Skink SP-606 - History

Skink SP-606 - History


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Skink
(SP-606: t. 10; 1. 50'; b. 10'6"; s. 17 k.; cpl. 7;
a. 1 mg.)

Skink (SP—605), a motor boat built in 1917 by George Lawley and Son, Neponset, Mass., was acquired by the Navy on 30 June 1917 from Robert D. Longyear, Cambridge, Mass; having already been commissioned on 13 June 1917. She carried out patrol duties in the 1st Naval District until decommissioned on 22 November 1918. Skink was returned to her owner on 24 February 1919.


Skink

Skinks were created by the Old Ones, perhaps from giant newts, [1b] not for fighting but to assist the Slann and work as architects, diplomats, interpreters, scribes etc. Some Skinks are gifted with magical power and become Skink Priests. They are weaker than the Saurus and are spawned in larger numbers, their ability to work in teams and quicker wits making them essential as the main workforce for the Old Ones and later the Slann. [1a] [2a]

Perhaps due to their heritage, they are equally at home in the water. [1b]


Skilton's Skink - Plestiodon skiltonianus skiltonianus


Red = Range of this subspecies in California

Plestiodon skiltonianus skiltonianus - Skilton's Skink


Range of the other subspecies in California:


Click map for a topographical view

"The extension of the striped pattern on the tail is also seen in specimens of skiltonianus from the coastal ranges of California. However, specimens from north of San Diego County are generally less obviously striped on the tail and if so then with only an occasional one having the interparietal enclosed."

"Diagnosis: this form is most closely related to typical skiltonianus with which it intergrades in San Diego and Riverside counties California. It is different to all other skiltonianus in having the interparietal reduced in size and enclosed posteriorly by the parietals,
the medial and lateral dark stripes extend from the body to or beyond the middle of the tail."


P. s. skiltonianus - Skilton's Skink

"Interparietal rarely enclosed by the parietals. Usually less than 10 per cent even in Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties and/or stripes of body pattern not extended on more than the base of the tail."


P. s. utahensis - Great Basin Skink

"Dorsolateral stripe occupying more than half of the second scale row and being nearly one half the diameter of the dark dorsal interspace.
Dark stripe below lateral light stripe rarely present.
Diameter of the dorsolateral stripe usually greater than the length of the first nuchal."

It is also found in the southern Sierra Nevada on the Kern Plateau, the Greenhorn and Piute mountains, Mt. Breckenridge, Caliente Creek, and east of the Sierra Nevada in isolated locations, including the Bodie Hills, the White Mountains, and on the east slope of the Sierra Nevada at Olancha.

Not present in the southern deserts and much of the central valleys.

Also present on Santa Catalina Island. (Jones, Lawrence, Rob Lovich, 2009, shows P. s. interparietalis inhabiting Santa Catalina Island, but the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History has a specimen from the island labelled P. s. skiltonianus, and for that reason I show P. s. skiltonianus inhabiting the island instead of P. s. interparietalis.)

The species Plestiodon skiltonianus ranges beyond California north into inland British Columbia, east into Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and northcentral Arizona, and south to the southern tip of Baja California.

1 Tanner 1957 describes some intergrade areas: "Intergrades skiltonianus x interparietalis San Diego Co.: Escondido Oceanside Poway."

Some taxonomists do not recognize the southern California subspecies P. s. interparietalis. They group it with P. s. skiltonianus.

Brandley et al. (2005 Syst. Biol. 54:373-390) replaced Eumeces with Plestiodon.

The Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles has adopted the use of Plestiodon in the sixth edition of their Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America north of Mexico list.


Jonathan Q. Richmond, and Tod W. Reeder, in their 2002 paper * list one specimem from the San Diego State University collection (SDSU 3816) utahensis CA, Inyo Co., Independence Creek at Gray&rsquos Meadow campsite. 36 47.2N, 118 15.2W) that comes from an area fairly far south of the Nevada border on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains just east of Independence as E. s. utahensis, Great Basin Skink. The Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at UC Berkeley has specimens of P. skiltionianus (with no subspecies indicated) from Inyo County including Gray's Meadow and another location east of Independence the White Mountains, and the White Mountains. If the SDSU specimen identification is correct, it is possible that this subspecies ranges in an isolated region east of Independence and in the White Mountains.


