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The behavioural repertoire of the diurnal rainbow skink (Carlia rostralis), a common species found along eastern creeks in the Wet Tropics of northern Queensland, was documented as part of a larger study of the animal’s reproductive biology. Focal observations of assertive, exploratory, maintenance, escape, aggressive, and courtship behaviour were made in the field during the early part of the breeding season and in the laboratory with males and females in staged encounters. Although much of the behavioural repertoire of this species is typical of diurnal lizards, several features of the behaviour of C. rostralis are notable. Female C. rostralis exhibit a high frequency of head bobbing and conspicuous perching, two assertive behaviours that appear to be related to their maintenance of female-exclusive home ranges during the breeding season. Another assertive display, the head raised posture, is exhibited by both males and females in encounters. The head raised posture prominently displays the sexually dimorphic gular colouration of adult C. rostralis and is used as a visual sexual recognition signal. In addition, copulatory postures in which the male grasps the female with a lateral mid-flank bite, are described and depicted, with this representing the first portrayal of these postures for any member of the genus Carlia. Overall the complexity of social and sexual behaviour exhibited by C. rostralis is greater than that previously attributed to scincid lizards which have been studied elsewhere. These observations suggest that more attention to comparative behavioural study of Australian scincid lizards would be productive.

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