Photo Credit: Diania Marshall
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Plestiodon faciatus
OTHER NAMES: Scorpion
STATUS: Common and statewide in a variety of mesic habitats. Lowest Conservation Concern.
DESCRIPTION: A smooth, shiny, medium-sized lizard ranging from five to eight inches in length. Breeding males have brown bodies with light stripes and orangish-red heads. Juveniles and females are blackish-brown with yellow-orange stripes down the back, and bright blue tails. As with other skinks, the tail breaks off easily and twitches to distract a potential predator. The tail will grow back although it will be shorter. Tail coloration in females fade as they mature. Since other members of five-lined skink group may be similar in color and pattern to the common five-lined skink, it is necessary to evaluate scale patterns for positive identification.
DISTRIBUTION: The common five-lined skink occurs essentially statewide in Alabama. Its U.S. range extends from southern New England to north Florida, west to eastern Texas and north to Kansas and southern Wisconsin.
HABITAT: The common five-lined skink inhabits damp woodlands, hardwood forests, pine woods, and is also common in gardens, under stumps, rocks, wood piles and trash piles.
FEEDING HABITS: Diet consists of spiders, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, snails, and other insects and their larvae.
LIFE HISTORY AND ECOLOGY: Nesting occurs during the spring and early summer. Female lays four to 14 whitish eggs under cover, such as in rotting logs or stumps, under rocks, and in cavities in sawdust piles. The female attends the nest during incubation to protect it from predators. Young hatch in one to two months and the female assists the young during hatching.
Conant, R. 1958. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern North America. Pp. 98-99. The Riverside Press, Cambridge, MA.
Mount, R. H. 1975. The Reptiles and Amphibians of Alabama.Pp. 165-166. AuburnUniversity Agricultural Experiment Station. Auburn Printing Company, Auburn, AL.
Author: Ericha Nix, Wildlife Biologist, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries