Five-lined Skink

Everyone was out catching the sun rays this week, including one of our most common lizards, the Five-lined Skink.

Five-lined skink

But we have to ask, how ofter do our human readers see these reptiles? Not as often as  snakes, we hazard a guess. Even we squirrels don’t see them too often, but that might be because we spend so much time above ground scampering from tree limb, to deck railing to fence. It’s far safer! Though they can climb, skinks spend most of their time close to the ground, filling themselves on insects–beetles, crickets and grasshoppers–plus other ground critters like snails,  slugs, earthworms and spiders.

Bet a lot of you homeowners just decided a skink might be a bit of wildlife you’d like to have around protecting your garden!

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One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Lots of wild animals try to stay hidden from view.

Mystery #130

Have you seen one of these fellows lately? If you know what he is, give us a shout in the comments. Be back later to give you an answer.

By the way, this is my 130th nature’s mystery post, a column I –Hickory Squirrel–started back in April 2012!

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If you look really close you can see small scales on this animal’s back, making it a reptile. It’s in the lizard family, one called a Broad-headed Skink. It’s one of the largest, growing to a foot long if you include the tail, five and a half inches if the skink has lost his tail–which can happen if something grabs onto it! They eat mainly insects like crickets, beetles, grasshoppers and caterpillars, but will also catch smaller reptiles and rodents with their small teeth. In fact, the genus name, Plestiodon, comes form the Greek words Pleistos meaning most and odontos meaning teeth. ‘Toothy skink’–heh, good name, right?

Oh, the Camouflage!

Hidden animal

Can you see this hidden animal?  We’ll give you a…well not a minute, because that’s up to you, but at least a space before we reveal…

Eastern Fence Lizard

A lizard. This little treat comes courtesy of a reader out west of us in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Luray, Virginia. Apparently Eastern Fence Lizards are common out there in the hills along the Shenandoah River. So while we don’t seem to have them in our Reston suburbs, we appreciate a look.