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Five-Lined Skink

Five-Lined Skink

Quick Facts

Genus: Plestiodon

Location: Much of the eastern Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic and southeastern parts of the United States.

The Scoop

The Scoop

Drop tail and run

Five-lined Skinks know how to get out of a jam.

Threatened by a predator, this lizard — a long, slithery reptile with four legs and no real neck — can make a quick getaway. First, it will shed all or part of its tail. This remnant, while detached, will keep quivering as the lizard makes a run for it.

The quivering tail often distracts the snake, bird or other predator just enough to save the retreating lizard. (Don’t worry, the tail always grows back!)

If both the tail and the lizard survive the attack, five-lined Skinks are known to return to the appendage — and eat it.

That tail is one of the lizard’s most distinctive features, even without its ability to fall off on command. At birth, the tail is a bright blue that fades with age into a gray, brown or green.

The lizards get their name from the five distinctive stripes along the length of their body. They are varying shades of yellow at birth and lighten with age — typically disappearing in the oldest males.

Five-lined Skinks generally can be found in wooded areas, usually hiding under cover such as logs or rocks. They will bask in the sun during cool weather in an attempt to get warm.

Quick Facts:

  • Adult male five-lined skinks will aggressively defend their territory against other males. Females are not minded.
  • Males develop a bright orange chin during mating season in an attempt to attract females.
  • Five-lined skinks grow to about 5 to 8½ inches long.
  • Since five-lined skinks change color as they get older, the best way to determine age is to examine scale patterns.

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