Alternate and Previous Names (Synonyms)

Eumeces skiltonianus skiltonianus - Skilton's Skink (Stebbins 2003)
Eumeces skiltonianus skiltonianus - Western Skink (Stebbins 1966)
Eumeces skiltonianus - Common Western Skink (Smith 1946)

1 Tanner, Wilmer W. A taxonomic and ecological study of the western skink (Eumeces skiltonianus). Great Basin Naturalist 17:59-94 1957.

Stebbins, Robert C., and McGinnis, Samuel M. Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of California: Revised Edition (California Natural History Guides) University of California Press, 2012.

Stebbins, Robert C. California Amphibians and Reptiles. The University of California Press, 1972.

Bartlett, R. D. & Patricia P. Bartlett. Guide and Reference to the Turtles and Lizards of Western North America (North of Mexico) and Hawaii. University Press of Florida, 2009.

Jones, Lawrence, Rob Lovich, editors. Lizards of the American Southwest: A Photographic Field Guide. Rio Nuevo Publishers, 2009.

Smith, Hobart M. Handbook of Lizards, Lizards of the United States and of Canada. Cornell University Press, 1946. Samuel M. McGinnis and Robert C. Stebbins. Peterson Field Guide to Western Reptiles & Amphibians. 4th Edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2018.

Stebbins, Robert C. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. 3rd Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003.

Behler, John L., and F. Wayne King. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.

Powell, Robert., Joseph T. Collins, and Errol D. Hooper Jr. A Key to Amphibians and Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. The University Press of Kansas, 1998.

Brown et. al. Reptiles of Washington and Oregon. Seattle Audubon Society,1995.

Nussbaum, R. A., E. D. Brodie Jr., and R. M. Storm. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Pacific Northwest. Moscow, Idaho: University Press of Idaho, 1983.

St. John, Alan D. Reptiles of the Northwest: Alaska to California Rockies to the Coast. Lone Pine Publishing, 2002.

Lemm, Jeffrey. Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of the San Diego Region (California Natural History Guides). University of California Press, 2006.

* Jonathan Q. Richmond, and Tod W. Reeder. EVIDENCE FOR PARALLEL ECOLOGICAL SPECIATION IN SCINCID LIZARDS OF THE EUMECES SKILTONIANUS SPECIES GROUP (SQUAMATA: SCINCIDAE) Evolution, 56(7), 2002, pp. 1498&ndash1513

If no status is listed here, the animal is not included on either list. This most likely indicates that there are no serious conservation concerns for the animal. To find out more about an animal's status you can go to the NatureServe and IUCN websites to check their rankings.

This animal is not included on the Special Animals List, which indicates that there are no significant conservation concerns for it in California.


Traditional Scottish Cullen Skink

Cullen skink, one of Scotland's most famous dishes, is a hearty soup that is traditionally made with smoked haddock. The name of this soup comes from Cullen, a small town in the northeast of Scotland. Skink is the Scottish term for a knuckle, shin, or hough of beef, so most soups made of these parts were called skink. When people in northern Scotland were unable to find scraps of beef due to economic strains but had plenty of fish to cook with, and smoked haddock was found everywhere, meat stews transformed into fish-based soups, but the name skink stuck.

In this version of the famous recipe, mashed potatoes add thickness and creaminess, while in other versions, the potatoes are added in chunks. The best potatoes for our skink would be waxier types rather than those traditionally used for mash.

This Cullen skink recipe is also known as smoked haddock chowder in other parts of Britain, and both dishes are very similar.​ This recipe is also a gluten-free dish as the only thickener used is potatoes.


Animal Diversity Web

The range of Plestiodon fasciatus , the five-lined skink, extends south from the lower peninsula of Michigan, southern Ontario, and eastern New York to northern Florida, and west to Wisconsin, part of Michigan's upper penninsula, Missouri, and eastern regions of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Isolated populations also occur in northeasten Iowa, west central Minnesota, and connected portions of southern Minnesota and Wisconsin (Harding 1997).

