King's Skinks Egernia kingii are large viviparous scincid lizards from southwestern Australia. Although some other species within the genus Egernia are known to exhibit complex sociality, with long-term associations between adults and their offspring, there are no published records of such behaviour for E. kingii. Ten years’ observations on a single family of lizards (a pair of adults plus six successive litters of their offspring) in a coastal suburban backyard 250 km south of Perth also revealed a very stable adult pair-bond in this species. The female produced litters of 9 to 11 offspring in summer or autumn at intervals of one to three years. In their first year of life, neonates lived with the adult pair and all the lizards basked together; in later years the offspring dispersed but the central shelter-site contained representatives of up to three annual cohorts as well as the parents. Adults tolerated juveniles (especially neonates) and their presence may confer direct parental protection: on one occasion an adult skink attacked and drove away a tigersnake Notechis scutatus that ventured close to the family's shelter-site. Although our observations are based only on a single pair of lizards and their offspring, they provide the most detailed evidence yet available on the complex family life of these highly social lizards.
Sociality in lizards: family structure in free-living King's Skinks Egernia kingii from southwestern Australia
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C. Masters, R. Shine; Sociality in lizards: family structure in free-living King's Skinks Egernia kingii from southwestern Australia. Australian Zoologist 1 October 2003; 32 (3): 377–380. doi: https://doi.org/10.7882/AZ.2002.015
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