Variable Skink

© Tyrone Ping


Variable Skink (Mabuya varia)








Both males and females of this mediums sized skink species measure 50 to 60 mm in length. It has a transparent window in each lower eyelid and a rounded snout. Its colour varies from black to olive, pale brown or a reddish-brown. It may be with or without black spots but is always marked by a prominent white line down its back and upper flanks. Its belly is bluish-white in colour.

Variable Skink Diet

The variable skink feeds primarily on caterpillars, termites, spiders and grasshoppers, and at times will eat other lizards.

Variable Skink Breeding

Females are viviparous but at times lay six to 12 eggs. The eggs hatch after an incubation period of 60 days. The young grow fast and reach maturity at the age of eight months.

Variable Skink Distribution

In South Africa, the variable skink can be found in the southern regions of the Eastern Cape. To the west of the continent, they occur in Namibia, Angola and Congo, and through East Africa to Sudan and Somalia.


The Mabuya varia nyikae has not been well established but is recognised at times from the Nyika Plateau in Malawi.

Field Notes

Because of the variable skink’s variation in colour, they are often difficult to identify. It remains one of the most widespread and common skinks, however.