Added 31 December 2010. Last updated 9 January 2011: added details for P. gilberti and P. multivirgatus and updated details for P. longirostris.

The Scincidae


Plestiodon contains most North American skinks found in the USA and Canada and several found in Asia, including Japan. Originally these species were all considered part of the Eumeces genus, but molecular and other studies caused them to be reassigned to the genus Plestiodon, created in the early years of the twentieth century. Today Eumeces contains only species found in North African and the Indian subcontinent.

Smith (1946) characterised the old Eumeces genus as follows: conical, pleurodont teeth; scaly eyelids, lacking partially transparent disk; presence of teeth on pterygoid bones; separation of at least the pterygoid and usually the palatine bones also on the median line of the palate, this last characteristic separating Eumeces (as it was then understood) from another old genus Mabuya, of which South American species are still considered valid. All US (and presumably Canadian) species are egg-layers, but a few Mexican species give birth to live young.

The North American part of the old Eumeces genus was normally subdivided into several groups, including:

Partly no doubt due to their prominence in North America, Plestiodon (especially P. fasciatus) species have been the subject of much research: see the Bibliography.

Some authorities place Neoseps reynoldsi in Plestiodon.

Although secretive, these skinks are interesting in their reproductive habits and other ways. Some show themselves equally at home on the ground and in trees. Smith cites an interesting report of how one species of the fasciatus group (species not certainly identified) shakes small wasp nests to free the larvae and pupae, which it then hunts on the ground, ignoring the few attempts to sting it as it appears immune to these because of its tightly overlapping cells. One sometimes has the impression that North American skinks are neglected by local herpetologists and keepers, which is a pity as there is always more to discover about native species, especially ones so secretive.


Plestiodon skinks are known for the female's guardianship of the eggs during their incubation period, during which time she may drive off intruders.

Telling the North American "Five-Lined Skinks" apart

P. fasciatus, P. inexpectatus and P. laticeps are all fairly similar in appearance and are often found in the same area. They can be told apart as follows: fasciatus and laticeps have a middle row of scales under the tail that is wider than those around it (at least in unregenerated tails), whereas in inexpectatus all the scale rows under the tail are the same size; fasciatus has 26-30 longitudinal scale rows at midbody, laticeps 30-32; fasciatus has 2 enlarged postlabial scales, which laticeps lacks; in fasciatus and laticeps the dorsolateral light stripe is found on the 4th or 3rd and 4th scale rows, whereas in inexpectatus it is found on the 5th or 4th and 5th scale rows.

Plestiodon in captivity

Walls gives basic instructions for keeping some of the Plestiodon species in captivity. The eastern species apparently do well in a temperate woodland terrarium. However not all of this genus make suitable captives: see the notes for further details. Information on the captive requirements of Asian species seems hard to come by.

Work on this page is ongoing due to the large number of species and their geographic separation.

P. anthracinus, Coal Skink P. barbouri, Barbour's Eyelid Skink P. brevirostris, Shortnose Skink
P. callicephalus, Mountain Skink P. capito, Gail's Eyelid Skink P. chinensis, Chinese Skink
P. colimensis, Colima Skink P. copei, Cope's Skink P. coreensis, Smith's Skink
P. dugesii, Duge's Skink P. egregius, Mole Skink P. elegans, Shanghai Elegant Skink
P. fasciatus, Five-Lined Skink P. gilberti, Gilbert's Skink P. inexpectatus, Southern Five-Lined Skink
P. kishinouyei, Japanese Skink P. lagunensis, San Lucan Skink P. laticeps, Broadhead Skink
P. latiscudatus, Far Eastern Skink/ Japanese Five-Lined Skink P. liui P. longirostris, Longnose/Bermudan Skink
P. lynxe, Oak Forest Skink P. marginatus, Ousima Skink P. multilineatus, Chihuahuan Skink
P. multivirgatus, Many-Lined Skink P. obsoletus, Great Plains Skink P. obtusirostris, Southern Prairie Skink
P. ochoteranae, Guerreran Skink P. okadae, Okada's Skink P. parviauriculatus, Northern Pygmy Skink
P. parvulus, Southern Pygmy Skink P. popei, Pope's Skink P. quadrilineatus, Hong Kong/Four-Lined Skink
P. septentrionalis, Prairie Skink P. skiltonianus, Western Skink P. stimpsonii, Stimpson's Skink
P. sumichrasti, Sumichrast's Skink P. tamdaoensis, Vietnam Skink P. tetragrammus, Four-Lined Skink
P. tunganus    

Scientific Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes
P. anthracinus Coal Skink USA 5-7" (SVL max 2¾")



