The Chester Zoo has acquired 12 Bermuda skinks (Plestiodon longirostris) in an effort to learn how to breed the species in captivity to ensure that their populations can be stabilized, according to a report on news site Chester First. The Bermuda skink is one of the most endangered species of lizard in the world and is listed as critical on the IUCN Red List.
Bermuda skink. Photo by Brian Gratwicke/Wikimedia
Dr. Gerardo Garcia, curator of lower vertebrates and invertebrates at the zoo said that it would take just one disaster, manmade or natural, to wipe out the remaining wild populations of the Bermuda skink. Garcia and his team will recreate the climate, substrate, and temperature of Bermuda and will attempt to breed the species with hopes of returning captive bred species back into the wild. The team will also microchip any released lizards in an effort to track the reptiles and learn how long they live and where they travel around the islands. Results of the breeding effort will be shared as a toolkit with Bermuda's Department of Conservation Services and the Bermuda Zoological Society so these organizations can breed the species as well.
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The Bermuda skink's population numbers have dwindled due to such factors as habitat loss and the introduction of non native species such as cats, rats and birds to the island environment.
It grows to about three inches in length, not including the tail and is known locally as the rock lizard. It can be found in rocky coastal areas of the Bermudas and eats crickets, beetles, and terrestrial crustaceans. It was listed as a protected species in 2003 by the Bermuda Protected Species Act.