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Species profile—Anomalopus mackayi (long-legged worm-skink)


Animalia (animals) → Reptilia (reptiles) → Scincidae (skinks) → Anomalopus mackayi (long-legged worm-skink)

Photo of Anomalopus mackayi (long-legged worm-skink) - Dollery, C.,QPWS,2001
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Species details

Animalia (animals)
Reptilia (reptiles)
Scincidae (skinks)
Scientific name
Anomalopus mackayi Greer & Cogger, 1985
Common name
long-legged worm-skink
WildNet taxon ID
Alternate name(s)
five-clawed worm-skink
long-legged worm skink
Mackay's worm skink
Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NCA) status
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC) status
Conservation significant
Pest status
A medium-sized Anomalopus with reduced limbs bearing three fingers and two toes. Its back is greyish brown and the belly is paler yellow-green. In the south of its range individuals are unpatterned, while more northern populations bear rows of dark spots along the body, one per scale, over the back and side surfaces. The belly is occasionally marked with rows of dark spots in the north of its range. This species has a total length of 27cm (snout vent length 11cm). It may be easily confused with other skinks with reduced limbs which occur in its range. (Wilson & Knowles 1988; Cogger 2000).
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The long-legged worm-skink is found on the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range in south-eastern Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales. Its range has contracted eastward. In the past 20 years it has only been recorded from the Oakey and Dalby region of Queensland and the Wallangra, Mungindi and Wee Waa regions of New South Wales. The Wallangra specimens link what were previously thought to be disjunct Queensland and New South Wales populations. Localities for museum specimens collected prior to 1970 include a number on the plains south and west of Moree, and as far west as Goodooga, New South Wales. (Greer & Cogger 1985; Covacevich & Couper 1991; Cogger et al. 1993).
Distributional limits
-27, 147
-30, 152
Range derivation
Range estimated from a distribution map
This species is found on low open grassland with scattered trees to open grassy dry Eucalyptus and Callitris forest/woodland. This skink is often found beneath logs. They occur on red-black to deep cracking black clay loam or sandy soils (including areas that are inundation prone and adjacent rises). (Shea et al. 1987; Cogger et al. 1993; Cogger 1996).
This skink burrows and shelters in and under well embedded logs, rocks, loose soil and leaf litter. (Wilson & Knowles 1988; Ehmann 1992; Cogger 2000).
Long-legged worm-skinks are egg-layers. In spring they lay 1-3 eggs per clutch. (Shea et al. 1987; Wilson & Knowles 1988; Ehmann 1992).
This species is assumed to have a diet of arthropods (insects and larvae, etc.), similar to other Anomalopus species. Individuals maintained in captivity remained beneath the soil surface during the day and took prey (mealworms) from the soil surface. (Cogger et al. 1983; Shea et al. 1987).
Threatening processes
Known : None confirmed.
Suspected : 1. Destruction and fragmentation of habitat due to clearing for agriculture, grazing and irrigation (Cogger et al. 1993).
2. Soil compaction and erosion due to over-grazing by stock (Cogger et al. 1993).
3. Loss of ground litter due to inappropriate fire regime and the collection of fallen timber/logs (Cogger et al. 1993).
4. Soil and water pollution from agricultural chemicals (Cogger et al. 1993).
5. Predation by feral animals (pigs, foxes, cats) (NPWS 1999; QPWS 2001).
Status notes
The long-legged worm-skink is listed as endangered under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992, endangered under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, and vulnerable under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Management documents
Included in: Cogger, H.G., Cameron, E.E., Sadlier, R.A. and Eggler, P. (1993). The Action Plan for Australian Reptiles. Australian Nature Conservation Agency. Endangered Species Program. Project Number 124.
Management recommendations
Ground surveys to determine full geographic range, habitat preferences and occurrence in existing reserves. Research required into the basic biology and ecology, and to identify the major factors contributing to the decline of the species. Defer granting of licenses to clear remnant woodland within the species' known range.
Contributors: Barney Hines 11/06/1998; David McFarland 26/10/2007; Mellisa Mayhew 17/07/2008; Wayne Martin 19/08/2008.
Cogger, H.G. (2000). Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia (sixth edition). Reed New Holland, Sydney.
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.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (2006). Long-legged Work-skink. Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane, accessed 17/07/2008, [].
Fitzgerald, M. (2007). Long-legged worm-skink Anomalopus mackayi. Conservation Management Profile. Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane.
Greer, A.E. & Cogger, H.G. (1985). Systematics of the reduce-limbed and limbless skinks currently assigned to the genus Anomalopus (Lacertilia : Scincidae). Records of the Australian Museum 37, 11-54.
McFarland, D.C. (2007). Taxon Profiles Version 2.0: Threatened And Priority Fauna Taxa In Queensland: Biology And Distribution. Queensland Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane.
NPWS (1999). Five-clawed worm-skink species profile. NSW NPWS, Hurstville.
QPWS (2001). Anomalopus mackayi Five-clawed Worm Skink. Species Management Profile, Species Management Manual Vol. 2. Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service, Forest Management : Brisbane.
Sadlier, R.A. & Pressey, R.L. (1994). Reptiles and amphibians of particular conservation concern in the western division of New South Wales: a preliminary review. Biological Conservation. 69, 41-54.
Shea, G., Millgate, M. & Peck, S. (1987). A range extension for the rare skink Anomalopus mackayi. Herpetofauna 17(2), 16-19.
Wilson, S.K. & Knowles, D.G. (1988). Australia's Reptiles A Photographic Reference to the Terrestrial Reptiles of Australia. Collins : Sydney.
Profile author
David McFarland (19/08/2008)

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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