Habitat

Five-lined skinks prefer moist, but not wet, wooded or partially wooded areas with significant cover and abundant basking sites. These sites may include wood or brush piles, stumps, logs, rocky outcrops, loose bark, and abandoned buildings. Most five-lined skinks inhabit disturbed environments, such as forest edges, cleared areas, or burned regions, commonly called ecotone areas. Five-lined skink populations may also occur among driftwood piles on the sandy beaches of the Great Lakes (Harding 1997). Home range size is affected by available habitat type as well as changes in seasonal food distribution, shelter, and other requirements. Home range may also vary in size and shape in accordance with the age and gender of the individual skink (Fitch 1956). Five-lined skinks seek cover in rotting wood, rock crevices, vegetation or sawdust piles, or building foundations, remaining inactive during cold winter months (Harding 1997).

Physical Description

Adult five-lined skinks, 12.7 to 21.6 cm in length, are characterized by five yellow to cream colored stripes of equal width running dorsally and laterally from the snout to tail. These stripes, separated by darker lines, may lighten with age, eventually disappearing in older males. The typical black background color of juveniles and young adult females also fades with maturation to a brown, gray, or olive hue in adults (Harding 1997). The body is slender and elongate lacking a distinct neck or narrowing before the wedge-shaped head. The small limbs are pentadactyl with well developed toes and claws. Hatchlings, 5 to 6.4 cm in length, possess bright blue tails and distinct white or yellow stripes on a black background. Tail color dulls with age, and is more commonly retained in females than males, which display gray tails as adults (Fitch 1956). Although no sexual difference in body length is apparent, clear sexual dimorphism of head size and coloration exists among five-lines skinks (Vitt and Cooper 1986). In males the development of a widened head and reddish orange coloration of the snout and jaws intensifies during the spring breeding season (Harding 1997). (Harding, 1997 Vitt and Cooper., 1986)

  • Other Physical Features
  • heterothermic
  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes shaped differently
  • Range length 12.7 to 21.6 cm 5.00 to 8.50 in

Development

The egg incubation length varies with temperature, so that colder temperatures lead to longer times to hatching.

Reproduction

Fertilization in five-lined skinks is internal, with eggs laid by the female between the middle of may and july, at least one month after mating. Females lay fifteen to eighteen eggs in a small cavity cleared beneath a rotting log, stump, board, loose bark, a rock, or an abandoned rodent burrow (Harding 1997). Females prefer secluded nest sites in large, moderately decayed logs. Soil moisture is also an important factor in nest selection. Females often place nests in regions where soil moisture is higher than in adjacent areas. Vertical position of the nest also varies with moisture, with nests located deeper in a soil cavity at dry sites. Even when nesting sites are not limited, a significant amount of aggregation occurs (Hecnar 1994). The parchmentlike eggs of five-lined skinks, similar to many other reptiles, are thin and easily punctured. Freshly laid eggs range from spherical to oval in shape averaging 1.3 cm in length. Absorption of water from the soil leads to increased egg size. Egg coloration also changes over time, from white to mottled tan, after contact with the nest burrow. The incubation period ranges from 24 to 55 days, and varies due to fluctuations in temperature (Fitch 1956). Females typically brood their eggs during this time, exhibiting defensive behavior against smaller predators. Parental care ends a day or two after hatching when hatchlings leave the nest. Young five-lined skinks, with a potential life span of up to six years, attain sexual maturity and begin reproducing within two to three years of hatching (Harding 1997). (Fitch, 1956 Harding, 1997 Hecnar, 1994)

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • iteroparous
  • seasonal breeding
  • sexual
  • fertilization
  • oviparous
  • Breeding interval Five-lined skinks breed once each year.
  • Breeding season Female skinks lay eggs between May and July .
  • Range number of offspring 15 to 18
  • Range gestation period 55 (high) days

Females typically brood their eggs during incubation, defending them against small predators. Females place their bodies around or over their eggs, depending on soil moisture. Females try to cover the eggs more when the soil is dry, to reduce water loss from the eggs. They will also urinate on the eggs to maintain their moisture. Females keep their eggs warm by basking in the sun, then returning to the nest to warm the eggs with their body heat. Females form communal nests where they may share in the care of eggs, alternating between foraging and guarding eggs so that eggs remain protected all of the time. Any eggs displaced from the nest are retrieved by head or snout rolling, and rotten eggs are eaten. Parental care ends a day or two after hatching, when hatchlings leave the nest.

