Living Sanibel: Say hello to our little friend
The smallest lizard found in southwest Florida and rather uncommon, the ground skink is most likely to be found beneath moist leaves, under logs, or hiding in woodpiles and debris. It feeds during the daytime, but its size and feeding habits make it a rare sighting. The ground skink ranges throughout the Southeast and north to the Ohio River valley.
This somewhat comical lizard has been known to take a bite out of its own tail, mistaking it for a small centipede or insect. Like all skinks, its tail is quick to break off, allowing the animal to escape and leaving the predator with more of a snack than the meal it was originally in pursuit of. The ground skink is a favorite prey for smaller snakes such as the coral and ring-necked.
The home range of this diminutive skink may be as small as 20 square meters, wherein it consumes insects, spiders, and isopods such as woodlice and pill bugs.
Southeastern Five-lined Skink
This relatively common skink is easily identified in its juvenile stage by its bright blue tail. It is the most colorful lizard native to southwest Florida and a true delight to observe when spotted. It is a fairly large lizard, growing close to nine inches long, and closely resembles the broad-headed skink. It likes to sun itself during the heat of the day and can sometimes be observed on pool decks and around other concrete or asphalt surfaces.
It is incredibly agile and quick and nearly impossible to catch without a trap. It is commonly kept as a pet and can live up to 10 years in captivity. Although it will bite when captured, its mouth is too small to inflict serious damage.
The southeastern five-lined skink eats mostly insects but will also take young green and brown anoles. It is eaten by snakes, birds of prey, and small mammals.
This is an excerpt from The Living Gulf Coast – A Nature Guide to Southwest Florida by Charles Sobczak. The book is available at all the Island bookstores, Baileys, Jerry’s and your favorite online sites.