In order to breed lizards for our reintroduction programme, COET has established an outdoor captive breeding facility for lizards in Alexandra. After much trial and error, we have developed an innovative method of providing sufficient natural warmth for lizards during winter. This method involves providing access for skinks to pipes buried 1m below ground where temperatures remain above zero. During the winter of 2008, the outside temperature dropped to −5oC, whereas 1m below ground inside the pipe it dropped to +4oC.

We currently have 12 outdoor cages and four breeding pairs of Otago skinks. The Central Otago Ecological Trust is the only captive breeder of Otago skinks that are breeding this species in their former natural range.

Fig. 2. Two of four skink cages held by COET. Each cage houses 3 pairs of skinks separately. PVC pipes angling deep below ground level allow skinks to escape extreme temperatures.