As reptile keeping grows in popularity, Victorians are being reminded to only buy pets from licensed dealers and to be on the lookout for suspicious or unlawful poaching activity.

Cunningham SkinkIn Victoria, captive-bred reptiles such as the Cunningham’s Skink (Egernia cunninghami) can be kept as pets without a licence. Unfortunately, this species is often targeted by poachers who remove the animals from their natural environment to keep or sell on the black market.

This illegal trade depletes wild populations and subjects animals to cruel and inhumane treatment.

Cunningham’s Skinks can live for up to 20 years and form complex social family groups in small colonies. They naturally occur in grassland, open woodland, and rocky outcrops around the edge of Melbourne. Removing even one animal from these colonies can disrupt the family dynamics for multiple generations.

Members of the community are encouraged to come forward with information about unlawful reptile trading or report suspicious or illegal activity.

Victoria's wildlife is protected under the Wildlife Act 1975. The maximum penalty for illegally hunting, taking or destroying protected wildlife is $8,261 and/or six months imprisonment. An additional fine of more than $820 per head of wildlife may also apply.

Anyone with information should contact DELWP on 136 186 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Quotes attributable to Program Leader - Threatened Fauna, Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Nick Clemann

“Cunningham’s Skinks have complex social structures and live in family groups with monogamous partnerships between the adults. Removing even one animal from a colony through poaching can disrupt several generations of this fascinating species.”

Quotes attributable to Conservation Regulator Senior Forest and Wildlife Officer Joel Cox

“We urge people to come forward with any information they have about illegal reptile trading and unlawful poaching. This information can be provided anonymously and is treated confidentially.”

“Before buying a reptile, people should obtain the necessary licences, and do their due diligence when selecting a dealer, especially when the animals are advertised online. The animals must be captive-bred, and dealers must clearly display their licences in their premises and include their licence number on online advertisements.”