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Species profile—Egernia rugosa (yakka skink)


Animalia (animals) → Reptilia (reptiles) → Scincidae (skinks) → Egernia rugosa (yakka skink)

Species details

Animalia (animals)
Reptilia (reptiles)
Scincidae (skinks)
Scientific name
Egernia rugosa De Vis, 1888
Common name
yakka skink
WildNet taxon ID
Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NCA) status
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC) status
Conservation significant
Pest status
The yakka skink is a large, robust lizard up to 40cm in length with a thick tail and short limbs. Body colour ranges from pale to dark brown with a broad, dark brown to black stripe extending from the neck to the tip of the tail. This dark stripe is usually bordered on either side by a narrow, pale fawn stripe. Its throat is cream with darker flecks, while the belly is yellow-orange with orange under the tail. Mid-body scales are in 26 to 30 rows, with low keels on the scales of the back and tail. Some of the scales at the rear of the head are fragmented. There are 2-3 large, plate-like scales along the leading edge of the ear. The nostril scales are not in contact, and a conspicuous groove runs from the rear of the nostril to the lip scale. The number of scales under the fouth toe varies from 16 to 24. (Wilson & Knowles 1988; Ehmann 1992; Cogger 2000).
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Habitat requirements are poorly known, however the species is known from rocky outcrops, sand plain areas and dense ground vegetation, in association with open dry sclerophyll forest (ironbark) or woodland, brigalow forest and open shrub land. The yakka skink has also been recorded in lancewood forest on coarse gritty soils in the vicinity of low ranges, foothills and undulating terrain with good drainage. (Swanson 1976; Cogger et al. 1983; Ehmann 1992; Cogger 2000; QPWS 2001).
Burrows and nests
Constructs a deep burrow system under the shelter of rocks & logs (Swanson 1976; Wilson & Knowles 1988).
E. rugosa is a secretive, terrestrial skink which may be active during the day, dusk and sometimes at night. It is a communal species, with small colonies digging burrow systems under low vegetation, logs or rocks. They may also use timber hollows, rock crevices and old rabbit warrens. Members of a colony repeatedly defecate at the same site, creating scat piles near their shelter. (Swanson 1976; Wilson & Knowles 1988; Greer 1989; Cogger 2000).
Yakka skinks are live bearing, rarely producing more than six young per litter. The breeding season for this species has not yet been recorded.
The yakka skink is an omnivorous species (consumes both plant and animal matter) that feeds mostly on arthropods, small vertebrates, soft plant material and fruits (Wilson & Knowles 1988; Ehmann 1992).
Threatening processes
Known Threats: 1. Clearing and modification of habitat (QPWS 2001).
2. Destruction of rocky refuge sites & ripping rabbit warrens (QPWS 2001).
Suspected : 1. Degradation of microhabitat (low vegetation and fallen timber), food supplies and burrow systems due to grazing, trampling (livestock & feral pigs) and inappropriate fire regime (QPWS 2001).
2. Predation by foxes and feral cats (QPWS 2001).
Status notes
Vulnerable (Qld Nature Conservation Act) Rare or insufficiently known (Cogger et al, 1993). The majority of this species distribution extends over the brigalow belt, where land clearing & habitat destruction are causing concern for this species.
Management documents
Management recommendations
Surveys to determine additional populations. There is a need for the study of populations, reproduction, diet, habitat preference and home range.
Current programs projects
Contributors: Keith R. McDonald 23/04/1997; David McFarland 26/10/2007; Danielle Hansen 17/07/2008; Wayne Martin 19/08/2008.
Cogger, H.G. (2000). Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. Reed Books : Port Melbourne.
Cogger, H.G., Cameron, E.E. & Cogger, H.M. (1983). Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Vol. 1 Amphibia and Reptilia. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
Cogger, H.G., Cameron, E.E., Sadlier, R.A. & Eggler, P. (1993). The Action Plan for Australian Reptiles. Australian Nature Conservation Agency : Canberra.
Covacevich, J.A. & Couper, P.J. (1991). The Reptile Records. In : An Atlas of Queensland's Frogs, Reptiles, Birds & Mammals. (Eds Ingram, G.J. & Raven, R.J.), pp. 45-140. Queensland Museum : Brisbane.
Ehmann, H. (1992). Encyclopedia of Australian Animals : Reptiles. Angus & Robertson : Sydney.
Greer, A.E. (1989). The Biology & Evolution of Australian Lizards. Surrey Beatty : Chipping Norton, NSW.
McFarland, D.C. (2007). Taxon Profiles Version 2.0: Threatened And Priority Fauna Taxa In Queensland: Biology And Distribution. Queensland Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane.
Mitchell, F.J. (1950). The scincid genera Egernia and Tiliqua (Lacertilia). Records of the South Australian Museum 9, 275-308.
QPWS (2001). Egernia rugosa Yakka Skink. Species Management Profile, Species Management Manual Vol. 2. Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service, Forest Management : Brisbane.
Swanson, S. (1976). Lizards of Australia. Angus & Robertson : Sydney.
Wilson, S.K. & Knowles, D.G. (1988). Australia's Reptiles A Photographic Reference to the Terrestrial Reptiles of Australia. Collins : Sydney.
Profile author
Keith R. McDonald (19/08/2008)
Current programs & projects

Other resources

Data source

This profile data is sourced from the QLD Wildlife Data API using the Get species by ID function used under CC-By 4.0.

This information is sourced from the WildNet database managed by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science.

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Last updated
8 March 2022