The 6 Native Reptiles of Christmas Island

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With Christmas right around the corner we thought that now would be the perfect time to discuss the 6 reptiles that are native to Christmas Island, 5 of which are endemic and can only found on said island. Christmas Island is an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean southwest of Indonesia. There are another 5 reptiles that can  be found on the island: the common house gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus), stump-toed gecko (Gehyra mutilata), black blind snake (Ramphotyphlops braminus), wolf snake (Lycodon aulicus capucinus) and grass skink (Lygosoma bowringii), but we won’t be discussing those today as they were introduced by humans and are not originally from the island. However, we will include photos of them below!

Top 10 List

1. Blue-Tailed Skink

Blue-Tailed Skink (Crytptoblepharus egeriae)
Blue-Tailed Skink
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Scientific NameCryptoblepharus egeriae
Geographic Range: Christmas Island, Australia
Conservation Status: Extinct In Wild – IUCN Red List

The Blue-Tailed skink is a diurnal, omnivorous brown skink with yellow-ish white stripes running down their back, that connect to a bright blue tail. While these skinks look a lot like the juveniles of the 5-Lined Skink, these skinks are not closely related at all aside from their appearance. While it is possible a hidden population exists somewhere on Christmas Island, as of right now they are classified as extinct in the wild. They have been kept alive as a species thanks to captive breeding efforts. 

2. Forest Skink AKA Christmas Island Whiptail Skink

Forest Skink also known as the Christmas Island whiptail skink (Emoia nativitatis)
Forest Skink
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Scientific NameEmoia nativitatis
Geographic Range: Christmas Island, Australia
Conservation Status: Extinct – IUCN Red List

The Forest Skink (also referred to as the Christmas Island Whiptail Skink) was a thick, diurnal, ground-dwelling skink with a rich brown body colour. They preferred to reside in forest clearings, hidden among the leaf litter. During the 1980’s and even the 1990’s the species was considered abundant, with researchers being able to find multiple skinks while out looking. However in the early 2000’s the population plummeted and as of 2017 the species was listed as extinct on the IUCN red list. The last captive individual named Gump died on May 31st, 2014.

The cause for the rapid decline of the forest skinks is still unknown, but there are a few main theories as to what may have contributed. These theories include: being preyed upon by yellow crazy ants, predation and competition with the five introduced reptile species, giant centipedes, cats, poisoning from various insecticides, and possible disease.

3. Christmas Island Giant Gecko 

Christmas Island Giant Gecko (Cyrtodactylus sadleiri)
Christmas Island Giant Gecko
Source

Scientific NameCyrtodactylus sadleiri
Geographic Range: Christmas Island, Australia
Conservation Status: Endangered – IUCN Red List

The Giant Gecko is the first reptile on this list that can still be found as a wild population on the island. Not much is known about this particular gecko, except that it it can only be found on Christmas Island, living in the forests of the island. It is also referred to as the Sadleir’s Bow-fingered Gecko.

4. Lister’s Gecko

Lister's Gecko (Lepidodactylus listeri)
Lister’s Gecko
Source

Scientific NameLepidodactylus listeri
Geographic Range: Christmas Island, Australia 
Conservation Status: Extinct In Wild – IUCN Red List

Lister’s Gecko is another reptile on this list that has become extinct in the wild. The cause for the decline is thought to be the same causes listed above in number 2. This species has been saved from complete extinction thanks to the efforts of captive breeding programs. The Lister’s Gecko is a brown gecko with a grey or fawn stripe that matches the colour and pattern of the tail. It also had a whitish belly, and grows to around 5 cm (not including the tail).

The Lister’s gecko gets both it’s common name and scientific name (Lepidodactylus listeri) from the naturalist Joseph Jackson Lister, however it is occasionally also referred to as the Christmas Island Chained Gecko.

5. Pink Blind Snake

Pink Blind Snake (Ramphotyphlops exocoeti)
Pink Blind Snake
Source

Scientific NameRamphotyphlops exocoeti
Geographic Range: Christmas Island, Australia
Conservation Status: Endangered – IUCN Red List

The Pink Blind Snake (or Christmas Blind Snake) is the only snake that is native to Christmas Island, while the other two snakes mentioned in the introduction have been introduced to the island. It is also endemic to the island, meaning that it is found nowhere else in the world. While this snake thankfully is not extinct or extinct in the wild like others on this list, it is still endangered and will need close monitoring to ensure it doesn’t also become extinct.

The specific name of the pink blind snake, exocoeti, means “flying fish”. It was named this in honor of the officers of HMS Flying Fish, who collected the first physical specimen that helped in naming and describing the snake. 

6. Foreshore Skink

Foreshore Skink (Emoia atrocostata)
Foreshore Skink
Source

Scientific NameEmoia atrocostata
Geographic Range: Indo-Malayan Realm, Australasia, and Oceania
Conservation Status: Data Deficient – IUCN Red List

The foreshore skink (or mangrove skink) is the first and only reptile on this list that is native to Christmas Island, but can also be found in other areas off of the island. It is a skink with scale colours that are grey or brown-grey, flecked with black. There is also a faint black band along each side, and the throat is often bluish, and the belly greenish or yellow to orange colour. 

They are most commonly found in mangroves, back-beach vegetation and rocky shorelines. They are a semi-aquatic skink, and are often found foraging in tidal pools

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