Sunday, March 2, 2008

Bermuda Rock Lizard images, hatchling to old veteran.

Several recent visitors have been searching for images of Bermuda Rock Lizards, aka Bermuda Skinks, Plestiodon longirostris, so I'm posting a few more.

Large sub-adult (one or two years old). Short tail indicates autotomization (see below for possible causes).

Adult. Relatively short tail indicates at least one autotomization.

Adult. Note change in tail colour slightly more than halfway along, indicating autotomization.

The Bermuda rock lizard, Plestiodon (formerly Eumeces) longirostris, is a skink (member of the Family Scincidae, common worldwide, usually having a smooth, shiny body]. Like most of the many hundreds of species of skink, it is furtive, hyper-active in hot weather, and sadly lacking in brainpower.

It is an attractive lizard, with a peculiarly mammal-like head. Its name, longirostris, means "long-nosed," but a better name would be "pointed-nosed" or "tapered-nosed," to describe the snout, which instead of being bluntly rounded as in other skinks, is sharp, its underside upturned slightly at the end like the muzzle of a Shetland sheepdog. It has large, round, dark eyes, set higher and more forward than in other species. Observing rock lizards scooting about on the beach, nosing out picnic morsels from the sand, it is not difficult to see them as tiny, slithering puppies.

Adults are black and shiny, with faces the color of boiled yams. They are about four and one-half inches long, not counting the tail, which in a lucky individual may add another four inches. Newly-hatched Bermuda rock lizards are brown, with four narrow, creamy stripes extending from nose to rump, golden backs, and startling lapis lazuli tails. They are woefully naive, with very little chance of surviving beyond their first few weeks due to the unfortunate predatory actions of animals that have been introduced to Bermuda by humans.

Recent hatchling Plestiodon longirostris, not quite "newborn."

This sub-adult has beaten the odds getting to this stage. It still retains much of the juvenile patterning, minus the blue tail. The progression of coloration in this species is similar to that of many Plestiodon species.
Adult Bermuda Skink. Stripes have disappeared, and the head has become orange, which also occurs in many other species.

How tough is it being a Bermuda Rock Lizard? This adult has lost a hind foot, and its tail has been mangled at least twice (note two new tail buds). Possible assailants include introduced Jamaican Anole (background info  here), Kiskadee Flycatcher (introduced, and an especially lethal predator of skink hatchlings) and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (introduced as an ecological replacement for the extinct native Bermuda Night-Heron in the late 1970s).

For more information about and pictures of the Bermuda Rock Lizard see here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have seen skinks with multiple tail-buds before too...