Lifespan/Longevity

Five-lined Skinks can live up to 6 years in the wild, although most probably die as young skinks, before reaching maturity.

Behavior

Adult male five-lined skinks exhibit complex courtship and aggressive behavior. Although males tolerate juveniles and females in their territories, they actively defend these areas against other males. Vomeronasal analysis of chemical cues and recognition of sex specific visual stimuli, including tail and body coloration, aid in the identification of gender (Harding 1997). Evidence suggests that males may rely more on contact phermones than volatile airborne molecules in the identification of conspecifics (Cooper and Vitt 1985). Courting males grasp the necks of receptive females in their jaws after approaching them from the side. Using the tail to align cloacal openings, males initiate copulation by inserting one of the two hemipenes into the female's cloaca. Copulation events typically last four to eight minutes (Harding 1997).

Female five-lined skinks demonstrate high levels of parental care which reduces of egg mortality. Females exhibit several brooding positions of variant contact levels with the body placed beside, over, through, or in a coil around the eggs. Brooding position varies according to soil moisture. Maternal body contact increases at lower moisture levels potentially reducing transpirational loss of the eggs. In communal nests, females may alternate foraging and guarding of the nests, leaving eggs protected at all times (Hecnar 1994). Females may also urinate in the nests and turn eggs to maintain humidity. In addition, females transfer heat from basking through body contact. Any eggs displaced from the nest are retrieved by head or snout rolling, and rotten eggs are eaten (Harding 1997).

Five-lined skinks also exhibit antipredation behavior. In evasion of various predators including snakes, crows, hawks, shrews, moles, opossums, skunks, raccoons, and domestic cats, skinks may disconnect their entire tail or a small segment. Skinks run to shelter to escape their distracted predators as the disconnected tail continues to twitch. Skinks may also utilize biting as a defensive strategy (Harding 1997).

Communication and Perception

Five-lined Skinks use their vision and their ability to detect chemicals (pheromones) to determine the sex of other skinks.

Food Habits

Five-lined skinks are generally insectivorous, feeding on spiders, millipedes, crickets, termites, grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, and beetle larvae. They may also consume snails, as well as small vertebrates including frogs, smaller lizards, and newborn mice (Harding 1997).

Predation

Five-lined skinks are preyed on by large birds, such as American crows, northern shrikes, American kestrels, or sharp-shinned hawks. They are also preyed on by foxes, raccoons, opossums, skunks, shrews, moles, domestic cats, and snakes. Five-lined skinks are quick to escape and take refuge in crevices. If confronted with a predator, skinks may disconnect their entire tail or a small segment. The tail is often brightly colored and twitches, this distracts the predator long enough for the skink to run away. They re-grow their tails over time. Skinks also bite at their attackers.

  • Known Predators
    • American crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
    • northern shrikes (Lanius excubitor)
    • American kestrels (Falco sparverius)
    • sharp-shinned hawks (Accipiter striatus)
    • snakes ( Serpentes )
    • raccoons (Procyon lotor)
    • red foxes (Vulpes vulpes)
    • Virginia opossums (Didelphis virginiana)
    • striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis)
    • shrews (Soricidae)
    • moles (Talpidae)
    • domestic cats (Felis silvestris)

    Ecosystem Roles

    Five-lined Skinks act as a food source for their predators and help to control insect and other invertebrate populations.

    Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

    Where populations are abundant, five-lined skinks may aid in controlling insect pests (Harding 1997).

    Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

    Five-lined skinks are hosts and carriers of the common chigger, a species that regularly attacks humans (Fitch 1956).

    Conservation Status

    Distribution of the five-lined skink is often patchy and colonial, with small isolated populations in parts of its range. Habitat destruction in these regions could lead to local extinctions of the species (Harding 1997).

    • IUCN Red List Least Concern
      More information
    • IUCN Red List Least Concern
      More information
    • US Federal List No special status
    • CITES No special status
    • State of Michigan List No special status

    Contributors

    Elizabeth Vanwormer (author), Michigan State University, James Harding (editor), Michigan State University.

