Description: 5 - 8.5 in (12.5 - 21.5
cm). Five-lined skinks are moderately large lizards with short legs and a streamlined
body. The body is generally gray, brown, or black, in background color with five
white or yellowish stripes (two on each side and one down the center of the back).
Young have a bright blue tail while adult males often loose their stripes and
develop reddish or orange coloration on the head. This species is very similar
in appearance to the southeastern five-lined skink and broadhead skink and is
usually only identifiable by close examination of the scales: five-lined skinks
have an enlarged row of scales under the tail and four labial (along the upper
lip between the nose and eye) scales. Additionally, the broadhead skink usually
larger and the southeastern five-lined skink usually inhabits dry, sandy habitats.
and Habitat: Five-lined skinks range throughout Georgia and South Carolina
and are equally at home on the ground and in trees. Five-lined skinks may be found
in almost any habitat, but are most common in wooded areas with an abundance of
fallen trees and stumps to hide in. Five-lined skinks prefer moister habitats
that the similar southeastern five-lined skink, and are particularly common in
bottomland forests and along wooded river margins.
skinks may be found on the ground or in trees, but are generally less arboreal
(tree dwelling) than broadhead skinks. Although sometimes seen in the open, these
lizards are most often found beneath logs or under tree bark. When pursued, five-lined
skinks generally run for the nearest tree or log and can be quite difficult to
capture. Like many other lizards, five-lined skinks will break off their tails
when restrained, distracting the predator and allowing the lizard to escape.
Five-lined skinks prey on a wide variety of insects, spiders, and other invertebrates.
Female five-lined skinks lay clutches of several eggs in moist soil or rotten
logs during the summer and attend the eggs until they hatch about 60 days later.
Five-lined skinks are common in most areas of Georgia and South Carolina, but
are most abundant in the Piedmont. This species is notably absent from many coastal
areas and barrier islands.
Notes: The blue-tailed young of five-lined,
southeastern five-lined, and broadhead skinks are widely referred to as "scorpions"
and are believed to have a venomous sting. While this belief is completely false,
some scientists speculate that these skinks are bad-tasting to many predators.