Backyard Buddies
Eastern Water Skink

Photo: John Tann

Eastern Water Skink

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In April, Eastern Water Skinks are busy preparing for the start of winter. They will bask in the warmth of the sun and feed as much as they can to keep warm during winter.

These skinks live from Cooktown in northern Queensland to south-east New South Wales, and inland to South Australia through the Murray-Darling basin.

The Eastern Water Skink can be tricky to spot, even though it is a large skink and can grow up to 30 cm long. Its coppery olive and golden brown body is flecked with black, making it a master of camouflage.

To be a buddy to the Eastern Water Skink, leave leaf litter, mulch, fallen branches and rocks around your garden. This will attract insects for them to eat and provide places for them to shelter and sun themselves on.

In winter, Eastern Water Skinks brumate. This means they spend most of their time resting to conserve their energy, but are not quite in hibernation. These skinks are so skilled at staying still that during winter they'll only leave their shelters a few times to search for food.

The Eastern Water Skink basks on rocks and logs near streams, ponds, rocky creek beds, rivers, wetlands and coastlines. These skinks are naturals in the water.

Eastern Water Skinks are mainly meat eaters, and eat aquatic insects like water beetles, as well as spiders, snails, smaller lizards, and cockroaches, so they're great buddies to have around your garden. They also eat freshwater shrimp, tadpoles, and even small fish.

If there any native fruits or berries lying around, these skinks will add some salad to the mix. Ask at your local nursery or call your local council to find out which local native plants produce fruits and berries, and plant some in your garden.

Eastern Water Skinks are prey for kookaburras, bigger lizards and snakes.

Did you know?

As reptiles, Eastern Water Skinks don't generate their own body heat, but instead they are solar-powered. They rely on morning sunshine to power them up after sleeping at night in a cool, dark place. After warming to 25 degrees, Eastern Water Skinks transform from slinky to speedy.


Avoid using pesticides in your garden. If Eastern Water Skinks eat a poisoned insect, they could become quite sick.

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