Three-Clawed Worm Skink

Identifying A Three-Clawed Worm Skink

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Three-Clawed Worm Skink (Anomalopus verreauxii)

The three-clawed worm skink is a fascinating snake-like reptile that is commonly sighted across Queensland and the Sunshine Coast. Despite its snake-like appearance, the three-clawed worm skink is not a snake but rather a legless lizard, similar to Burton’s Legless Lizard.

The three-clawed worm skink has often been mistaken for a snake and even a worm due to its slender and elongated body. However, upon closer inspection, you will notice that it has four small limbs that make it distinct from snakes!

These harmless lizards have a skink-like tongue and can be found in gardens where they love to burrow into compost and garden clippings.


About the Three-Clawed Worm Skink

The three-clawed worm skink is an interesting lizard species that is endemic to Australia. These snake-like lizards can grow up to lengths of 30-50cm and have a very glossy skin that ranges from light to dark brown colour, with a very smooth and rounded shape, making them look distinctly like worms.

There are several ways to identify this harmless reptile if you discover one in your home or garden. In addition to its glossy skin and brown colouring, the three-clawed worm skink has a prominent band across its head, as well as big, distinct eyes and nostrils.

Much like Burton’s Legless Lizard, the most recognisable features of the three-clawed worm skink is its lack of visible limbs. However, upon closer inspection, these lizards actually have short legs with three tiny toes on their front limbs, while their back ‘feet’ are often toe-less. These legs are weak and contribute to their snake-like movement, often making them a challenge to identify in the wild.


Where Can You Find The Three-Clawed Worm Skink?

The three-clawed worm skink is a native Australian species that can be found predominantly in Queensland and New South Wales. These skinks tend to favour lush areas with plenty of vegetation and moisture, such as forests, vine thickets and coastal scrubs. They have also been known to adapt to other habitats as well, including home gardens and beneath logs in open paddocks.


Is The Three-Clawed Worm Skink Dangerous?

Much like the blue-tongued lizard and pink-tongued skink, as well as Burton’s legless lizard, the three-clawed worm skink is completely harmless and does not pose a danger to humans and will not cause any lasting damage if eaten by a pet.

Three-clawed worm skinks are generally non-aggressive and would rather flee or hide than fight or bite, as they are not venemous. When threatened, they can also detach their tail to escape a predator and regrow it over time.


What Does the Three-Clawed Worm Skink Eat?

The three-clawed worm skinks are insectivores by nature, and their diet mainly consists of small insects and invertebrates.


What to do if you see A Three-Clawed Worm Skink

These “legless” lizards are primarily active at night and are less likely to venture into homes or built-up areas. However, pets have been known to bring these skinks indoors. However, you may come across a three clawed worm skink or two in your garden! 

If you would like a three-clawed worm skink removed from your garden, please contact the Snake Rescue Sunny Coast team. Our licensed and experienced snake handlers can safely capture and relocate the skink to a more suitable location.

Three-Clawed Worm Skink

Frequently Asked Questions

A three-clawed worm skink is a lizard species that is native to Australia. It is called “three-clawed” due to the presence of three tiny toes on its front limbs, while its back “feet” are often toeless. These lizards move more like snakes than lizards due to their short and weak legs and are often mistaken for worms or snakes.

Yes, the three-clawed worm skink does have legs. However they are very small and can look limbless from afar.

This lizard looks and moves like a snake, which can make it difficult to identify. However there are several distinguishing features to look out for including:

  • A fleshy skink-like tongue
  • A distinguished band around the head (These are most prominent in juveniles and may fade over time)
  • Smooth gloss skin that is light to dark brown in colour
  • Round, elongated shape, similar to a worm or snake.
  • Big, dark eyes and nostrils

These skinks rarely bite, and if they do, it is most likely in self-defense. This lizards is more likely to run away and hide, and may even drop its tail in an attempt to confuse predators.

No, three-clawed worm skinks are not venomous or poisonous. They are completely harmless and do not pose any danger to humans or pets, if bitten or ingested. 

If a three-clawed worm skink is found in your garden, it does not necessarily need to be removed as they are not harmful and can be beneficial in controlling insect populations. However, if you want to remove it, it is recommended to contact a licensed and experienced snake handler who can safely capture and relocate the skink to a more suitable location.

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