Southeastern Five-Lined Skink

The southeastern five-lined skink lives, as one might expect, all over the southeastern United States. It looks a great deal like the American five-lined skink, Plestiodon fasciatus, but based on geographic range (this individual was found in central Florida) this is more likely the southeastern than the American five-lined skink. The scientific name “inexpectatus“, which means exactly what you think it does, may be referencing the unexpected discovery of this species in 1932. (The American five-lined skink was described almost 175 years earlier.)

Plestiodon inexpectatus, like other members of its genus, feeds primarily on insects, especially larger prey such as grasshoppers. They are diurnal and live mostly on the ground, although, as you can see, they can climb trees. They lay eggs, which the female guards.

When young, this species has a bright blue tail. Older adults (maybe only males?) eventually develop a bright orange head. Like anoles, which drive my identification process up the wall by being almost any color, skinks also have wide individual color variation.

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