Animals

17 Striped Skink Facts You’ll Never Forget

Striped skink facts: the five-lined skinks have prominent stripes on their black scales on their body and a bright blue tail attached to it
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The five-lined skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) is a striped skink from North America and a species of lizard in the family of Scincidae. These lizards with blue tails are one of the most common reptiles in the US. The five-lined skink is also one of the seven native species of lizards in Canada. Five-lined skinks are moderately are sized with a streamlined body and short legs. These skinks were earlier classified under the genus Eumecus and were known as five-lined skink (Eumeces fasciatus). The genus was later categorized again.

The breeding season of the five-lined skink starts a month earlier than May and July, which is the common mating period for the skinks. The juveniles usually have bright colors and stripes but the colors start fading when they reach sexual maturity. These changes have been noticed in many striped skinks like the five-lined skink (P. fasciatus) and the broad-headed skink (P. laticeps). These two species have been found commonly in the natural history in the New World and have been the best specimens to study. The African striped skink (Trachylepis striata) is commonly found in Eastern and the South part of Africa. They have two yellowish stripes running through their backs. The Southeastern five-lined skinks are one other type of striped skink

Skinks constitute the largest family of lizard species with around 1,600 species discovered all over the world. Read some fun facts about the blue tongue skink and the crocodile skink only on the Kidadl website.

Striped Skink

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Insects

What do they eat?

Carnivore

Average litter size?

15-18

How much do they weigh?

N/A

How long are they?

5-8.5 in (12.5-21.5 cm) t

How tall are they?

N/A

What do they look like?

Brown, Stripes, Blue Tail

Skin Type

Dry Scales

What are their main threats?

Habitat Loss

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Moist, Partially Wooded Habitats, Wooded River Margins; Inside Walls, Trees Logs

Locations

North America, Africa

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Reptilia

Scientific Name

Plestiodon fasciatus

Family

Scincidae

Genus

Plestiodon

Striped Skink Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a striped skink?

The five-lined skinks are a species of striped skinks.

What class of animal does a striped skink belong to?

Five-lined skinks fall under the class of Reptilia in the kingdom of Animalia. They were earlier classified as the American five-lined skink (Eumeces fasciatus), but the genus was later changed to Plestiodon.

How many striped skinks are there in the world?

There are over 1,600 species of skinks found in many regions all over the world. The population of these reptiles is unknown but there are fewer than 150 species of striped skinks recorded in the wild. They are found commonly and the populations of these species have been quite stable in the regions scattered all over the planet. They can easily be spotted in rocks of forest openings.

Where does a striped skink live?

The home of the five-lined skink extends south from the lower peninsula of Michigan, Ontario, and eastern New York. Their habitat then extends to northern Florida, west of Wisconsin, Missouri, the upper peninsula of Michigan, and the eastern parts of Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. These reptiles found mostly on the ground are also found in Iowa and Minnesota sometimes.

The African striped skink, as the name suggests, is found in the East and South of the African continent.

The broad-headed skink is endemic to the southeastern United States.

What is a striped skink's habitat?

The five-lined skinks, or any striped skinks, are found to have a range of habitats. They are most common in wooded areas with lots of fallen trees and stumps. These areas are perfect places for the skinks to hide from predators. The habitats of the five-lined skinks range from moist habitats, bottomland forests, and wooded river margins. They need areas that provide proper cover and abundant basking sites. These sites include a range of different places like wood piles, logs, rocky outcrops, and abandoned buildings. They are also seen in forest edges, cleared areas, or burned regions. The range of their habitat changes with the age and sex of the skinks. They remain inactive during cold winter months, hiding from predators in rotten wood and crevices.

Who do striped skinks live with?

Striped skinks are usually a calm and non-aggressive species that live peacefully in the wild. Males of the species are territorial and act aggressively when other males try to encroach on their territory on the ground. They are, however, fine to live with the female species and the young.

How long does a striped skink live?

It has been observed that young skinks often die before they reach the age of sexual maturity. Usually, the striped skinks are known to live to the age of six years in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

The fertilization in the species is internal and the breeding season of these reptiles starts from a month before May and July. Mating is completed before the start of the month. The skinks lay eggs in the middle of these months. These nests are usually rotten logs, stumps, rocks, or moist soil. A clutch of 15-18 eggs is laid by the female in the secluded nest sites. The moisture in the soil also plays a key part in the nests of the species. The females usually place the nest in regions where the soil moisture content is higher. The nest is located deep in soil cavities at dry places. The eggs are shaped thin and are easily punctured. Eggs look similar to most reptiles. The eggs change color over time after contact with the nest burrow. The eggs show the coloration of white to mottled tan. The incubation period of the eggs ranges from 24-55 days. The hatching of the eggs depends on the season. Cold weather makes the hatching of the eggs take longer. Females brood the eggs during this time and scare off smaller reptiles. Females place their bodies around the eggs to prevent water loss and contain moisture within. Sometimes the females are known to urinate on the eggs to maintain the moisture. The females bask in the sun and warm the eggs with their body heat by returning to the nest. The females also form communal nests where different females care for the eggs round the clock. Any rotten eggs are eaten.