Found in humid areas of wooded hillsides and also in the vicinity of streams and rocky bluffs overlooking creek valleys. When fleeing they may dive into shallow water and hide under stones or debris at the bottom. Can be distinguished from P. inexpectatus, laticeps, obsoletus and septentrionalis by its single postmental scale (these other skink species all have two, one behind the other).  Walls notes that this species does not normally do well in captivity. The two subspecies intergrade in certain scattered areas of the SE USA. Scalation: one postmental: see also subspecies. Coloration: light stripes extend onto tail: broad dark lateral stripe about 2½-4 scale rows wide: light dorsolateral stripe is 3-4 scale rows from the middorsal line. Reproduction: Smith noted that in New York courtship and mating took place in late May, a clutch of 8-9 eggs being laid in late June and taking 4-5 weeks to hatch. [SOURCES: Conant and Collins, Smith, Walls] B I
P. a. anthracinus Northern Coal Skink Disjunct range from New York to North Carolina, with isolated colonies in Ohio and W/C Kentucky Scalation details: up to 25 dorsal rows at midbody. Coloration:  a continuous light stripe runs through posterior supralabials. Young have adult patterning but with blue tail.
P. a. pluvialis Southern Coal Skink E Kansas and Missouri to E Texas and NW Louisiana, absent from Mississipi alluvial plain: isolated colonies in Georgia, Florida, C Alabama, N/C Mississipi, SW Kentucky and adj. Tennessee, also large disjunct area in SE Louisiana, S Mississippi and SW Alabama Scalation details: 26 or more dorsal rows at midbody. Coloration:  posterior supralabials have light centres and dark edges. Young are black and unpatterned but often with suggestions of light stripes or whitish labial spots or both; snout and lips may be reddish, tail blue.
P. barbouri Barbour's Eyelid Skink Japan     B I
P. brevirostris Shortnose Skink Mexico (Guerrero, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Puebla, Durango, Jalisco, Michoacán) Max SVL 70-73mm Scalation: 3-4 (usually 4) supraoculars: primary temporal scale very rarely contacts lower secondary temporal: 20-26 longitudinal dorsal scale rows: 50-68 transverse dorsal scale rows: 10-15 subdigital lamellae. Coloration: dorsolateral light lines from middle of neck to hind limb, separated from one another by 3½-4 scale rows at midbody. B I
P. b. brevirostris   Mexico, Morelos, Puebla, Veracruz     Coloration: lateral light line from ear to arm on scale rows 6-7, bordered below by think black line. 
P. b. bilineatus   Chihuahua, Durango     Scalation: Interparietal usually enclosed by parietals: primary temporal present or absent. Coloration: no lateral light line whitish neck scales on rows 5 or 6, grading into light ventral colour: dorsolateral light line may extend to tail and beyond. Longitudinal scale rows 6-9 may have light-centred dark scales. 
P. b. dicei   Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas    Formerly considered separate species, including dicei and pineus as subspecies. Scalation: Interparietal usually not enclosed by parietals: primary temporal usually absent. Coloration: broad lateral dark stripe on 4th scale row of body)
P. b. indubitus   Morelos, Mexico, Jalisco   Scalation: Interparietal usually enclosed by parietals: primary temporal usually present. Coloration: lateral light line of neck consists of series of light-centred, dark scales on scalse rows 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, or any combination of these in sequence: dorsolateral light line usually faint at shoulder and beyond. Longitudinal scale rows 6-9 may have light-centred dark scales.  
P. b. pineus   Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, Tamaulipas   Scalation: Interparietal usually not enclosed by parietals: primary temporal usually absent. Coloration: broad lateral dark stripe on 3rd scale row of body.
P. callicephalus Mountain Skink USA (S Arizona), Mexico (E Sonora, W Chihuahua, Sinaloa, W Durango, Zacatecas, Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Querétaro, Nayarit) SVL 2-2¾"/5-7cm Formerly considered a subspecies of P. tetragrammus. Most abundant in wooded rocky canyons in the northern part of its range, at elevations of 900-1700m: in SW Mexico it is found in mesic foothill forests and tropical deciduous lowlands. Scalation: postlabials usually double, postnasals usually present; postmental divided; prefrontals in contact; parietals enclose interparietal; 2 pairs of nuchals; 7 supralabials, of which 6th & 7th subequal; primary temporal with area as large as last labial; single large postlabial; subcaudals not or only slightly enlarged. Dorsal scalation: rows around body 28-28-30 [Taylor 1936]; transverse scale rows (parietals to anus) 58. Subcaudals: 95 (from one specimen, Taylor 1936) Coloration: dark lateral stripe usually running length of body, light bifurcating head lines and short median light line usually present. In preservative the adult dorsal colour is grey or grey-green. [SOURCE: Taylor 1936]  B I
P. capito Gail's Eyelid Skink N China southwards to Hubei and Sichuan   Originally described as E. pekinensis by Stejneger. Scalation details: 1 postnasal present; lower temporal of 2nd row wedge-shaped; 2 unpaired postmentals; medial dorsal scale-rows not enlarged; 24 scales rows at midbody. Other: soles of hind feet nearly uniformly granular with only a few larger tubercles nearer the heel [SOURCE: Stejneger]. B I
P. chinensis Chinese Skink S China (inc. Hainan and Taiwan), Vietnam     B I
P. c. chinensis S China (inc. Hainan and Hong Kong), Vietnam 13cm SVL, 35cm TL A large robust skink. KLB reported it in 1986 as being common in cultivated areas of the New Territories and on Lantau Island. It is a diurnal species.
P. c. daishanensis China (Zhoushan Islands, Zheijiang)    
P. c. formosensis Taiwan    
P. c. leucostictus Taiwan (Lutao Island, off SE coast)   Zhao and Adler (1993) describe this species as being known only from the type locality. 
P. c. pulcher      
