Otago skink

The Otago skink (Oligosoma otagense) is an endangered species of large skinks native to the central Otago region of New Zealand. A member of the genus Oligosoma, it was described by Geoff Patterson in 1997.

Physical characteristics

Otago skinks are relatively large compared to other New Zealand skinks, capable of growing to lengths up to 12 inches (31 cm). They are marked with distinctive black, yellow, and green spots. These spots provide excellent camouflage in their rocky habitat of lichen-covered rocks and schist outcrops. Like most skinks, Otago skinks are omnivores and feed on a wide variety of insects and fleshy fruits.


Otago Skinks are only found in very specific locations in Otago, and are typically limited to the large schist rock outcroppings found in that region. They can often be seen sunning themselves on these rocks. As of 2000, the range of the Otago skink has decreased by roughly 90%. Although it was once widespread, land use change, particularly the intensification of farming, and the introduction of mammalian predators has led to a decline in the population. The New Zealand Department of Conservation estimates that there are only 2000-5000 individual Otago skinks remaining.