After the hatching of the eggs, the parental care for the young ends after one or two days. The reproduction of the young begins after two or three years when they will start mating and continue to do so for the rest of their life.

What is their conservation status?

The populations of the species in most regions all over the world are stable. There are a few states in the US where they are considered as a protected species because of the depleating populations of the skinks in those regions. Other than that, the IUCN Red List has categorized these species as of Least Concern.

Striped Skink Fun Facts

What do striped skinks look like?

This is a picture of a male striped skink who has lost his tail.

Skinks usually have a streamlined body with a long tail. As the name of the species, five-lined skinks, suggests these reptiles have five prominent stripes on a black body with scales, going from the back to the tail. The lines are of equal width and length and are colored yellow to cream and are separated by darker lines. These darker lines usually are faded on the adult males, and disappear as the males get older. The black upper body of the females and the juveniles also fades with maturity and turns into a brown, gray, or olive hue in the adult species. The adult and the juveniles have a slender, streamlined body with a wedge-shaped head. Hatchlings have a bright blue tail. As they mature, females mostly retain the colors that fade in the males. Males have gray tails once they mature. Differences in the head size and the colors of the body remain in males and females.

The Southeastern five-lined skink has a gray, brown, or black upper-body color with five white or yellowish stripes. The lines are one at the center and two each on the sides on the back.

The juveniles and females of the broad-headed skinks have vibrant blue tails and up to seven lines of yellow/orange color on a black background. When the males mature, they become brown colored and have an orange head.

How cute are they?

The vibrant colors and lines on the bodies make this species very beautiful.

How do they communicate?

Pheromones and vision are used to detect other species and communicate.

How big is a striped skink?

The length of the five-striped stinks, and most of the species of the striped skinks, ranges from 5-8.5 in (12.5-21.5 cm). This length is usually measured from the snout to the tail in these terrestrial reptiles.

African striped skinks grow up to a length of 9.8 in including the tail. The range is usually from 6-9.8 in.

How fast can a striped skink move?

They move pretty quickly when threatened.

Blue-tongue skinks are known to run at a speed of 65 mph!

How much does a striped skink weigh?

The weight of these species remains undetermined.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male and female sexes are not given different names.

What would you call a baby striped skink?

Young striped skinks are called juveniles or hatchings.

What do they eat?

Skinks are known to thrive on spiders, millipedes, crickets, termites, grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, and beetle larvae. They also feed on snails, frogs, and mice.

Are they poisonous?

Five-lined skinks are usually non-venomous and pretty harmless. All skinks are essentially not poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

Five-lined skinks are perfect pets. However, taking care of all their needs, including housing and food, can be tough and needs a bit of research on the species.

Did you know...

The lifespan of striped skinks is very short at just six years in the wild.

The blue-tailed reptile cuts off the whole length of its tail if threatened. This is done to distract predators.

They are not poisonous to touch.

They bite if mishandled but cannot kill you.

The most dangerous predator for the five-lined skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) is the northern shrike. Another predator for these lizards also includes a range of other birds like American crows, American kestrels, and sharp-shinned hawks. Although the lizards are quick to escape to crevices, they are also eaten by skunks, domestic cats, moles, snakes, raccoons, and foxes. If the predators attack, all the skinks are known to disconnect their tails or at least part of it. In this case, the five-lined skinks shed the whole bright blue tail when confronted by predators. They are also known to bite. The bright-colored tails act as perfect distractions against the predators and help the skinks run away. The tails grow over time. The length and coloration of the tail confuse the predators.

Are five-lined skinks endangered?

They are not endangered and found commonly in their habitats in North America. In Vermont and Connecticut, they are protected but the IUCN lists them as of Least Concern at the moment.

Is striped skink endemic?

The species of five-lined skink is endemic to North America. The New Zealand striped skink is endemic to New Zealand.

In the US, five-lined skinks are found in Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Minnesota, and New York. They are also found in Ontario, Canada.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles including kingsnake facts or green anole facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable reptiles coloring pages.

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