Backyard Buddies
Garden Skink

Photo: David Cook

Garden Skink

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They may be shy and quick to hide when you approach, but garden skinks are some of the most common and well known buddies in Australian backyards.

Male skinks are highly territorial and aggressively attack other males during spring. You might even find several skinks locked together in a big jumble, all holding on to each other. Odd to see, but this is thought to be a kind of territorial behaviour.

Skinks are great backyard buddies as their sleek bodies and quick reflexes make them excellent hunters of insects. Having skinks around will help control crickets, moths and cockroaches.You can encourage skinks around your place by providing rocks, wood such as logs and sticks, and by leaving leaf litter around for them to hide amongst.

All kinds of skinks love to sunbathe on rocks, pavers and logs in the garden.

Skinks are usually brown or grey and can have different markings or stripes depending on the species. They grow to around 8 to 10 cm in length.

Skinks have a clever defence mechanism. If a bird or other predator is about to attack, a skink can drop its tail, which continues to wriggle wildly. The predator usually goes after the tail, leaving the skink free to escape to safety. This is really a last resort for the skink, as it costs it a lot of energy to regrow its tail, and it may take many months.

Did you know?

Skinks can have more than one tail. This happens when a tail is damaged but not lost, and a new tail starts to sprout from the wound - resulting in a fork-tailed skink. Skinks can have as many as five tails as a result of multiple injuries.


Avoid using insecticide or pesticide around your place, as you will be reducing the prey for little buddies like skinks. You could also have an adverse affect on other creatures you don't intend to target with your sprays.

Related Factsheets:

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Eastern Water Dragon

Eastern water dragons are grey-brown in colour with black banding, and some have a red belly and chest. Usually a broad black band extends through the eye. A crest of spines runs from the head to the tail. Water dragons are different from all other lizards – they have four well-developed li..



Most suburban backyards are home to a variety of skinks, but they look similar at a glance. Due to their timid nature and quick reflexes you may only ever see them dashing for cover as you approach. Skinks don’t have to eat every day, but will do so when conditions are favourable. They c..



”’s all connected, your backyard to the big backyard and everything in between – we can all do our bit to help out nature.“

John - National Parks Volunteer, SA

Photo: OEH