Australian rainbow/plague skinks in South Island

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Jake
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Australian rainbow/plague skinks in South Island

Postby Jake » Sat Jan 04, 2020 12:47 am

Just found three rainbow skinks plus a clutch of eggs on the outskirts of Blenheim, at Cloudy Bay Business Park. They have been dealt to - I'll post images when I get around to it. I had rung DoC, but their office is closed until after I get back up North (after my holiday) and I rang the Council, but wasn't sure if they would do anything, so went back to the location and nipped their little necks and squashed the eggs. I now understand that an eradication program happened or was started in Blenheim in 2018(?). Sure hope this is the last we hear of them, down here!
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David Riddell
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Re: Australian rainbow/plague skinks in South Island

Postby David Riddell » Sat Jan 04, 2020 8:49 am

I hope so too, but seeing the speed that they've spread through the North Island I suspect it's a forlorn hope. Especially since, looking at Google Maps, I see there's a railway track running right past the Cloudy Bay Business Park. The gravel and rough vegetation along the tracks seems to be ideal habitat for these skinks, plus of course they can easily hitch a ride in rail freight. Apparently they were first reported in the Riverlands area of Blenheim, which is also alongside the railway, so they're probably all along the track in between.
Jake
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Re: Australian rainbow/plague skinks in South Island

Postby Jake » Fri Jan 10, 2020 8:20 pm

Cheers for the info, David

I rang the local DoC office today and reported the situation. Here's some pics of the situation... for public record's sake. The first image was before I realised what I was seeing, the second one was after I returned a few days later
P1000562.JPG
Rainbow skink and nest under irrigation controls cover
P1000562.JPG (630.7 KiB) Viewed 1832 times

P1000665.JPG
Euthanised rainbow skinks, eggs and embryo
P1000665.JPG (468.34 KiB) Viewed 1832 times
Hypno
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Re: Australian rainbow/plague skinks in South Island

Postby Hypno » Sat Jan 11, 2020 9:47 pm

Wow those eggs are huge.
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Neil Fitzgerald
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Re: Australian rainbow/plague skinks in South Island

Postby Neil Fitzgerald » Sat Feb 01, 2020 10:29 am

Damn. I didn't know they had made it to SI. Seems unlikely that is all of them. This would be a good observation to put on iNaturalist.nz. There are currently no SI obs there.
Jake
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Re: Australian rainbow/plague skinks in South Island

Postby Jake » Fri Jan 01, 2021 8:40 pm

Plague (rainbow) skinks update. Early in 2020 I found them breeding in Cloudy Bay Business Park and euthanized the three adults and the nest of five eggs. Having been back one year later, I can see that they are now abundant in that same area. All my observations have been recorded on the iNaturalist website
Having spoken to MPI, they've told me that, regarding this Blenheim population:
    ○ Genetic work shows the Riverlands Industrial Estate and CBBP skinks have been a breeding population for ~20 years
    ○ These lizards are genetically different to the North Island pop'n, so they are likely to have come directly from Australia
    ○ They were first noticed in this area in 2018 and a biosecurity dog has been through and mapped their range
    ○ Eradication is unlikely here, as their range is so wide and population and breeding rate is high. Forest and Bird are assisting with controlling their numbers. Other players are MPI, Marlborough District Council and DOC. F&B have mentioned trapping but their are poison baits available. Both these main sites are domestic and international exporting hubs
Other South Island info:
    ○ A major plant retailer has reported them in plants coming from North Island nurseries. Other reports have come from people buying plants from Trade Me and getting them in the post
    ○ The efforts at eliminating the Havelock pop'n are looking good. This is especially important/outstanding as Havelock is a gateway to ecologically important islands in the Marlborough Sounds (similar to the islands nearer Auckland, where this species is now a real problem)
    ○ The skinks from Waikawa (near Picton) were likely from a recent house move from near Auckland and did not become established
Jake
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Re: Australian rainbow/plague skinks in South Island

Postby Jake » Wed Jan 06, 2021 11:16 am

A friend has informed me of one report from DOC, in Dunedin. There is a report on iNaturalist from Chch too. I should have mentioned that the Havelock and Waikawa incursions have been since 2018. I'm hearing reports on Facebook from the lower North Island too: Tokomaru (South of Palmerston North) apparently has a population; reports from Palmerston North too and from the Kapiti Coast

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