P. colimensis Colima Skink Mexico (Colima)   This species differs from other members of its group by greater development of limbs [Taylor]. Scalation: 1 postmental; no postnasal; frontal contacts interparietal; parietals enclose interparietal; 7 supralabials, of which last is largest and forms suture with upper secondary temporal; lower secondary and tertiary temporals present; 3-4 (usually 4) supraoculars: 26-28 longitudinal dorsal scale rows: 15-17 subdigital lamellae. Other: ear of normal size; limbs strongly overlap when adpressed. Coloration: dorsolateral light line on scale rows 2nd-3rd or 2nd-4th scale rows from middle of neck to hind limb; lateral line distinct in young but dim or obsolete in adult; no median line or bifurcating lines on head. [SOURCE: Taylor 1935] B I
P. copei Cope's Skink Mexico   Moderately large form with small limbs: most of Taylor and Hobart's specimens were obtained from beneath rocks and logs, but one was found in a lava field. Taylor also noted that a variety of insects were observed in stomachs of specimens examined, except for ants.  Scalation: 3-4 (usually 4) supraoculars, of which 3 touch the frontal; 6-7 (sometimes 5) superciliaries; interparietal not enclosed; frontonasal usually touches frontal and always touches 1st loreal; no postnasals; 7 supralabials, of which 6 and 7 are about equally largest, or sometimes just the 7th; 7th labial does not touch upper secondary temporal; primary temporal usually larger than secondary temporal, which is unusual for this genus; 2 (sometimes 2½) pairs of nuchals; single postmental. Dorsal scalation: 22-24 scale rows at midbody, 60-64 transverse rows from occiput to anus. Other: 15-17 scales around ear opening; 12-14 (usually 13, rarely up to 16) subdigital lamellae on 4th toe. Coloration: overall brownish olive to light chocolate; dorsolateral light line (usually restricted to 3rd scale row) from middle of neck to hind limb. Bluish colour on tail is lost fairly early on. Ventrally dirty- to bluish-grey on infralabials, chin, abdomen and underside of limbs and tail, preanals with some brown; bluish-black on soles and palms. [SOURCE: Taylor 1933] B I
P. coreensis Smith's Skink NW Korea (?)     B I
P. dugesii Duges' Skink Mexico (Guanajuato, Michoacán, poss. Jalisco)   Scalation details: 3 supraoculars B I
P. egregius Mole Skink USA (Georgia, Alabama and Florida) 3½-6¼"/9-16cm; SVL 2-2½"/5-6½cm Mole Skinks derive their common name from their burrowing habits, preferring suitable soil for this activity. Walls claims that this species can be difficult to maintain in captivity. See subspecies entries for further details. B I
P. e. egregius Florida Keys Mole Skink USA (Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas) 3½-6"/9-15cm; SVL 2¼"/5½cm Highly secretive species. Habitat frequently includes piles of stone or debris, plus driftwood and tidal wrack on island shores (cf some Oligosoma species). Diet includes roaches, crickets and other insects and spiders, island populations also taking small crustaceans. Scalation details: no postnasals; 3 supraoculars; 1 large upper scale (upper secondary temporal) between last labial and parietal; median dorsal pair of scale rows much larger than adjacent rows; 22 or more scale rows at midbody. Coloration: overall colour a variation of grey- to dark chocolate brown; dorsolateral lines extend full length of body, bordering inwardly on the 2nd scale rows; red or brownish red tail, even in adults; in males a reddish or orange suffusion extends on to the venter during mating season  [SOURCE: Conant and Collins, Smith].
P. e. insularis Cedar Key Mole Sink USA (Cedar and Seahorse Keys in Levy County, Florida) 3½-6¼"/9-16cm; SVL 2-2½"/5-6½cm Scalation details: 21 or fewer scale rows at midbody. Coloration: light dorsolateral stripes inconspicuous; hatchlings almost uniform black. [SOURCE: Conant and Collins].
P. e. lividus Bluetail Mole Skink USA (Lake Wales Ridge of Polk and Highland counties, Florida) 3½-6½"/9-16½cm; SVL 2½"/6cm Rather variant subspecies by virtue of restricted range and bright blue tail of juveniles, other subspecies having red tails in the young. Scalation details: 7 supralabials. Coloration: light dorsolateral stripes which widen posteriorly or diverge to include another scale row, or both; bright blue tail in young, older individuals retaining this colour or having a salmon colour tail. [SOURCE: Conant and Collins]
P. e. onocrepis Peninsula Mole Skink USA (Florida peninsula) 3½-6"/9-15cm; SVL 2¼"/5¾cm Originally considered full species. Scalation details: no postnasals; 3 supraoculars; 1 large upper scale (upper secondary temporal) between last labial and parietal; median dorsal pair of scale rows only slightly larger than adjacent rows. Coloration: dorsolateral lines usually short, but if full length, they border inwardly on the 3rd scale rows.  [SOURCE: Smith] 
P. e. similis Northern Mole Skink USA (N Florida, S Georgia, adj. areas of Alabama) 3½-6"/9-15cm; SVL 2¼"/5½cm Distinguished from otherwise similar P. e. egregius by having 6 supralabials instead of 7. Habitat similar to that of P. e. onocrepis but also uses dry rocky areas. Scalation details: 6 supralabials; 21 or less rows at midbody. Coloration: length of stripes very variable; tail red, orange or reddish-brown. [SOURCE: Conant and Collins]
P. elegans Shanghai Elegant Skink S China (W to Yunnan, N through Sichuan to S Henan), Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan (Senkaku Group in S Ryukyu Islands)     B I
