NZ Wildlife Management

Trace: grand_and_otago_skinks



Grand skink and Otago Skink Husbandry Manual

January 2007 - Compiled by Rose Collen

Otago skink. Photo: Dave Houston/DOC


This husbandry manual has been prepared for all holders of grand and Otago skinks in New Zealand. It is intended as a reference standard for captive grand and Otago skink husbandry and represents the minimum husbandry standards required for inclusion of individuals and captive facilities in the captive management programme. This husbandry manual should be used in conjunction with the Grand and Otago skink Recovery Plan 2006 – 2016 (Norbury et al 2006) and the Grand and Otago skink Captive Management Plan (Collen and Reardon 2007). This document may also provide holders of other lizard species in New Zealand with useful information, but it is in no way intended as a best practice for other species.

As improvements and refinements to the husbandry of both skink species are expected, husbandry techniques will continue to develop as the success and/or failure of various protocols adopted by the captive facilities is reported. Changes to the document will be added annually; these amendments will not be sent out in hard copy but will be posted on an updated web version. You will be able to tell whether the document has been amended since your copy was printed, by checking the date on the footer of your printed copy against the date of the amendments listed in the table on the updated web version.

If you require a hard copy of the most recent version of this document either search on or contact: Les Judd, grand and Otago skink captive management ranger, VPN 5625, DDI 03 477 6925

^ Amendment Date ^ Details Page # ^ Contributor ^

28/01/09 Death of wild-caught animals 37 Les Judd
Row 2 Col 1 Row 2 Col 2 Row 2 Col 3
Row 3 Col 1 Row 3 Col 2 Row 3 Col 3
Row 4 Col 1 Row 4 Col 2 Row 4 Col 3
Row 5 Col 1 Row 5 Col 2 Row 5 Col 3
03/08/10 transfer of animals Les Judd
13/09/11 minor additions to 3.6 Reproduction, 4.1.1 Enclosure design, 4.1.2 Environmental requirements Les Judd

1.1 Taxonomy

Class Order Family Common name Scientific Name
Reptilia Sauria Scincidae Grand skink Oligosoma grande
Reptilia Sauria Scincidae Otago skink Oligosoma otagense


DOC status: Nationally Critical, with the qualifiers Conservation Dependent and Human Induced (Hitchmough 2004). Both species meet the criteria for the highest possible threat ranking due to criteria number 3: There is a predicted decline of > 80% in the total population in the next 10 years due to existing threats.

IUCN status: Critically Endangered (IUCN 2000 Red List of Threatened Species).

The distribution of Grand and Otago skinks is now restricted to 8% of their former range, with the population trend still in serious decline. The main causes for the decline have not been clearly identified, but are likely to be habitat destruction/degradation and introduced mammalian predators (refer to Grand and Otago skink recovery programme summary and annual report 2006).

1.3 Captive Management

1.3.1 Objectives

The long-term recovery goal of the Grand and Otago skink Recovery Plan 2006 - 2016 is: To maintain and restore viable populations of grand and Otago skinks across their natural range, and to maintain their genetic diversity.

To achieve this long-term goal, four goals are stated for the Recovery Plan period, the second highest priority goal being to “Secure both species in captivity”. The captive management programme supports the recovery plan goals by aiming to secure a genetically representative population of grand and Otago skinks in captivity to safeguard against the risk of extinction of the species, and to directly support in-situ recovery initiatives by providing animals for future release into the wild. The other important roles of the captive populations are as part of research and translocation programmes, and education and advocacy (refer to the Grand and Otago skink Captive Management Plan for more detail).

1.3.2 Co-ordination

The captive management of grand and Otago skinks is coordinated by an appointed Captive Management Coordinator and a Captive Management Ranger. They report to the grand and Otago skink Recovery Group.

The Captive Management Coordinator (CMC) is currently: Mike Kean

The Captive Management Ranger is currently: Karin Ludwig Grand and Otago Skink Recovery Programme PO Box 5244 Dunedin 9058 Ph 03 477 0677

The Grand and Otago Skink Recovery Group consists of people with knowledge of the ecology and management needs of the species. The Recovery Group’s role is to recommend recovery goals and tasks annually, review recovery projects including the captive programme, and to provide high quality technical advice to conservation managers. This group is available for consultation should issues or emergencies arise, and comprises representatives from the Otago Conservancy of the Department of Conservation (DOC), University of Otago, Landcare Research, and a number of experienced private captive holders (see appendix 3 for contact details).

Coastal Otago Area Office (DOC, Otago Conservancy) is responsible for implementing recovery plan objectives and delivery programmes, including captive management. Permits are required for captive holding, transfer to and from the wild, and marking of grand and Otago skinks, and are issued by DOC.

1. Introduction
2. Identification
3. Natural History
4. Captive Husbandry
4.1 Housing and environment
4.2 Health Care
4.3 Diseases and treatment
4.4 Post Mortem
4.5 Capture, Handling and Transfer
4.6 Feeding
4.7 Breeding
4.8 Advocacy
5. Record Keeping
6. Acknowledgements
7. References
8. Glossary
9. Appendicies