Moko skink photos

Moko skinks are probably the most abundant, and certainly the most obvious species of lizard on Burgess Island (in the Mokohinau Island group). Their common name is from the Maori name for lizard, not these islands as some assume, and although they are in places extremely plentiful on some of the Mokohinau Islands, they are not restricted to the group. They are even still present at a few manland sites, although they generally aren’t doing well there due to mammalian pests.

When I was on Burgess Is in December many moko skinks appeared to be heavily pregnant, and were quick to emerge from cover to bask in the sun. They were just as quick to dissapear when disturbed. The photo below is a tighter crop of one of the photos I’ve added to my gallery. To get it I put some fruit off the pohuehue vine (Muehlenbeckia complexa) in the background, with a little sugar water onto the rock and waited. Lizards are important seed dispersers for many of New Zealands plants, including pohuehue, and it didn’t take these skinks long at all to find them, and the ants were pretty quick too! These liards were so plentiful, animated, and elegant with their long tails and smart stripes that I spent a lot of time just watching them.

Moko skink
A Moko skink eating a pohuehue fruit. Taken with a Canon 1D Mark IV, EF180mm f/3.5L Macro USM + 1.4x extender, 1/125 s at f11, ISO 400.