    Glossary

    living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

    an animal that mainly eats meat

    parental care is carried out by females

    union of egg and spermatozoan

    forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

    having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.

    offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

    having the capacity to move from one place to another.

    the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

    reproduction in which eggs are released by the female development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

    having more than one female as a mate at one time

    breeding is confined to a particular season

    reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

    that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

    defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement

    young are relatively well-developed when born

    References

    Cooper, W., L. Vitt.. 1985. Responses of skinks, E. fasciatus and E. laticeps to airborne conspecific odors: further appraisal. Journal of Herpetology , 19: 481-486.

    Fitch, H. 1956. Life history and ecology of the five-lined skink, Eumeces fasciatus. Pp. 1-156 in E Hall, A Leonard, R Wilson, eds. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Publications volume 8 . Topeka, Kansas: University of Kansas.

    Harding, J. 1997. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region . Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press.

    Hecnar, S. 1994. Nest distribution, site selection, and brooding in the five-lined skink (Eumeces Fasciatus). Canadian Journal of Zoology , 72: 1510-1516.


    Evolution in Action: Lizards Losing Limbs

    Some slender Australian lizards called skinks have gone from being five-fingered to legless (like most snakes) in just 3.6 million years, a new study finds. That's a blink of an eye in geologic time.

    For comparison, if a 1,000-sheet roll of toilet paper represented all of Earth's geologic history, it is only on the last square of paper that bipedal ancestors of Homo sapiens showed up — about 4.5 million years ago, said Penn State geologist Robert Giegengack, who was not involved in the study.

    There are 75 species of these fast-evolving skinks called Lerista. These skinks have been crawling and slithering around Earth for about 13.4 million years, and even today, some have five fingers, some have four and some have none, or tiny stubs for legs. So researchers from the University of Adelaide used genetic sequences to arrive at a new family tree for the skinks that showed when and how fast they had lost their fingers or entire legs throughout their evolution.

    "At the highest rate, complete loss of limbs from a pentadactyl [five-fingered] condition is estimated to have occurred within 3.6 million years," said researcher Adam Skinner of the University of Adelaide, adding that compared to similarly dramatic evolutionary changes in other animals, this is blisteringly fast.

    The analysis, detailed in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology and funded by the Hermon Slade Foundation, suggests that the skinks&rsquo way of life might have driven the dramatic and rapid changes in their body shapes.

    "It is believed that skinks are losing their limbs because they spend most of their lives swimming through sand or soil limbs are not only unnecessary for this, but may actually be a hindrance," said Skinner, who headed up the study.

    Skinner and his colleagues found that the evolution of a snake-like body form in Lerista skinks has occurred not only repeatedly but without any evidence of reversals (that is, fingers or limbs being added back).

    Limb reduction via evolution has occurred many times during the history of life on Earth, in mammals, birds, amphibians, snakes and lizards. Lizards and snakes are the model cases for study of this biological phenomenon. About 53 lineages of lizards and snakes are known to have lost one or more bones of their limbs throughout their evolution, Skinner said.


    Choosing Your Blue-Tongued Skink

    Try to get your skink from a reputable breeder, who will have the animal's health history available. Your lizard should have clear eyes and skin that is free of blemishes or dry patches (which may indicate a skin condition). If you can watch the animal eat before purchasing, you'll be able to tell if it has a healthy appetite.

    A lizard that is limping, has any visible deformities or shows signs of an incomplete shed is probably one with health issues and should be avoided.


    Wine, Spanish Fly, and Thou

    Alcohol is one of the only things known for ages as an aphrodisiac that has any real effect on sexual desire. A little alcohol can dissolve inhibitions and put you in the mood, but overindulgence is said to have the opposite effect on performance, now as in Shakespeare's time. ("It increases the desire but it takes away the performance" comes from Macbeth.)

    Coffee is another old one, and it's still sometimes considered an aphrodisiac. "Every time you have an excitation, you have an effect of disinhibition," says Paola Sandroni, MD, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic. She reviewed the scientific evidence that exists on many supposed aphrodisiacs, and published her findings in the journal Clinical Autonomic Research.

