Petiles Spotlight: The Yellow-Bellied Three-Toed Skink

I have a soft spot in my heart for Skinks. They are lizards with almost non-existent arms, what’s not to love? Now, I know I typically talk about rare or endangered species in my spotlights. Today though, the species I want to talk about is neither of those. The Yellow-Bellied Three-Toed Skink is a commonly found lizard. So, why do I want to talk about them? One reason, and one reason only, this picture of one.
Yellow-Bellied Three-Toed Skink

Don’t get the appeal? Let’s zoom in a bit.

Three-Toed Skink - What you lookin at?

What did you just say to me?

Okay, so it may be a dumb reason that’s only funny to me. If you’re looking for a more concrete, or scientific, reason, just go ahead and believe it’s because of their dual reproduction habits. (Yes, we will get to that.)

Scientific Information

The Yellow-Bellied Three-Toed Skink, or Saiphos equalis, is one of many skink species found in Australia. More specifically, this species is commonly found in Eastern Australia in Queensland and New South Wales. This species is the only one in the genus Saiphos. These guys only reach a length of around 7 inches from head to tail. In terms of coloring, they have an orange belly while their back is brown. Does it bug anyone else that they are called Yellow-Bellied when their bellies are actually orange? By all accounts, this seems like a fairly normal skink species. However, this species has recently attracted the attention of the scientific community for one reason.

Dual Reproduction Habits

Yellow-Bellied Three-Toed Skink
When it comes to reproduction, we normally think of giving live birth or laying eggs. This species is special because the way it gives birth depends on the region it inhabits. In the lower coastal areas where this species can be found, they produce their young by laying eggs. However, in the mountainous regions they give live birth to their young. This is evolution in action. It can actually be broken down even further into three different versions of reproduction. There are what they call the short-day oviparous population. The eggs laid by this population have thinner shells and almost fully-developed embryos. There is another population though that lays eggs with thicker shells which take about 15 days to hatch.


I wasn’t able to find any information about keeping this species as a pet. I don’t believe they are a part of the pet trade. What they are though is a really interesting skink species and a prime example of evolution at work. Hopefully you learned something interesting!

Have a question about Skinks? Leave a comment below!

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