Description: 5 - 7 in (12.5 - 18 cm). Coal skinks
are mid-sized lizards with short legs and a streamlined body. The body is generally
gray or brown, in background color with four white or yellowish stripes (two on
each side). Although superficially similar to other skinks, the lack of a stripe
down the center of the back easily distinguishes this species, within its restricted
Range and Habitat: Coal skinks are patchily distributed in
the eastern States. Within our region, they are only found in mountainous areas
of northern Georgia and western South Carolina and in a small distinct area of
western Georgia. Within this region, they are found most often in moist forests
and are usually associated with stream margins.
Habits: Coal skinks
are uncommonly encountered and their habits are poorly understood. This species
is most often found along stream edges and often shelters under rocks, logs, or
other cover. When disturbed, coal skinks often dive into water and hide beneath
rocks or other aquatic debris. Like many other lizards, coal skinks will break
off their tails when restrained, distracting the predator and allowing the lizard
Prey: Coal skinks presumably prey on a wide variety of
insects, spiders, and other invertebrates.
Reproduction: Female coal
skinks lay clutches of several eggs in moist soil or rotten logs during the summer
and attend the eggs until they hatch.
Abundance: Coal skinks are
uncommon, even within their restricted range. Research is necessary to determine
the status of this species in Georgia and South Carolina.