    But to call coffee or anything that contains caffeine an aphrodisiac would be misleading. "I think the effect is much more general," she says. In the same way, cocaine and amphetamines may seem to be aphrodisiacs because they stimulate the central nervous system, but they have no specific effects on sexual desire

    Sandroni also looked at studies on ambergris, which comes from the guts of whales and is used in perfumes. Some consider ambergris an aphrodisiac and there is evidence to support this notion. In animal studies, it increased levels of testosterone in the blood, which is essential to the male sex drive, and is thought to play a part in women's libido as well.

    Continued

    Next to oysters, the most well known aphrodisiac is the fabled "Spanish fly." It's not just a legend. Such a thing does exist. Its active ingredient is the chemical cantharidin, which is found in blister beetles. Cantharidin irritates genital membranes, and so it is believed to be arousing. It's also deadly, causing kidney malfunction or gastrointestinal hemorrhages in people who ingest too much. A quick Internet search is all it takes to find some for sale. Sandroni says she was "horrified" to see how easy it is to buy.

    Then there's the "herbal Viagra" pitched in spam emails. This is yohimbe bark. Some claim, falsely, that arginine, an amino acid in yohimbe, can restore erectile function and act as an aphrodisiac. "The only saving grace there is that arginine in large quantity is not harmful," says Cynthia Finley, a dietician at Johns Hopkins University.

    The Roman poet Ovid wrote in The Art of Love, after giving a litany of aphrodisiacs, "Prescribe no more my muse, nor medicines give / Beauty and youth need no provocative." Similarly, Finley says she thinks the only true aphrodisiac is good health achieved by a balanced diet -- which isn't all that different from what St. Thomas Aquinas said 800 years ago.

    Sources

    SOURCES: Paola Sandroni, MD, Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic • Cynthia Finley, RD, Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center • Clinical Autonomic Research, 2001 • The Cambridge World History of Food.


    Skink SP-606 - History

    NATURAL HISTORY

    FLORIDA KEYS MOLE SKINK > Eumeces egregius egregius
    FAMILY: Scincidae

    DESCRIPTION: The Florida Keys mole skink is a small, shiny lizard that can grow to 5 inches long. Its body is a brownish color covered in tiny, smooth scales, while its tail has a reddish-pink tint. Two or more lighter colored lines extend from the mole skink's head down its body, occasionally all the way to the tail. Florida Keys mole skinks have small legs, and each of their feet has five toes. Breeding males develop orange to reddish sides.

    HABITAT: The Florida Keys mole skink is a secretive creature, so not much is known about its habitat. It prefers sandy areas, living under rocks, leaves, debris and washed-up beach vegetation called tidal wrack, which generally consists of dead seaweed and marsh grass.

    RANGE: This mole skink lives in Florida, found mainly in Dry Tortugas and the Lower Keys along the shoreline in sandy areas. It may also occur in Upper and Middle Keys and in Key West, Middle Torch Key, Key Vaca, Stork Island, Big Pine Key, Grassy Key, Upper Matecumbe and Saddlebunch. It is the southernmost of mole skink subspecies.

    MIGRATION: This animal is nonmigratory.

    BREEDING: Little is known about the breeding habits of the Florida Keys mole skink. Females utilize an underground nest where they lay 3 to 5 eggs between April and June. Females stay with the eggs until they hatch, between 31-51 days after being laid.

    LIFE CYCLE: Mole skinks reach maturity at one year, but the full life span of this skink is not scientifically known.

    FEEDING: Florida Keys mole skinks primarily consume small arthropods such as roaches, spiders and crickets.

    THREATS: This skink is threatened by sea-level rise due to flooding that destroys its habitat, habitat destruction as a result of development along the shoreline of the Florida Keys and overcollection.

    POPULATION TREND: The population of the Florida Keys mole skink is declining.


