Description: 5 - 8.5 in (12.5 - 21.5
cm). Southeastern 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' stripes
may fade and a reddish or orange coloration may develop on the head. This species
is very similar in appearance to the five-lined skink and broadhead skink and
is usually only identifiable by close examination of the scales: unlike the other
two species, southeastern five-lined skinks do not have an enlarged row of scales
under the tail. Additionally, broadhead skinks are usually larger and five-lined
skink usually inhabit moister habitats.
Range and Habitat: Southeastern
five-lined skinks range throughout South Carolina and all but extreme northern
Georgia. This species may be found on the ground or in trees and is often common
in dry, wooded habitats where there are an abundance of fallen trees and stumps
to hide in. Southeastern five-lined skinks prefer drier habitats that the similar
five-lined skink, and are particularly common in dry pine forests and in coastal
Habits: Southeastern five-lined 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, these lizards generally run for
the nearest tree or log and can be quite difficult to capture. Like many other
lizards, southeastern five-lined skinks will break off their tails when restrained,
distracting the predator and allowing the lizard to escape.
Southeastern five-lined skinks prey on a wide variety of insects, spiders, and
Reproduction: Female southeastern five-lined
skinks lay clutches of several eggs in moist soil or rotten logs during the summer
and attend the eggs until they hatch.
Abundance: Female southeastern
five-lined skinks lay clutches of several eggs in moist soil or rotten logs during
the summer and attend the eggs until they hatch.
Notes: The blue-tailed
young of southeastern five-lined, 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.