Surprise arrival has keeper guessing

Perth Zoo reptile keeper Emily Trainer with the unexpected but safe arrival of the two baby shingleback skinks.
Perth Zoo reptile keeper Emily Trainer with the unexpected but safe arrival of the two baby shingleback skinks.

Their arrival was unexpected as the mum had been in an all-female enclosure.

‘The mum has been in an enclosure with another female since January and there was nothing to show she was pregnant, so it was a big surprise,’ Perth Zoo reptile keeper Emily Trainer said.

‘She had put on a little weight, but not a lot, and shingleback babies are born quite large so it was a shock.’

The mother was one of seven shingleback lizards given a home at the zoo after they were seized by customs and wildlife officers.

They were discovered in the baggage of a man planning to leave Australia.

Ms Trainer said she entered their enclosure in the morning as usual and noticed ‘something’ lying in the leaf litter.

‘At first I thought, what on earth is that? Then I saw it was a baby. I know they usually have two babies, so I looked around further and I found the other one,’ she said.

‘They were both in good health so it was a great result, even if it was unplanned.’

Shingleback skinks have a five-month gestation period.

Ms Trainer said the mother was likely to have become pregnant while in quarantine with the other seized lizards, just before she was moved to the female enclosure.

The family of Mainland Shingleback Skinks are worth more than $4,000 each on the Asian black market and are sold as exotic pets.

The man who tried to smuggle the shinglebacks out of Australia was caught in a joint operation by Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and the WA Department of Parks and Wildlife.

He was charged under both state and commonwealth laws, and sentenced in February to 12 months in jail and fined $2000.