‘Pit Fall’ for rainbow skink pests

Department of Conservation —  30/08/2014

By Denice Gillespie, Partnerships Ranger in Kaitaia

I recently visited the Shadehouse, a native plant nursery in Kerikeri, where I had the pleasure of meeting Roger a lizard enthusiast and member of Guardians of the Bay of Islands, a local group working on a diverse range of island restoration projects.

The Shadehouse nursery grows native plants for various community groups around the Bay of Islands. When the plants are ready at the nursery they are taken to whichever ecological district the seed came from and planted.

Group talking with Roger at the Shadehouse, Kerikeri.

Meeting Roger from the Guardians of the Bay of Islands

Potting mix which the Shadehouse uses on a regular basis has created the perfect breeding environment for rainbow skink, a pest species from Australia that competes with our native lizard species for food, habitat and space. Rainbow skinks are a threat to our invertebrates, ground nesting birds and other native lizard species. It also reproduces faster and in larger numbers than our native skinks.

Roger showed us various pit fall traps that he had set up around the Shadehouse as a biosecurity measure to trap these invasive pests.

The trap is made from a tin can placed inside of a hole with a piece of wood on top and is baited with cat food. The smooth tin walls make it difficult for rainbow skinks to escape but is friendly to our native species who are clever and can escape the traps.

A copper skink on the ground.

A clever native copper skink that can escape the trap

The traps are checked on a regular basis and they are proving to be very effective at catching rainbow skinks.

If you wish to trap pest skinks seek some advice from your local DOC office to avoid accidental harm to our native species.

Rainbow skink pest preserved in alcohol.

The rainbow skink pest

Thanks to Roger and the Shadehouse crew for a great day out in Kerikeri.