P. fasciatus Five-Lined Skink E USA (New England to N Florida, west to Wisconsin and E Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, isolated colonies in NE Iowa and adj. Wisconsin, Minnesota, single record from NW Wisconsin), SE Canada 5-8½"/12½-21½cm; SVL max 3¼"/8½cm  This species is one that has been kept in captivity fairly regularly, and whose requirements are fairly straightforward to meet. It is usually found in damp habitat, especially in or near woods or where wood in various forms is found, plus rock piles. It is mainly terrestrial but can climb trees, and is more arboreal in Texas. For captive care details see Walls and Rogner. Scalation details: usually 4 supralabials anterior to subocular; 2 enlarged postlabial scales; 26-30 longitudinal rows at midbody; middle row of subcaudal scales wider than the rest. Coloration: variable: hatchlings have 5 white or yellowish stripes on black background, with bright blue tails; pattern fades with age, the stripes darkening and background colour lightening, and tail turning grey; females normally retain some striped pattern, especially broad dark lateral band extending backward from eye; males normally show traces of stripes but become nearly uniform brown or olive; breeding males in season show orange-red on jaws. Reproduction: courting takes place soon after emergence from hibernation. Preliminary behaviour consists of scratching motions of the hind legs or rubbing the cloaca on the ground. Active courting consists of males rushing with open mouth at any lizard of the same species: if the rushed lizard fights back, it is identified as a male and subsequently ignored; rushed lizards that run away or do not fight back are identified, normally correctly, as females. The courting procedure lasts 5-7 minutes, copulation 4-8 minutes [Smith]. Gestation of eggs takes 6-7 weeks and a clutch of 2-18 is laid in a two week period in May-July. They hatch from early July to late August and possibly early September. [SOURCES: Conant and Collins, Smith] B I
P. gilberti Gilbert's Skink USA (California, S Nevada, W Arizona), Mexico (N Baja California) SVL 2½-4½"/6¼-11¼cm A skink found in a variety of habitats, including desert, grassland, woodland, forest and mountain, from near sea level to over 7,000ft/2,000m; often found near streams and springs. Diet is insect and spiders. See subspecies entries for scalation details and coloration: however as a rule the species has 8 supralabials and often 2-3 enlarged nuchals, and adults are plain olive or brown above or have dark spotting which may form a pattern. Reproduction: males lose striping earlier than females. Clutch of 3-9 eggs laid in summer [SOURCE: Stebbins] B I
P. g. gilberti Greater Brown Skink, Greater Western Skink     Scalation details: parietals usually separated from each other behind interparietal; interparietal rather wide, short and wedge-shaped; 7-8 (usually 8) supralabials; usually 2 pairs of nuchals; 24-28 scale rows at midbody; transverse scale rows from parietal to posterior margin of thigh 58-64, usually 61. Coloration: variable with age and size: (young) overall dark brown dorsally; 2 dorsolateral and 2 lateral light lines, dorsolateral lines beginning on snout and covering most of 2nd and much of 3rd scale row, lateral light lines covering 6th and 7th scale rows; brown area between these two stripes on each side is very dark; belly grey; tail blue; young marked like young and most adults of P. skiltonianus. (Juveniles) at a length of 5-5½ cm SVL the blue on the tail is lost, and the ground colour becomes light in the areas between the light lines, leaving only dark borders next to the light lines; at a SVL of 6½cm only the anterior part of the dorsolateral lines is visible, the rest of the body being brownish olive. (Adults) the entire animal is overall uniform brownish olive, all stripes having disappeared; head and neck become bright red; ventral surfaces behind reddish throat are grey to yellowish white. [SOURCES: Smith, Stebbins]
P. g. arizonensis Arizona Skink USA (Arizona)   No other details currently available.
P. g. cancellosus Variegated Skink USA (California)   Coloration: young differ from the other subspecies in having a pink tail tinged with blue; older individuals have barring or dorsal latticework.
P. g. placerensis Northern Brown Skink, Glazed Skink USA (N California)   Scalation details: 7-8 (more usually 7) supralabials; usually 1 pair of nuchals, sometimes 2; transverse scale rows from parietal to posterior margin of thigh 58-64, usually 61. Coloration: variable with age and size: (young) overall dark brown dorsally; 2 dorsolateral and 2 lateral light lines, dorsolateral lines beginning on snout and covering most of 2nd and much of 3rd scale row, lateral light lines covering 6th and 7th scale rows; brown area between these two stripes on each side is very dark; belly grey; tail blue; young marked like young and most adults of P. skiltonianus. (Juveniles) at a length of 5-5½ cm SVL the blue on the tail is lost, and the ground colour becomes light in the areas between the light lines, leaving only dark borders next to the light lines; at a SVL of 6½cm only the anterior part of the dorsolateral lines is visible, the rest of the body being brownish olive. (Adults) the entire animal is overall uniform brownish olive, all stripes having disappeared; head and neck become bright red; ventral surfaces behind reddish throat are grey to yellowish white. [SOURCES: Smith, Stebbins]
P. g. rubricaudatus Western Redtail Skink USA (S California, S Nevada, W Arizona) Min SVL 4½"/11¼cm Stebbins notes that there are many isolated populations of this subspecies. Habitat includes piñon-juniper woodland, chapparal-oak, chapparal and coniferous woodland. Scalation details: 1 postnasal; 4 supraoculars; 7-8 (usually 8) supralabials 2 large upper scales (upper and lower secondary temporal) between last labial and parietal; parietals and interparietal very elongated; parietals seldom enclose the interparietal posteriorly; 24-26 (usually 24) scale rows at midbody; transverse dorsal rows from parietal to tail base 61-64. Coloration: (young) as in g. gilberti [Taylor] except that tail is pink instead of blue (exception: blue in some mountainous parts of range) with no bluish tinge, the colour being lost at 5-6cm SVL; adults uniform olive brown, head being of same colour. [SOURCES: Smith, Stebbins]
