common fivelined skink (Plestiodon fasciatus)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHARACTERISTICS: This is a medium-sized skink that grows to

a maximum snout-vent length of 3.4 inches (86 mm) and a maximum
total length of 8.5 inches (215 mm). The body scales are smooth,
over
lapping, and glossy. This skink has five white to cream stripes

on a dark brown to brownish-gray background color. The stripes go

half-way onto the original tail. Mating occurs in May, 6-12 eggs are

laid in June, and hatching occurs 4-6 weeks later. The female guards

the nest and turns the eggs daily. No parental care is given after hatch-

ing and one or more of the eggs may be eaten while the female broods

them. Juveniles are similar to adults but have a bright blue tail, which

serves to attract predators' attention away from the body. The tail breaks

off when the skink is attacked, and it continues to wriggle for some time

to distract the predator further. This skink will enter water, crawl into

crevices, or hide under objects or leaf litter to escape predators.

 

DISTRIBUTION: This species is found in all areas of Virginia. It in-

habits a variety of habitats in the eastern deciduous and southeastern

evergreen forests. It prefers moist habitats and is often found under ob-

jects such as logs and boards, or in standing snags. This skink will lay

its eggs in decaying logs and stumps. It may be observed near urban and

suburban buildings.

 

FOODS: This skink feeds predominantly on spiders, with the specific
choice dependent on the size of the lizard and the availability of the
prey. Large items such as big spiders, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles,
harvestmen, and snails are preferred.

 

 

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