Kasner’s dwarf burrowing skink (Scelotes kasneri)

Kasner's dwarf burrowing skink
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Kasner’s dwarf burrowing skink fact file

Kasner’s dwarf burrowing skink description

GenusScelotes (1)

While this peculiar reptile may look like a snake, it is actually a lizard. It lacks forelimbs but it does have tiny hindlimbs each bearing two claws (2). The body is covered with small, smooth scales and has a straw-coloured stripe along the back. Bordering this stripe are three rows of scales which bear dark purple-brown spots, creating the impression of three dark stripes on either side. The belly is yellowish-white to greyish-white and the underside of the tail is patterned with dark spots. The flattened head of Kasner’s dwarf burrowing skink has well-developed eyes with opaque lower eyelids and very small ear openings (2).

Snout-vent length: 80 – 105 mm (2)

Kasner’s dwarf burrowing skink biology

Little is known about the biology of Kasner’s dwarf burrowing skink, which is rarely encountered due to its underground lifestyle (4). Other Scelotes species are viviparous and give birth to between one and four young (2), and the majority of skinks feed on arthropods and insects (5).


Kasner’s dwarf burrowing skink range

Occurs along the coast of the Western Cape Province, South Africa, from Lambert’s Bay to Vredenburg (2).


Kasner’s dwarf burrowing skink habitat

Kasner’s dwarf burrowing skink inhabits coastal dunes with little vegetation, where it is found under stones and litter (2), and will quickly wriggle into the sand if disturbed (3).


Kasner’s dwarf burrowing skink status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Kasner’s dwarf burrowing skink threats

Kasner’s dwarf burrowing skink is considered threatened due to the destruction and degradation of its coastal habitat (6). This is the result of coastal development, primarily for holiday housing, water extraction and agriculture (4).


Kasner’s dwarf burrowing skink conservation

As yet, there are no conservation measures known to be in place for Kasner’s dwarf burrowing skink.

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

For further information on conservation in the Western Cape, South Africa see:



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: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk


A very diverse phylum (a major grouping of animals) that includes crustaceans, insects and arachnids. All arthropods have paired jointed limbs and a hard external skeleton (exoskeleton).
Giving birth to live offspring that develop inside the mother’s body.


  1. IUCN Red List (April, 2007)
  2. Branch, B. (1998) Field Guide to Snakes and other Reptiles of Southern Africa. Ralph Curtis Books Publishing, Florida.
  3. CapeNature (May, 2008)
  4. Turner, A.A., de Villiers, A.L. and Baard, E.H.W. (2007) Western Cape Province State of Biodiversity 2007: Reptiles. CapeNature Scientific Services, South Africa.
  5. Halliday, T. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  6. Baard, E.H.W. and de Villiers, A.L. (2000) State of Biodiversity: Western Cape Province, South Africa: Amphibians and Reptiles. Western Cape Nature Conservation Board, Stellenbosch.

Image credit

Kasner's dwarf burrowing skink  
Kasner's dwarf burrowing skink

© Atherton de Villiers

Atherton de Villiers
Private Bag X5014
Stellenbosch, 7599
South Africa


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