P. inexpectatus Southeastern Five-Lined Skink, Floridan Five-Lined Skink USA (S Maryland, Virginia and Kentucky to Florida Keys and west to E Louisiana) 5½-8½"/14-21½cm; SVL max 3½"/8¾cm  Catholic in choice of habitat but tolerates drier conditions than P. fasciatus or P. laticeps, and hence found on many small arid islands in SE USA. Climbs well but is also terrestrial. Scalation details: postnasal present; 2 postmentals; 7-8 supralabials; 2 moderately sized postlabials. Dorsal scalation: scales at midbody 29-36 (usually 30-32). Subcaudals: middle row near base of tail not enlarged or only very slightly. Coloration: as for P. fasciatus; light stripes, especially middorsal ones, tend to be quite narrow; dorsolateral stripe is on 5th or 4th and 5th row of scales counting from midline of dorsum; dark areas between stripes are black in young, becoming brown with age; young have 5 very narrow yellow or orange stripes that become brighter, often reddish orange, on the head; faint light ventrolateral stripe often present; tail blue or purple; juvenile coloration often persists into adulthood, orange stripes remaining conspicuous and purplish coloration on tail. Reproduction: no details currently available [SOURCES: Conant and Collins, Smith]. B I
P. kishinouyei Japanese Skink Japan (S Ryukyu islands)   Scalation details: postnasal usually present; 1st supralabial forms sutures with nasals and 2nd labial only; 2 unpaired postmentals; usually 3 pairs of nuchals; lower temporal of 2nd row largest and wedge-shaped; 24-26 scale rows at midbody. Other: soles have 2 rows of enlarged tubercles between heel and base of 3rd & 4th toes [SOURCE: Stejneger]. B I
P. lagunensis San Lucan Skink Mexico (Baja California Sur)   Originally considered a subspecies of P. skiltonianus. Scalation details: interparietal enclosed by parietals. B I
P. laticeps Broadhead Skink, Greater Five-Lined Skink USA (SE Pennsylvania to C Florida, west to E Kansas and E/C Texas) 6½-12¾"/16½-32½cm; SVL max 5½"/14¼cm  Second largest skink in USA. Habitat varies, but mainly an arboreal skink found in woodland. Scalation details: postnasal regularly present; 7-8 (usually 8) supralabials, of which usually 5 (sometimes 4) anterior to subocular; no enlarged postlabials (contrast with P. fasciatus), but 1 or 2 very small postlabials may be present; tertiary temporal frequently in contact with last labial, completely enclosing lower second temporal posteriorly; 28-34 (usually 30-32) scale rows at midbody; middle row of subcaudal scales wider than others. Coloration: males olive-brown; in breeding season show orange-red heads, this colour fading by early summer; young are black with 5 yellow stripes (in eastern part of range, may show 7 light stripes) and bright blue tail. Reproduction: mating occurs in April-May in Florida, with chasing and fighting. In Maryland, oviposition occurs late June-early July. [SOURCES: Conant and Collins, Smith]. B I
P. latiscutatus Far Eastern Skink, Japanese Five-Lined Skink Japan, Russia (Kurile Islands)    
P. liui   China (Hubei, Jiangsu and Zhejiang)     B I
P. longirostris Longnose Skink, Bermuda Skink Bermuda Islands 8"/20cm The only endemic terrestrial vertebrate on Bermuda, and endangered by human impact including litter and imported cats and rats. Population estimated at less than 5,000 individuals at time of writing (2011). It is found in rocky coastal areas where it feeds on insects and small crustaceans but also on fish scraps and the fruit of prickly pear cactus. They have been associated with the nests of certain birds in which they are occasionally observed. See the Wikipedia entry for further information and for links to other helpful sources. Coloration: dorsally dark brown or black; throat orange; ventrally pinkish or light grey; young are lighter with dark and cream lateral stripes which fade with age, and blue tails. Reproduction: males have larger heads and lose their stripes sooner. Female lays up to 6 eggs. Sexual maturity is reached at 2-3 years, lifespan possibly 15-20 years [SOURCE: Wikipedia,]
P. lynxe Oak Forest Skink Mexico   For habitat see subspecies entries. Scalation: 3-4 supraoculars: frontal occasionally divided transversely: parietals separated: frontoparietals touching: fontal occasionally divided transversely: two pairs of nuchals: one postlabial: anerior temporal usually touching parietal: 7 supralabials, of which 6th and 7th subequal or 6th or 7th largest (see subspecies): median subcaudals occasionally widened: dorsal rows 48-64, midbody scales 22-26 (usually 24). Coloration: dorsally uniform brown or grey: usually a middorsal pale stripe on neck that terminates on or bifurcates on anterior part of frontal. Reproduction: females slightly larger than males but have shorter hind limbs than males of comparable size. Ovoviviparous. B I
P. l. lynxe Mexico (San Luis Potosi, Hidalgo, Veracruz, Puebla, Guanajuato) 70-75mm SVL Found in tropical and subtropical habitats in foothills and high mountainous terrain from sealevel to about 9,000ft. At the highest levels it may be found in non-tropical habitat. Intergrades with P. l. belli in SE San Luis Potosi. Scalation: 22-26 midbody longitudinal scale rows: usually <=59 dorsal scale rows: proximal median subcaudals about three times wider than long: usually 1-2 small auricular scales present. Coloration: middorsal neck stripe bifurcates on the frontal: entire stripe may be indistinct or absent, or bifurcation on the frontal may be indistinct or absent: dark lateral band has sharp-edged lower border (pale narrow lateral line present or absent): adults have blue-grey tails. 
P. l. bellii Mexico (Durango, Queretaro, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi) 59-67mm SVL Found in foothills and mountainous habitats, including scrub grassland and dry pine-oak forest. Scalation: <=24 midbody longitudinal rows: usually >=60 dorsal scale rows: proximal median subcaudals about three times wider than long: usually 1-2 small auricular scales present.  Birth of young is known to occur in late June and early July. Coloration: pale middorsal neck stripe almost always present and never bifurcates on the frontal: black head, ash-grey dorsum: dark lateral band blends with ventral coloration, no pale narrow lateral line present: adults have bright blue tails.
P. l. furcirostris     Once considered a full species.
P. marginatus Ousima Skink Japan (Ryukyu Islands), Taiwan   See notes in Reptile Database entry. B I


P. m. amamiensis Japan (Ryukyu Islands),  
P. m. marginatus Japan (Ryukyu Islands), Taiwan  
P. m. kikaigensis Japan (Ryukyu Islands),  
P. m. oshimensis Japan (Ryukyu Islands),  
P. multilineatus Chihuahuan Skink Mexico   Known from a small area in the high elevations of the Sierra Madre of Chihuahua.  B I
P. multivirgatus Many-Lined Skink  USA (SE Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, S Utah, NE Arizona, W Texas) 5-7½"/12½/19¼cm; max SVL 2¾/7¼cm



The ReptileDatabase suggests it may possibly occur in Mexico. Diet is mainly insects, including ant larvae. Found in a wide variety of habitats, esp. epipleurotus: see subspecies entries. Scalation details: postnasal usually present; 7 supralabials (occasionally 6 or 8); parietals separated behind interparietal; 2 pairs of nuchals; usually 2 postmentals; scale rows at midbody 24-26; transverse scale rows from parietals to base of tail 61-63. Other: limbs relatively short. Coloration: prominent light stripe restricted to 3rd scale row; see subspecies entries. Reproduction: clutch of 3-9 eggs laid May-Aug and guarded by female. [SOURCES: Conant and Collins, Smith, Stebbins] B I
P. m. multivirgatus Northern Many-Lined Skink USA (SE Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, NE Colorado) Found in sand hill and prairie habitat below 5,500 ft/1,600m, also in vacant areas and under debris in areas of human habitation. It has also been found foraging under cow dung for insects. Coloration: dorsally overall pale grey; upper stripes slightly lighter than ground colour; broad light middorsal stripe bordered by uninterrupted dark stripes, the latter running along 1st and 2nd scale rows; occasional adults may be plain; young have dark dorsum and stripes comprising rows of tiny dots, middorsal stripe flanked by brighter stripes, and blue tail.
P. m. epipleurotus Variable Skink USA (S Utah, SW Colorado, NE Arizona, W Texas) A skink of variable habitats, being found both in high mountains and plateaus, where striped pattern individuals prevail, to low desert, where plain pattern individuals are more common. Coloration: both plain and striped individuals found; striped pattern young are dark with well-defined light middorsal stripe and dorsolateral stripe on 3rd scale row, with age the ground colour becoming paler, the middorsal stripe disappearing, the dorsolateral lines becoming narrow zigzag lines or completely disappearing, and the broad lateral stripe being reduced by the pale ground colour to 2-3 dark lines; tail in all young bright blue.
P. obsoletus Great Plains Skink USA (S Nebraska and extreme W Missouri southward to S Texas, west to C Arizona isolated colony in Arkansas) Mexico (NE, and Chihuahua and Durango) 6½-13¾"/16½-34¾cm; max SVL 5½"/14¼cm Somewhat similar in appearance to the North African Eumeces schneideri. Mainly found in grassland in the Great Plains, but also along watercourses and other bodies of water in arid parts of its range. Preferred habitat is fine soil for burrowing and sunken rocks for shelter. This is the largest skink in eastern and central USA. Scalation details: lateral scales in rows oblique to dorsal rows, extending posterodorsally. Coloration: overall colour varies from light tan to light grey; each scale edged with black or dark brown, this edging varying in distribution so that some individuals appear to have longitudinal stripes; young jet black, tail blue, with white and orange spots on head. [SOURCES: Conant and Collins, Smith] B I
P. obtusirostris Southern Prairie Skink     Considered a subspecies of P. septentrionalis by many authorities: see the latter species' entry. B I
