"Temporary Ponds: a natural habitat to be protected!"


> Western Three-toed Skink

Chalcides striatus

Sometimes called a snake, the western three-toed skink is in fact a small and very slender lizard with a cylindrical body that resembles a snake, but which in fact has small limbs with only three toes (tridactil). Males can reach a body size of 30-34 cm in length and females can reach 40-43 cm in length. The colour of its dorsum is brownish olive or bronzed, and has between 9 and 11 dark stripes.


Behaviour and reproduction:

The Portuguese common name (‘pasture-crosser’) comes from its serpentine locomotion and from the way it moves across the tufts of grass where it lives. It is a clever animal that, when spotted, immediately runs seeking refuge inside the grass tufts where it hides. Its reproductive activity occurs between March and June, whereas the females, after 50 to 80 days of gestation, give birth to an average of 4 or 5 younglings.


Its habitat is rather specialized and includes grasslands, wet meadows and abandoned cultivation fields, where this lizard preferably and usually lives. These kinds of habitat occur around temporary ponds and other masses of water, as well as in swampy lands.


Since this specie has a high specialization in terms of occupied habitats, its distribution is naturally discontinuous, although it is a common specie in southwest Portugal. On a local basis it can be quite abundant.


The threat factors are caused by intensive agricultural and cattle raising activities, which destroy their habitat. On the other hand, the traditional extensive agriculture favours the diversity of grasslands and meadows that the Western three-toed skink prefers.


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