Common Five-Lined Skink (J. Pickering, 2014)

Ontario’s only lizard can be found basking in the sun on logs and rocks across dunes, forests or open meadows. These lizards are quick! This blue-tailed reptile is commonly mistaken for their much slower moving friend, the blue-spotted salamander which is actually an amphibian and not a reptile. The skink is covered in scales and is not slimy but actually quite smooth and can grow up to 20cm long. The stripes and blue tail are picturesque of what a skink may look like but these are just juvenile skinks. In fact, as the skinks get older they lose the blue colouration of the tail and may be a grey to grey brown colour. A skink’s tail is blue because it gets the attention of a predator. It is a great trick because if a predator strikes at the tail the skink can drop it and dart off to safety. No need to worry about our little friend though. The tail will grow back soon after it has been dropped at a rate of about 6mm a week.

The Carolinian populations in Canada are endangered while the more northern populations are of special concern. The greatest harm to these speedy animals that they can’t out run is habitat loss. The destruction of Carolinian forests has lowered the areas for habitat dramatically. There are only four to five isolated populations in the Carolinian zone! Along with development and destruction of Carolinian forests, road mortality is another major threat the common five-lined skink is facing.

Now that you know a little bit about the common five-lined skink you can maybe catch a glimpse of one scurrying away under a log or boardwalk!

– J. Pickering (2014)

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