Chioninia coctei   (Duméril & Bibron)

Cape Verde Giant Skink
(Chioninia coctei)

syn. Euprepes coctei (Duméril & Bibron), Euprepis coctei (Gray), Charactodon coctei (Troschel), Macroscincus coctei (Bocage), Macroscincus cocteaui (Bocage), Macroscincus coctaei (Peracca)


Cape Verde: Ilhéu Branco, Ilhéu Raso, Ilhéu Santa Luzia, Ilhéu São Vicente / Ilhas do Barlavento

local name:

Lagarto (Cape Verdean Creole)

size: ca. 50 cm (length)

extinction date: 1940

The Giant Skink survived on the two tiny islets of Branco and Raso into the early 20th century, on the larger neighbouring islands of Santa Luzia and São Vicente the species is known to have existed, based on subfossil bone findings. The skink was originally an inhabitant of the, in former time existing, dry forests, but was able to adapt to the changing living conditions caused by anthropogenic influence and could also get along in dry habitats.

The animal was about 50 cm long. It was mostly an herbivore, but from time to time also fed on smaller animals.

Someday the inhabitants of the neighbouring islands discovered that the fat of the skinks was very suitable as an ointment. So the animals were cought in masses to be manufactured into ointment.

The last Giant Skink in the wild was seen in the year 1912. The last specimen in captivity died in the year 1940.


In the year 2005 J. A. Mateo, M. G. Márquez and L. F. L. Jurado analyzed excrements of feral cats on the island of Santa Luzia and found at this a maxilla, which they assumed to have originated from an juvenile specimen of the Giant Skink.

Intensive searches on the island one year later however were unsuccessful.


Cape Verde Giant Skink (Chioninia coctei)

Depiction from 'C. França: Le Professeur Barbosa du Bocage. Boletim da Sociedade Portuguesa de Ciências Naturais, Vol. 2, pp. 141-194, 1908'


- José A. Mateo, Marcos García Márquez, Luis Felipe López Jurado: Primeras evidencias de la supervivencia del Escinco Gigante de Cabo Verde, Macroscincus coctei (Duméril & Bibron, 1839). Boletín de la Asociación Herpetológica Española, Vol. 15(2): 73-75. 2005
- Aurélien Miralles; Raquel Vasconcelos; Ana Perera, David J. Harris; Salvador Carranza: An integrative taxonomic revision of the Cape Verdean skinks (Squamata, Scincidae). Zoologica Scripta 40, 2010