10 August 2022

Short-necked Skink - Jizan

The Short-necked Skink or Sudan Mabuya Trachylepis brevicollis is a species of Squamatain the family skinks. They are found in Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea (type) and Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Oman and rely on running to move around. They live in hot dry areas, in semi-deserts and savannah, from sea level to over 1500 m where they are active during the day. They occur on trunks, roots of shrubs, rocks, as well as old houses or walls. Females give birth to live young. They feed insects and other arthropods. It is a big and robust skink with a short head in proportion to the body. They have a large eye with a circular pupil. Tail on the base thickened, long about half of the total length. Dorsal scales tricarinate; midbody scale rows 30-34; maximum length over 30 cm, but in average less; juveniles are dark, with bright spots and yellow throat. Although geographic variation in this species has not been formally assessed, the large number of synonyms currently attributed to it (LOVERIDGE 1957) is reflective of the high degree of variation it expresses across its range. The species was first described as Euprepes brevicollis by WIEGMANN (1837), who gave the type locality simply as "Abyssinien" [= Eritrea]. SCHÄTTI & GASPERETTI (1994) argued that the precise locality is likely to have been Massawa [= Mitsiwa], Eritrea and, more recently, SCHÄTTI & GÜNTHER (2001) suggested that Hauakil [= Howakil Island (15°10'N, 40°16'E), Eritrea] might be the true type locality. WIEGMANN (1837) also described Euprepes pyrrhocephalus, long considered a synonym of T. brevicollis(BOULENGER 1887), with its type locality at Aschik [=Zahrat Ashiq (16°26'N, 42°38' E), Saudi Arabia]. This location is an offshore small island very close to where I photographed the Short-necked Skink below.