    DEEP is excited to be getting back to our new normal consistent with the direction of Governor Lamont and as a result of the rapidly improving COVID-19 situation in Connecticut. Starting no later than June 1, all customer facing services will resume normal business operations. For detailed information for what this means at DEEP and for the public we serve, visit our "New Normal" website: DEEP New Normal Information

    Common Five-lined Skink

    Plestiodon fasciatus

    State Threatened Species

    Background: The state-threatened common five-lined skink is the only lizard native to Connecticut. Skink populations are found in four widely separated areas in western Connecticut. Five-lined skinks have been documented on bluffs bordering the Housatonic River in southwestern Litchfield County on ledges bordering the Housatonic River in northwestern New Haven County and the Naugatuck River and along ledges in southwestern Hartford County.

    The five-lined skink is rare and localized in southwestern New England. The small size and fragmented nature of skink populations leaves them vulnerable to ecological catastrophes.

    Range: The range of the five-lined skink corresponds closely with the eastern deciduous forest. The species is found in southwestern New England (currently Vermont and Connecticut and historically in Massachusetts), south to northern Florida, west to Wisconsin, and in eastern parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Disjunct populations exist in northeastern Iowa, western Wisconsin, and Minnesota. This species is at its northeastern range limit in southwestern New England however, several populations are found in Ontario, Canada.

    Description: Five-lined skinks are smooth, shiny lizards with rows of tiny scales around the center of the body. They measure in length from 5 to 8.5 inches long, including the tail. The coloration is variable, depending on the age and sex of the skink. Young skinks have 5 white or yellowish stripes on a blackish body and a bright blue tail. As the skinks grow older and larger, the pattern becomes less conspicuous the stripes darken, the body lightens, and the tail turns gray. Females usually retain some of the striped pattern the broad dark band along the side of the body remains prominent. Adult males usually show traces of stripes, but tend to become nearly uniform brown or olive in coloration. Males are territorial during the breeding season, and develop orange-red coloration on the head and jaws as a display of aggression.

    Habitat and Diet: The preferred habitat of the five-lined skink includes steep, rocky areas with open ledge, patchy tree and shrub cover, and an abundance of rotten logs and loose rock slabs. These habitats are usually adjacent to moist deciduous forests.

    Skinks are active foragers that feed on insects (crickets, flies, grasshoppers, grubs, beetles, ants) and spiders.

    Life History: In Connecticut, courtship and mating take place during April or May. About 6 weeks later, in June or July, the female digs a small nest cavity in leaf litter, a rotting log, or loose soil and deposits between 4 to 20 eggs (typically 9 to 12). There is no covering on the nest, but the female guards the eggs during the month-long incubation period. The eggs increase in size during incubation. The eggs hatch during August and September. One to 2 days after the eggs hatch, the female leaves the young on their own and does not return.

    Interesting Facts: Although five-lined skinks spend much of their time under rocks and other shelter, they will bask in sunny spots on logs or rocks. Rock climbers at several sites in Connecticut often see them running along cliffs. The lizards are primarily terrestrial, but will climb dead trees to find insects.

    Skinks hibernate singly or in small groups from October through mid-March in decaying logs, under large rocks, or underground, below the frost line.

    The five-lined skink is the only lizard found in New England, even though there are about 5,000 different species of lizards worldwide. Lizards are reptiles, and although at first glance they might look similar to salamanders, which are amphibians, they are very different animals. Lizards generally have scales that cover their bodies, claws on their feet, and external ear openings. Salamanders have smooth and moist skin, no claws, and no external ear openings.

    When grasped by a predator, both adult and juvenile skinks will readily lose most of their tails. There are cleavage points along the tail vertebrae that facilitate the breakage, much like perforations on a piece of paper that make tearing the paper easier. The detached tail thrashes on the ground to distract the predator, generally allowing the lizard to escape. The five-lined skink will grow a new tail that is somewhat shorter than the original and somewhat gray in coloration.

    The five-lined skink may live up to 6 years of age.

    What You Can Do: If you ever find a skink in the wild, observe it from a distance and leave it alone. Report any possible sightings of these lizards in Connecticut to the DEEP Wildlife Division at [email protected] or call 860-424-3011.

    Wild skinks should NOT be kept as pets. Those sold in pet stores should NOT be released to the wild as they can introduce diseases to wild and genetically distinct populations.

    The production of this Endangered and Threatened Species Fact Sheet Series is made possible by donations to the Endangered Species/Wildlife Income Tax Checkoff Fund.
    (rev. 8/14)

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