P. ochoterenae Guerreran Skink Mexico (Guerrero)  Max SVL 52-55mm A small slender species with small limbs. Taylor found the first specimens under stone and leaves and the rotting remains of agave plants: subsequent specimens were found in rock ledges and under leaves at the base of large boulders in pine forests high in the mountains. Scalation details: 3-4 (usually 4) supraoculars, of which 3 touch frontal; frontonasal almost never touches frontal; postnasals absent; 7 supralabials, of which 7th is largest; primary temporal scale may or may not contact lower secondary temporal; interparietal not enclosed; 2 pairs of nuchals; single postmental. Dorsal scalation: 20-26 longitudinal dorsal scale rows: 49-57 transverse dorsal scale rows. Other: 10-15 subdigital lamellae. Coloration: overall blackish to greyish-brown; dorsolateral light lines from middle of neck to hind limb, separated from one another by 2-2½ scale rows at midbody; ventrally light on infralabials, chin and throat, greyish or bluish-grey with fine darker flecking on abdomen, sides and beneath limbs; tail brownish at base but distal two-thirds deep purple, less pronounced ventrally. [SOURCE: Taylor 1933] B I
P. okadae Okada's Skink  Japan      B I
P. parviauriculatus Northern Pygmy Skink Mexico (Sonora, W Chihuahua)      B I
P. parvulus Southern Pygmy Skink  Mexico (Colima, Nayarit, Sinaloa)      B I
P. popei Pope's Skink China (Fujian)   Zhao and Adler (1993) describe this species as being known only from the type locality. B I
P. quadrilineatus Hong Kong Skink, Four-Striped Skink China (Guangxi, Guangdong, Hainan and Hong Kong), Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam     B I
P. septentrionalis Prairie Skink Canada, USA   See subspecies entries below for full information.  B I
P. s. septentrionalis Northern Prairie Skink Canada (S Manitoba), USA (Minnesota and W Wisconsin to Kansas) 5¼-8¾"/13¼-22¼cm; max SVL 3½"/9cm Another secretive species, often making its own shallow burrows and excavations. Frequent habitat is stream banks in suitable digging soil. Smith cites Taylor as recording open grassy hillsides with small flat rocks offering shelter. Enemies include hog-nosed snakes (Heterodon), hawks, owls, skunks, raccoons and ground squirrels; cannibalism may also occur. Prey includes small insects, other arthropods and snails. Scalation details: postnasal absent; frontonasal small, occasionally absent, rarely contacts anterior loreal; 2 postmental scales; scales at midbody 25-29 (usually 26-28); transverse scale rows from occiput to base of tail 57-62 (average 60). Coloration: overall colour olive to olive-brown; light dorsolateral stripes strongly bordered both on either edge by dark stripes and extending on to tail, this light stripe covering 4th or 4th and 5th scale rows; pair of relatively faint vetebral lines, or middorsal stripe, or both; broadest dark stripe not more than 2 scales wide; chin is cream, otherwise ventrally bluish; young have bright blue tails. Reproduction: males have deep reddish orange on sides of head in breeding season. Mating takes place May-early June; 5-13 eggs are laid end of May-middle of July, incubation time being 40-52 days. Sexual maturity is reached at the end of the second year [SOURCE: Conant and Collins, Smith] B I
P. s. obtusirostris Southern Prairie Skink USA (S/C Kansas to E/C Texas, single record from extreme S Texas) 5-7"/12½-17¾cm; max SVL 2¾"/7½cm Similar in appearance and habitat to the Northern Prairie Skink: Smith notes that the limbs are a little shorter than in the nominate subspecies. This subspecies often forages along dry stream beds or washes near bases of Opuntia (prickly pear) or other vegetation which it uses as a retreat. Scalation details: frontonasal usually contacts anterior loreal; 2 postmentals; usually 28, sometimes 26 rows at midbody; transverse scale rows from occiput to base of tail 55-58, average 57. Coloration: as for Northern Prairie Skink, but middorsal markings greatly reduced or absent; dark line above light dorsolateral stripe may also be absent, likewise the light stripe along lower sides. [SOURCE: Conant and Collins, Smith]
P. s. pallidus       The status of this subspecies is uncertain. The Reptile Database cites this as a subspecies of P. obtusirostris, treating the latter as a full species rather than a subspecies of P. septentrionalis.
P. skiltonianus Western Skink 



