Scientific name: Mabuya varia
Common names: Variable Skink
The Variable Skink is a medium sized skink with a rounded snout and a window in each lower eyelid. The subocular reaches the upper lip.
The ye openings are oval and have short lobes.
They have spiny scales on the soles of the feet, and three keels on the lamellae beneath the toes. The dorsal scales have three strong keels, and are in 30 to 36 rows at midbody.
Their coloration is variable; the back may be blackish, olive, pale brown or red-brown, with or without black spots. There is always a distinct, white lateral stripe and sometimes other stripes, down the backbone and on the upper flanks. The belly is bluish-white.
They occur from the south-eastern Cape, through East Africa to the Sudan, and west to Namibia, Angola and the Congo.
There habitat requirements are varies and they inhabit grasslands to arid and mesic savanna.
They forage on broken ground, climbing on rocks and tree bases.
Their diet consists of insects (grasshoppers, caterpillars and termites), spiders, and occasionally of other lizards.
Their prey is grabbed after a short dash from cover.
They are viviporous over most of their range and they give birth to 3 to 5 young. in the mid-summer. However, in the Northern Province they have been recorded as laying 6 to 12 eggs in November and December. The hatchlings measure 40mm to 50mm in length.
The growth of the young is rapid, and both sexes reach maturity at only eight months.
They may live for two years, but males usually die earlier at 15 to 16 months than females at 16 to 17 months.