Five-lined Skink

From Ohio History Central

A skink is a commonly found member of the lizard family. They are very close to snakes except they have four legs, external ear openings and moveable eyelids.

In addition to the five-lined skink (Eumeces fasciatus), Ohio also has the broad-head skink (E. laticeps) and the ground skink (Lygosoma laterale).

The five-lined skink gets its name from the five broad light stripes on its black or brown body. These stripes fade with age, until the adults look a uniform color. The tail of the skink is a bluish-gray. This tail plays an important role in the skink's defense. If a predator grabs the skink by the tail, the tail breaks off. This gives the skink time to get away. Eventually the tail will grow back, but it will not be as long or as colorful as the original.

During the April-May breeding season, males will have a red-orange snout. Females will dig a nest under log or rock and lay between 4-15 eggs. She will guard the eggs for the 24 to 55 days it will take for them to hatch. When born, the skink is approximately two inches long. They will grow to be five to eight inches long and live for five to six years.

Skinks are one of the fastest reptiles in the world. Their speed also helps them to escape capture. If captured, the skink will bite, but its teeth are too small to cause any damage.

The five-lined skink lives in a habitat of moist or humid locations such as woodlands with leaf litter, stumps and logs. It is in these conditions that they can hunt for their typical foods, which are insects, earthworms, crustaceans, lizards and small mice. It is diurnal and spends all of its time on the ground, climbing only to the top of tree stumps to bask in the sun.

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