Zoological Survey of India lists 62 species of Skinks

  • IASbaba
  • October 20, 2020
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Zoological Survey of India lists 62 species of Skinks

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Environment; Biodiversity

In news

  • A recent publication by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) reveals that India is home to 62 species of skinks.
  • Title of the publication: Skinks of India.

Key takeaways

  • It gives a phylogenetic (evolutionary development) and bio-geographical analysis of distribution of these species in all the 11 bio-geographic zones of India.
  • India is home to less than 4% of the skinks across the globe. 
  • 62 species of skinks are found in India.
  • About 57% of them (33 species) are endemic.
  • The four genera of skinks which are endemic to India are: (1) Sepsophis punctatus is endemic to the northern part of Eastern Ghats; (2) Barkudia are limbless skinks found in the hills and coastal plains of the eastern coast; (3) Kaestlea, also known as blue-tailed ground skinks, are endemic to the Western Ghats; (4) Ristella, also known as Cat skinks, are endemic to the southern part of Western Ghats.

Important value additions


  • It is the largest family of lizards.
  • There are 1,602 species of skinks across the world.
  • It has long body relatively small or no legs, no pronounced neck and glossy scales.
  • It is found around homes, garages, and open spaces such as sparks and school playgrounds, and around lakes.
  • Skinks are non-venomous, highly alert, agile and fast moving.
  • They actively forage for a variety of insects and small invertebrates.
  • They have a prominent role in maintaining ecosystems. 
  • However, not much is known about their breeding habits, and ecology because identification of the species can be confusing.
  • In India skinks are found in all kinds of habitats in the country, from the Himalayas to the coasts and from dense forests to the deserts.

Do you know?

  • Barkudia insularis is believed to be found only in the Barkud Island in Chilka lake in Odisha.
  • Barkudia melanosticta is endemic to Visakhapatnam.

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