Five-lined skinks

Anytime I am weeding, cultivating, or mulching I frequently come across a five-lined skink, a common lizard in our area. They are also called blue-tailed skinks for the bright blue tail sported by juveniles (shown below). As they grow and age, the pattern becomes less conspicuous; the stripes darken, the body lightens, and the tail turns gray. This skink grows to anywhere from 5 to 8-1/2 inches in length.

Active foragers that feed on crickets, flies, grasshoppers, grubs, beetles, snails, ants and spiders, skinks keep garden pests under control and help to maintain a healthy ecological balance. We frequently find them in our compost pile where they are welcome to anything they can find to eat — a fair exchange for all the garden pests they consume.

Skinks prefer moist, partially-wooded habitat that provides ample cover, as well as open areas to bask in the sun. The female lays eggs between the middle of May and July in a small cavity in leaf litter or beneath a rotting log, stump, board, loose bark, rock, or in an abandoned rodent burrow.

A fascinating fact about skinks (and some other lizards) is their ability to evade predators including snakes, crows, hawks, shrews, moles, opossums, skunks, raccoons and domestic cats by losing all or a portion of their tail when grabbed. Skinks are usually able to escape their predators that are distracted as the wriggling tail continues to twitch.

Offering a diversity of habitat enables us to attract many different kinds of wildlife, and skinks are always welcome!

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