Friday, May 23, 2008

Five-lined Skink

Love is still in the air in the Francis Beidler least in the reptile world. As we've previously noted, identification of skinks can be difficult if you don't have the lizard in hand. The images clearly show the five lines that give the Five-lined Skink (Eumeces fasciatus) and the Southeastern Five-lined Skink (Eumeces inexpectatus) their names. However, without checking the size of the scales under the tail, we cannot tell which species is shown.

No matter the species, the images show a female with a beetle and a male with his orange, breeding-season head. The female is focused on eating the beetle, while the male is focusing on the female. He followed her all around the boardwalk handrail as she ate. Mating occurs during April-May. The female will lay 6-15 eggs in leaf debris, rotten logs, or sawdust and will stay with the eggs until they hatch in June-August. As the image shows, arthorpods are the main prey item of these lizards (note the ant trying to get its share).

Images by Mark Musselman

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