Corucia zebrata Solomon Islands Skinks

Morpholigical charakteristics

The prehensile tailed skink is the largest representative by size within the family of Scincidae.
Corucia zebrata is viviparous and endemic to the Salomon islands (Indonesia) an archipelago consisting of at least a thousand islands.

Bild Salomon Islands

The species can reach a total length more of 75 cm, with more than half of it assigned to its eponymous body part: the tail. Only using its prehensile tail Corucia is able to secure its cylindric body while climbing and – if necessary-   using this body part to lift up its corpus as a whole. The anatomy of Corucia zebrata mirrors their habitat in that they were made to live on trees and in other such areas abundantly covered with vegetation. The extremities look bulky with sturdy claws, however, they are ideal tools for climbing on trees and moving on bark. The triangle-shaped head is armed with strong mandibles. The teeth are chisel-formed, pointed and suitable for crushing herbal nutrition.

Bild Schwanz
Bild Kiefer, Zähne
Bild Haut, Häutung

The above mentioned anatomic attributes are fundamentally common to all „forms” of prehensile tailed skinks, however, some   differences in physiognomy (e.g. body size, appearance) within the different types of Corucia are clearly identifiable.
Apart from of their familial social behavior it must be noted that remarkable variability exists between species from different islands, especially related to skin- and eye-color.

Based on their different appearance committed „Corucia“-keepers regularly distinguish between these „island forms“.  Each “island form” differs from another” island form” with respect to skin- and eye color. For some time „insiders“ within the group of keepers and breeders of these reptiles differentiate  between animals named  „Guadalcanal“, „Malaita“, „Isabel“ or  „ Bougainville“, referring to names of respective Salomon islands, which represents the (potential) origin of the skinks.
Taking this into consideration the following attributes of appearance are linked to the respective „island forms“(Schmidt, 1998). Moreover, the „Bougainville“- form has been described by Köhler as a sub-species named Corucia zebrata alfredschmidti (Köhler, 1997).

Corucia zebrata Subspecies

Guadalcanal“; eyes: olive colored; head dark-yellow to rust-brown; corpus with variable color from light green to green brown; frequently no banding with isolated black dots

Malaita“; eyes: dark yellow to olive; head olive to green-grey sometimes dark yellow; throat yellow; corpus green to olive, banding with different intensity 

Isabel“; eyes: dark-brown: head: soft green, throat: partly yellow, corpus: soft green to olive with bright banding.

„Bougainville“(Corucia zebrata alfredschmidti); eyes bright yellow, head apple-green, nose and chin frequently yellow;  corpus olive to green with distinct banding.

What is  not noticed in the first instance was the fact that besides the different appearance of each single  „island form“,  their social behavior and their specific food patterns differ between each group as well, which can be observed especially within each single “island form” held in captivity.

Most recent scientific studies have indeed proven that the described variability between “island forms” of Corucia zebrata correlates with their specific distribution on specific islands of the Salomon archipelago (Hagen et al., 2012).