Common five-lined skink (Plestiodon fasciatus)

skink, Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia (Lumix TS-3)

Common five-lined skink at Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia
Photograph © Steven David Johnson (All Rights Reserved)
Contact Steven David Johnson for image licensing

skink, Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia (Lumix TS-3)

Common five-lined skink at Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia
Photograph © Steven David Johnson (All Rights Reserved)
Contact Steven David Johnson for image licensing

skink, Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia (Lumix TS-3)

Common five-lined skink at Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia
Photograph © Steven David Johnson (All Rights Reserved)
Contact Steven David Johnson for image licensing

skink habitat, Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia (Lumix TS-3)

Common five-lined skink at Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia
Photograph © Steven David Johnson (All Rights Reserved)
Contact Steven David Johnson for image licensing

skink, Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia

The orange head is an indication of an adult male in breeding season
(Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians – Eastern/Central North America)

skink, Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia

Common five-lined skink at Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia
Photograph © Steven David Johnson (All Rights Reserved)
Contact Steven David Johnson for image licensing

skink, Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia

Common five-lined skink at Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia
Photograph © Steven David Johnson (All Rights Reserved)
Contact Steven David Johnson for image licensing

common five-lined skink diagram, Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia

The common five-lined skink has four labials vs five for broad heads. See comparison graphic at the Virginia Herpetological Society.

Common five-lined skink at Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia
Photograph © Steven David Johnson (All Rights Reserved)
Contact Steven David Johnson for image licensing

skink, Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia

Common five-lined skink at Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia
Photograph © Steven David Johnson (All Rights Reserved)
Contact Steven David Johnson for image licensing

skink (mesmerized), Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia

Common five-lined skink at Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia
Photograph © Steven David Johnson (All Rights Reserved)
Contact Steven David Johnson for image licensing

skink (mesmerized), Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia

Common five-lined skink at Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia
Photograph © Steven David Johnson (All Rights Reserved)
Contact Steven David Johnson for image licensing

skink, Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia

Common five-lined skink at Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia
Photograph © Steven David Johnson (All Rights Reserved)
Contact Steven David Johnson for image licensing


Text from Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Distribution Map

Distribution Map

Characteristics

This is a medium-sized skink that grows to a maximum snout-vent length of 3.4 inches (86 mm) and a maximum total length of 8.5 inches (215 mm). The body scales are smooth, overlapping, and glossy. This skink has five white to cream stripes on a dark brown to brownish-gray background color. The stripes go half-way onto the original tail. Mating occurs in May, 6-12 eggs are laid in June, and hatching occurs 4-6 weeks later. The female guards the nest and turns the eggs daily. No parental care is given after hatching and one or more of the eggs may be eaten while the female broods them. Juveniles are similar to adults but have a bright blue tail, which serves to attract predators’ attention away from the body. The tail breaks off when the skink is attacked, and it continues to wriggle for some time to distract the predator further. This skink will enter water, crawl into crevices, or hide under objects or leaf litter to escape predators.

Distribution

This species is found in all areas of Virginia. It inhabits a variety of habitats in the eastern deciduous and southeastern evergreen forests. It prefers moist habitats and is often found under objects such as logs and boards, or in standing snags. This skink will lay its eggs in decaying logs and stumps. It may be observed near urban and suburban buildings.

Foods

This skink feeds predominantly on spiders, with the specific choice dependent on the size of the lizard and the availability of the prey. Large items such as big spiders, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, harvestmen, and snails are preferred.

More Information

For more information, please visit the Virginia Fish & Wildlife Information Service (direct link to species booklet).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *