Stony-soil ctenotus (Ctenotus saxatilis)

Stony-soil ctenotus

Top facts

  • The stony-soil ctenotus belongs to the largest group of lizards in Australia.
  • The genus name of the stony-soil ctenotus, Ctenotus, means ‘comb ear’, referring to the row of small scales along the front edge of its ear opening.
  • As its common name suggests, the stony-soil ctenotus is typically found in stony and rocky habitats.
  • The stony-soil ctenotus is a swift and opportunistic predator, and feeds on a variety of insects.
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Stony-soil ctenotus fact file

Stony-soil ctenotus description

GenusCtenotus (1)

The stony-soil ctenotus (Ctenotus saxatilis) is a boldly striped skink which belongs to the largest group of lizards in Australia (2) (3). The name of this genus of skinks, Ctenotus, means ‘comb ear’, and refers to the presence of a row of small scales along the front edge of the ear opening in these species (3) (4).

The body of the stony-soil ctenotus is olive-brown to reddish-brown above, with a pale-edged dark stripe running down the back. The sides of its body are marked with dark and white stripes, as well as pale speckles and blotches (2) (5).

Like other Ctenotus skinks, the stony-soil ctenotus has smooth scales and relatively long, well-developed limbs. Its tail is long and slender (2) (3).

Also known as
rock ctenotus.
Snout-vent length: up to 10 cm (2)

Stony-soil ctenotus biology

All Ctenotus species are extremely swift lizards which are active during the day (2) (4) and rely on their speed to escape danger (6). The stony-soil ctenotus is an opportunistic predator, and feeds on a variety of insects (5) (6).

Relatively little specific information is available on the breeding behaviour of the stony-soil ctenotus, but it is likely to breed in the dry season (4) (5) and to lay a single clutch of eggs each year (7). The stony-soil ctenotus has a clutch size of around two to six eggs (8).


Stony-soil ctenotus range

The stony-soil ctenotus is found in arid northern parts of Australia, from Western Australia to Queensland (1) (2) (5). This species also occurs on many offshore islands on the west coast, including Barrow Island (5).


Stony-soil ctenotus habitat

Across its widespread range, the stony-soil ctenotus inhabits a variety of habitats, including coastal vegetation, rocky slopes and creeks (2) (5). As its name suggests, it is often found in areas with stony soils, and like other members of its genus it typically occurs in dry, open environments (2).


Stony-soil ctenotus status

The stony-soil ctenotus has yet to be classified by the IUCN.


Stony-soil ctenotus threats

The stony-soil ctenotus is not known to be facing any major threats at present, and is listed as ‘Least Concern’ in the Northern Territory (8). Feral cats have been reported to prey upon this small lizard in some areas (10), but the impacts of this on the overall population are not known.


Stony-soil ctenotus conservation

No specific conservation measures are currently known to be in place for the stony-soil ctenotus. However, this species is protected in some parts of its range, such as on Barrow Island (5).


Find out more

Find out more about the stony-soil ctenotus and other reptiles at:

More information on conservation in Australia:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:



Previously domesticated animals that have returned to a wild state.
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.


  1. The Reptile Database (May, 2013)
  2. Wilson, S. (2005) A Field Guide to Reptiles of Queensland. Reed New Holland, Sydney.
  3. Australian Museum: Ctenotus - Australian lizards (May, 2013)
  4. Pianka, E.R. and Vitt, L.J. (2003) Lizards: Windows to the Evolution of Diversity. University of California Press, Berkeley.
  5. Moro, D. and MacAulay, I. (2010) A Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Barrow Island. Chevron Australia, Perth. Available at:
  6. Wilson, S.K. (2012) Australian Lizards: A Natural History. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
  7. Michael, D. and Lindenmayer, D. (2010) Reptiles of the NSW Murray Catchment: A Guide to Their Identification, Ecology and Conservation. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
  8. James, C. and Shine, R. (1988) Life-history strategies of Australian lizards: a comparison between the tropics and the temperate zone. Oecologia, 75: 307-316.
  9. Northern Territory Government, Department of Land Resource Management - Conservation Status of Animals of the Northern Territory: Reptiles (May, 2013)
  10. Paltridge, R., Gibson, D. and Edwards, G. (1997) Diet of the feral cat (Felix catus) in central Australia. Wildlife Research, 24: 67-76.

Image credit

Stony-soil ctenotus  
Stony-soil ctenotus

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