little brown skink (Scincella lateralis)
CHARACTERISTICS: This is a small, golden-brown skink that grows
to a maximum snout-vent length of 2.2 in. (57 mm) and a total length of
5.7 in. (146 mm). The body scales are smooth, shiny, and overlapping.
The back is tan to golden-brown, with a narrow, dark brown stripe on
each side. The belly is pale cream to light gray, with lighter areas on the
chin and at the waist. The tail breaks off easily when the skink is captured
or threatened by a predator. Regenerated tails are light brown. No other
Virginia lizard has the transparent window in each eyelid. Unlike lizards
in Genera Eumeces and Ophisaurus, female ground skinks do not re-
main with their eggs after laying. This skink is terrestrial.
DISTRIBUTION: This species is widely distributed in the Coastal Plain
and Piedmont of Virginia. Only one population has been found in the Blue
Ridge region. It inhabits hardwood and mixed hardwood forests, living
in the leaf litter on the forest floor. It may somtimes be found in urban
woodlots, grasslands, and pine forests.
FOODS: Ground skinks forage under leaves and in grass for small inver-
tebrates. Specimens from Virginia had eaten wood boring beetles, wood
roaches, ants, leafhoppers, butterfly larvae and adults, unidentified spi-
ders, and isopods.
Crooked Run Valley