Five-lined skink

Can detach their tails when threatened by predators

Ken Thomas

A small, colorful lizard found in various parts of North America, especially in the eastern United States. This little reptile is a common sight in forests, woodlands, and even suburban areas. Their most striking feature is their bright blue tail, which is incredibly vivid in juveniles. As these skinks age, the blue color fades, and their tails become more grayish or brown. They also have five distinct stripes running from their head to their tail, giving them their common name.

Male skinks can be distinguished from females and juveniles by their reddish-orange heads, which become more pronounced during the breeding season. The vibrant colors and stripes of the five-lined skink make it easy to identify and a favorite among reptile enthusiasts.

The five-lined skink, a testament to nature’s adaptability, thrives in a variety of habitats. It shows a preference for moist, wooded environments with plenty of cover, such as logs, leaf litter, and rocks. These skinks are also commonly found in gardens, parks, and suburban areas, showcasing their ability to coexist with human habitats. They are primarily ground dwellers but are also excellent climbers. You might spot them basking on tree trunks or scampering up walls and fences in search of food or a sunny spot to warm up.

Five-lined skinks are insectivores, meaning their diet consists mainly of insects and other small invertebrates. They feed on a variety of prey, including spiders, crickets, beetles, and caterpillars. These skinks are active hunters, using their keen eyesight and quick reflexes to catch their prey. Their feeding habits help control insect populations, making them beneficial to the ecosystems they inhabit. In turn, they serve as prey for larger animals, such as birds, snakes, and mammals, contributing to the food web.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Canada
2007
United States
2007

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No