Reptiles

Amphibians

Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus)

Description

This smooth-scaled skink varies in background coloration from near black to light tan. As the name suggests, five lighter stripes run from the head all the way onto the tail. In older individuals, these stripes may be nearly faded away. The belly is plain cream colored. Males develop orangish, enlarged cheeks during the breeding season. Juveniles have more contrast with a near black background, yellowish stripes, and bright blue tail.

This species looks very similar--if not identical--to other skink species found in Arkansas and examination of scales may be required to confirm identification. The Five-lined Skink has 2 postmental scales, 2 postlabial scales, and 7 upper labial scales (of which the 5th from the snout is in contact with the eye orbit). A postnasal scale is present.

As young, this species may be called a Blue-tailed Skink (a term shared amongst several skink species). It is also known as a Red-headed Skink.


Habitats

This is a very common forest-dwelling species. It seems to prefer areas with some moisture and significant structure for hiding and basking. It is a resident of wood and rock piles, backyard decks, and even perhaps the side of your house!


Habits and Life History

This species is most likely to be seen as it basks on sunny, summer days. You may need to go no farther than your back window to see one or two on your wooden deck, back porch, or privacy fence. It can also be exposed from a hiding spot under a rock, log, board, or coiled garden hose.

Breeding occurs in the spring. Females will lay eggs and brood them until hatching. In early summer, it is not uncommon to turn up a log and find a mother skink coiled around a half dozen small eggs. In such cases, it is generally best to gently return the cover object to minimize the disturbance to the nest.


Prey and Hunting Techniques

This species is diurnal and an active forager. It will alternate throughout the day between basking in the sun and hunting for its insect prey. Only prey that is easily subdued is taken.


Temperament and Defense

If approached, this species will hide under some kind of cover, such as a rock or log, or it may climb and tuck around behind a tree trunk. It is a relatively good climber. If captured, it may try to bite. Care must be taken since the tail is easily detached. The detached pieces will wiggle, providing a distraction to any would-be predator. Although a new tail will be regenerated, a lot of energy is required for this process and a regrown tail will always be suboptimal to the original. A spied juvenile may display tail wagging behavior, presumably to focus a potential predator on its bright blue detachable tail.


Conservation

This species currently holds no special status. It is a very common lizard species, even around human dwellings and disturbances.


State Distribution and Abundance

This species is found statewide. It is likely the most abundant lizard species found in Arkansas.

Gallery

Common Five-lined Skink, Hatchling Common Five-lined Skink, Hatchling Common Five-lined Skink, Hatchling Common Five-lined Skink, Hatchling Common Five-lined Skink, Eggs Five-lined Skink (Gravid Female) Five-lined Skink (Gravid Female) Five-lined Skink (Gravid Female) Five-lined Skink (Gravid Female) Five-lined Skink (Gravid Female) Five-lined Skink (Gravid Female) Five-lined Skink (Gravid Female) Five-lined Skink (Gravid Female) Five-lined Skink (Juvenile) Five-lined Skink (Juvenile) Five-lined Skink (Juvenile) Five-lined Skink (Juvenile) Five-lined Skink (Juvenile) Five-lined Skink (Juvenile) Five-lined Skink (Juvenile) Five-lined Skink (Male) Five-lined Skink (Male) Five-lined Skink (Male) Five-lined Skink (Male) Five-lined Skink (Male) Five-lined Skink (Male) IMG_5660 Five-lined Skink Five-lined Skink Eggs Five-lined Skink Eggs 2C3V9823 2C3V9140 Female Five-lined Skink Brooding Eggs Male Five-lined Skink Male Five-lined Skink Male Five-lined Skink Five-lined Skink Five-lined Skink Five-lined Skink Five-lined Skink Five-lined Skink Male Five-lined Skink Male Five-lined Skink Male Five-lined Skink Five-lined Skink Five-lined Skink Five-lined Skink Five-lined Skink Five-Lined Skink Five-Lined Skink Five-Lined Skink Five-Lined Skink Five-Lined Skink Showing Two Postmental Scales Five-Lined Skink Five-Lined Skink Five-Lined Skink Five-Lined Skink Five-Lined Skink Five-Lined Skink Five-Lined Skink Five-Lined Skink Five-Lined Skink Newly Hatched Five-Lined Skinks Newly Hatched Five-Lined Skink Five-Lined Skink in Leaf Litter Five-Lined Skink in Leaf Litter Five-Lined Skink in Leaf Litter

Contributors

  • kaptainkory January 03, 2007, at 12:04 PM (Original Contributor)

Bibliography

  • Behler, J. L., and F. W. King. 1979 (1987). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. 3rd ed. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 743 pp.
  • Conant, R., and J. T. Collins. 1998. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed., Expanded. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. 616 pp.
  • Trauth, S. E., H. W. Robison, and M. V. Plummer. 2004. Amphibians and Reptiles of Arkansas. University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville. 421 pp.

Discussion

< Southern Coal Skink | Lizard | Broad-headed Skink >

Edit - History - Recent Changes - Search
Page last modified on January 21, 2012, at 08:28 PM