native to the Solomon Islands archipelago, a group of islands in the south-west Pacific Ocean. The Solomon Island’s skink is an arboreal (tree dwelling) species and spends all its time in the canopy. It is often found in the strangler fig tree, a rainforest species.
The Solomon Island’s skink is herbivores, feeding on flowers, leaves, fruits and shoots. They are even able to eat toxic plants with no ill effects observed.
Unlike most reptiles, the female carries the developing young inside her, nourishing them with a placenta. After 6-8 months, one lizard is born, though twins and triplets have been observed. The newly hatched lizard is huge, nearly half the size of the mother. The very slow reproductive rate and the destruction of their habitat means that this skink could be easily become at risk of extinction in the wild.