Land Mullet Fact File
Credit: John Tann from Sydney, Australia, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Wild 23 years
Captive 23 years
The land mullet is the largest member of the skink family found in Australia reaching a maximum length of up to 60cm (23.6in) long.
Their name is thought to derive either from the fish-like scales which are found across their body or the fish-like odor which they will emit when faced with a threat.
These animals are omnivores and seek out fruit, insects, fungi and more to feed on. Females give birth to live young once every two years.
Land mullets are increasingly threatened by the spread of the invasive cane toad. They will attempt to feed on these toads which poisons them.
Read on to learn more about these rad reptiles.
What does the land mullet look like?
The land mullet is the largest species of skink recorded in Australia. An average adult will have a body measuring up to 50cm (20in) long with a weight of 400-500g (14-16.7in) long.
Their name is taken from the fish-like scales which cover the body. These are shiny and colored blackish brown or black. On the underside they may be white, yellow or orange. A ring of white scales is present around the eyes.
Their dark coloration is an adaptation which assists with obtaining heat to warm their body.
At the end of the body is a medium length tail which comes to a point at its end.
What does the land mullet eat?
Land mullets are omnivores. Their diet is made up of fruit, fungi and invertebrates.
Credit: chujoslaw, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Where can you find the land mullet?
Australia is the native home of the land mullet. Here they can be found in the states of Queensland and New South Wales.
What kind of environment does the land mullet live in?
Land mullets will make their home in forest habitats such as vine thickets, subtropical rainforest and wet sclerophyll forest.
They will seek shelter in a burrow located behind a fallen log or amongst the root systems of trees.
-- AD --
How does the land mullet produce its young?
Land mullets are considered to be monogamous and remain with the same partner each breeding season.
These lizards give birth to live young with an average of four young per litter though some have been recorded with up to 9 individuals. Females give birth after a 3 month gestation period.
These young stay with their mother who does not give birth again for two years.
Juvenile land mullets have a series of white spots in among the scales on the back. These will fade as they age.
What does the land mullet do with its day?
During the day these lizards will sit in areas of sunshine to warm their bodies.
Land mullets live in a group made up of a pair and their juvenile young. When young reach maturity they are encouraged to leave the group.
Across much of their range they are described as a shy species which will flee to a burrow if a threat is detected.
Credit: gailhampshire from Cradley, Malvern, U.K, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Predators and Threats
What is impacting the survival of the land mullet?
When threatened by a predator the land mullet has the ability to sever its own tail providing a distraction to the predator while the lizard escapes unharmed.
Populations of the land mullet are believed to be suffering rapid declines primarily due to the presence of the invasive cane toad which now occurs across the entire range. They will attempt to eat the toad and will succumb to the poison.
In some areas, development and invasive plants can make habitat unsuitable.
While these animals are kept as pets the majority of individuals in the trade come from captive bred populations.
Their name is thought to be a reference to the fish-like scales which cover their body and also the pungent, fish-like odor which is emitted if they are threatened.
Credit: Nachoman-au, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons
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. Bellatorias major. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T47155294A47155305. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-1.RLTS.T47155294A47155305.en. Downloaded on 06 October 2021.
Jungledragon.com. 2021. Land Mullet (Egernia major) - JungleDragon. [online] Available at: <https://www.jungledragon.com/specie/8048/land_mullet.html> [Accessed 6 October 2021].
Carter, T., 2021. Land Mullet — Australian Wildlife | Brisbane | Workplace Reptile Safety Training. [online] Australian Wildlife | Brisbane | Workplace Reptile Safety Training. Available at: <http://coolcompanions.com.au/blog/land-mullet> [Accessed 6 October 2021].
South East Reptile Relocations - Gold Coast Snake Catcher. 2021. Land Mullet - South East Snake Catcher Gold Coast. [online] Available at: <https://southeastsnakecatcher.com.au/land-mullet/> [Accessed 6 October 2021].
Australia Zoo. 2021. Land Mullet Skink. [online] Available at: <https://www.australiazoo.com.au/wildlife/our-animals/land-mullet-skink/> [Accessed 6 October 2021].
Copyright The Animal Facts 2023