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Five-lined Skink

Eumeces [Plestiodon] faciatus


Black bodied skink with stripes from face through tail. Tail starts blue-green which then turns purple through tail tip. Approx 2-2.5" long There was another skink this morning about the same size that appeared black with dotted white stripes from the face through the tail. I did not notice blue-green or purple coloring in the tail.


Seen running along the deck. common five-lined skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) Photos Distribution Map 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, overlapping, 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 hatching 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 inhabits a variety of habitats in the eastern deciduous and southeastern evergreen forests. It prefers moist habitats and is often found under objects 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. More Information For more information, please visit the Virginia Fish & Wildlife Information Service (direct link to species booklet).

1 Species ID Suggestions

Machi 5 years ago
Plestiodon sp. Plestiodon

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Machi 5 years ago

As I mentioned in my previous comment, it is impossible to identify this down to the species level. It is either Plestiodon laticeps, Plestiodon fasciatus, or Plestiodon inexpectatus. They all have blue tails when they are juveniles.

Machi 5 years ago

I am always happy to see those blue tails! This is a skink, not a salamander (salamanders are amphibians, skinks are reptiles). It cannot be identified to the species level without photos of the face or underside of the tail, unfortunately.

Spotted by

South Carolina, USA

Spotted on Jul 23, 2015
Submitted on Jul 24, 2015

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