Cunningham's Skink Fact File

Egernia cunninghami

Credit: Copyright. The Animal Facts.








Wild 20-30 years

Captive 20-30 years



Leaves, Fruit, Insects

Conservation Status


Least Concern

Cunningham's skink is also known as the rock skink and for good reason. These Australian residents are most often spotted hiding among crevices in rock.

These omnivorous animals are active by day when they will emerge to feed on leaves, fruit, insects and more.

When threatened these reptiles have a wide variety of defense mechanisms. One of the most unusual is that when a predator approaches they will head towards rock crevices where they can puff up their body and the rough scales cause them to become wedged in the rocks.

While few man-made threats are threatening this species they may be affected by habitat loss.

Read on to learn more about these remarkable reptiles.


What does the Cunningham's skink look like?

Cunningham's skinks have large variation in color and pattern across their range. These variations may mark different species and some are currently listed as subspecies.

In most individuals these reptiles are colored black with brown or whitish blotches patterning this. On the lips are small white spots. One subspecies is primarily reddish brown with the black for the bars.

Their body is robust and covered with scales which are strongly keeled.

At the end of the body is a tail which is short and slender. The base is thickened.

An average Cunningham's skink will measure up to 30cm (12in) long with an average weight of between 200 and 250g (7-8.8oz).


What does the Cunningham's skink eat?

Cunningham's skinks are omnivores. They will feed on vegetation such as fruits and leaves. Invertebrates are also consumed.

Cunningham's Skink (Egernia cunninghami)

Credit: Copyright. The Animal Facts.


Where can you find the Cunningham's skink?

Australia is the native home of the Cunningham's skink. Here they can be found primarily along the East coast in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. The population in South Australia is isolated from the main population.


What kind of environment does the Cunningham's skink live in?

These animals make their home in rocky or forested habitats.

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How does the Cunningham's skink produce its young?

Pairs of Cunningham's skink are considered monogamous and males will rarely mate with more than one female.

Young are born during late summer after a 3-4 month gestation period.

They will give birth to live young. Each litter will include between 1 and 11 juveniles. These young remain with their parents for a period of time after hatching.

Studies have shown that these lizards can identify their siblings so that when they are picking a mate their is no in-breeding.


What does the Cunningham's skink do with its day?

These reptiles will seek out shelter in a rock crevice or a hollow in wood.

They are often recorded in groups with adults, subadults and juveniles.

Their legs are short and when they move their belly slides across the ground.

A Cunningham's skink is active during the day. They are often seen basking on rocks during the day but will bolt for shelter if threatened.

Cunningham's Skink (Egernia cunninghami)

Credit: Copyright. The Animal Facts.

Predators and Threats

What is impacting the survival of the Cunningham's skink?

When threatened by a predator this species will puff its body to appear more intimidating. In areas with rocky outcrops they will slide in amongst these and puff up with their spiny exterior anchoring them among the rocks to prevent a predator removing them.

If this fails they have the ability to drop their tail and run away. The predator is distracted by the tail and the lizard is unharmed by losing this.

The Cunningham's skink is listed as locally abundant across most of its range.

While no major threats are faced by this species they are being affected by urban development and the removal of suitable habitats.

These animals are present in the pet trade but most of these individuals come from captive breeding.

Quick facts

This species was named for Alan Cunningham, the explorer and botanist who first collected this species for scientists in the Blue Mountains of Australia.

They may also be known as the Cunningham's rock skink.

Cunningham's Skink (Egernia cunninghami)

Credit: Copyright. The Animal Facts.


Swanson, S. and Parish, S., 2011. Field Guide To Australian Reptiles. 2nd ed. New South Wales: Pascal Press.

Shea, G., Cogger, H. & Greenlees, M. 2018. Egernia cunninghamiThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T109470194A109470197. Downloaded on 09 November 2021.

Moonlit Sanctuary. 2021. Cunningham's Skink. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 9 November 2021].

Oakvale Wildlife. 2021. Cunningham’s Skink | Our Animals | Oakvale Wildlife. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 9 November 2021].

Australia Zoo. 2021. Cunningham's Skink. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 9 November 2021].

Australian Reptile Park. 2021. Cunningham’s Skink - Australian Reptile Park. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 9 November 2021].

The Australian Museum. 2021. Cunningham's Skink. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 9 November 2021].

Grasslands Biodiversity of South-Eastern Australia. 2021. Cunningham's Skink. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 9 November 2021].

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