Canada (S/C British Columbia), USA (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Nevada, W Utah, N Arizona and W Montana), Mexico (N Baja California) SVL 2-3¼"/5¼-8½cm A secretive, somewhat fossorial skink, hiding beneath rocks, leaves and logs, or within rotting logs: good burrowers, and may construct tunnels 10-15" long (Smith). It is found in mountainous regions in the desert parts of its range, but may also be found along streams; elsewhere it makes its home in forests or woods. Diet includes moths, beetles, crickets, leaf hoppers and grasshoppers in the wild, and in captivity also flies, cockroaches, earthworms, lepidoptera- and fly larvae. One specimen spent 3 years in captivity. Scalation details: postnasal and 2 postmentals normally present; 24-28 (usually 26) rows at midbody; transverse scale rows from parietals to tail base 51-62 (normally 58-59). Coloration: dorsally light- to clay-brown; head lighter, somewhat reddish, in adult males; 2 broad dorsolateral light lines extend from snout to tail base along adjacent 2nd & 3rd scale rows; light stripe usually edged with dark brown above; lateral light stripe running from labial region through ear to groin along 6th & 7th or sometimes just 6th row, bordered by dark brown line, sometimes dotted, below; dark brown lateral band runs between lateral and dorsolateral stripes from head to some distance along sides of tail; dorsolateral light stripes expand on tail, crowding out dorsal and lateral brown ones; most of tail uniform light brown, but in juveniles bright blue; throat, chest and ventral surfaces of hind legs and tail cream, belly bluish. Pattern is normally retained even in old individuals, though may be less distinct. Reproduction: breeding males develop reddish suffusion in temporal region. Clutch of 2-5 eggs laid in excavations beneath rocks in June-July. The female guards the eggs and stays with the hatchlings for a few days until they disperse. [SOURCES: Smith]  B I
P. s. skiltonianus  Skilton's Skink Canada (S/C British Columbia), USA (Washington, Oregon, N Idaho, California, Nevada, W Utah and W Montana), Mexico (N Baja California)   Coloration: pale middorsal stripe, usually covering over half of 2nd scale row, and width of which at midbody is half or more of that of middorsal stripe; some individuals found with red tails.
P. s. brevipes        No information currently available: however there seems to be some debate on the validity and status of this subspecies.
P. s. interparietalis Coronado Island Skink      
P. s. utahensis Great Basin Skink USA (S Idaho, Nevada, W Utah and N Arizona)   Found in rocky vegetated areas above 4,000ft/1,000m. Coloration: pale middorsal stripe, usually covering half or less of 2nd scale row, and width of which at midbody is less than half of that of middorsal stripe.
P. stimpsonii Stimpson's Skink Japan     B I
P. sumichrasti Sumichrast's Skink Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, N Honduras   Uncommon inhabitant of moist lowland forests, found in leaf litter, beneath surface debris, or basking on tree stumps and rotting logs. It is mainly terrestrial but can climb trees. Diet is mainly insects but occasionally small lizards. Can be distinguished from the similar-looking Mesoscincus schwartzei by not having an enlarged vertebral scale row, and from Mabuya unimarginata by having enlarged scales between ear and eye. There is an isolated population in NE Yucatán in addition to the main range. Scalation details: femoral pores absent; no gular fold. Coloration: juveniles dark brown or black with 5 yellow or cream stripes running from head to base of tail, the vertebral stripe dividing on the head at eye level, and with brilliant blue tail; with age individuals lose striped pattern and become olive grey or tan, but may retain some blue on the tail; chin and throat cream or yellowish; ventrally generally yellowish or bluish grey. Reproduction: clutches of up to 11 eggs deposited in rotting stumps or limbs of trees at heights of up to 20m, attended by female; hatching in Belize in April. [SOURCE: Lee] B I
P. tamdaoensis Vietnam Skink Vietnam, China (Hong Kong)   B I
P. tetragrammus Four-Lined Skink USA (C & S Texas), Mexico Max SVL 74mm  Scalation: 4 supraoculars, dorsal scales in 26-28 rows at midbody.  [SOURCES: Conant and Collins] B I
P. t. tetragrammus Four-Lined Skink USA (S Texas), Mexico (N Veracruz, Querétaro, Coahuila) 5-7¾"/12½-20cm; max SVL 3"/7½cm Conant and Collins describe this species as being found in the Rio Grande Valley in the brush- and grassland and the gallery forest along the river, and note that it can often be found by peeling away the dried frond husks at the bottom of palm trees. Lieb describes it as most abundant in brush- and grasslands with sandy substrata but that it is also found in tropical deciduous forest, palm forest, subtropical brushlands with rocky substrate, and in mesic forests associated with riparian areas, at elevations of sea level to 1060m. Scalation: postlabial scales usually double: postnasals usually absent: interparietal usually not enclosed by parietals. Coloration: adults are dorsally pale. Dark lateral stripes and dorsolateral and lateral light lines run the length of the body in adults and juveniles, but there is no median light line (cf P. callicephalus). [SOURCES: Conant and Collins, Smith]
P. t. brevilineatus Short-Lined Skink USA (C & SW Texas), Mexico (N Coahuila, N Nuevo León, isolated colony in Chihuahua) 5-7"/12½-17¾cm; max SVL 2½"/6½cm Found most abundantly in xerophilous woodlands with rocky substrata, but also in grasslands and brushlands with sandy substrata and riparian woodlands through xeric areas. Elevations range from 150 to 2,300m. Scalation: postlabials usually double: interparietal usually not enclosed by parietals. Coloration: body striping terminates between shoulder and midbody. [SOURCES: Conant and Collins, Smith] 
P. tunganus   China (W Sichuan)     B I


Taxonomic Review of the Mexican Skinks of the Eumeces brevirostris Group, James R Dixon, Los Angeles Museum Contributions in Science, Number 168, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, 1969.

Systematics and Distribution of the Skinks Allied to Eumeces tetragrammus (Sauria: Scincidae), Carl S Lieb, Los Angeles Museum Contributions in Science, Number 357, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 1985.

The Mexican Skink Eumeces lynxe (Squamata, Scincidae), Robert G Webb, Biological Series Volume 4 Number 1, Publications of the Museum, Michigan State University, 1968.

Two New Mexican Skinks of the Genus Eumeces, Edward H Taylor, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, Vol 46 pp 129-138, June 30 1933. The first description of P. copei and P. ochoteranae.

"A new skink from Mexico", Edward H Taylor, Zoological Series of Field Museum of Natural History, Volume XX No 10, Chicago, May 15 1935. First description of P. colimensis.

"Diagnoses of eight new batrachians and reptiles from the Riu Kiu Archipelago, Japan", Leonhard Stejneger, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, Vol XIV, December 12 1901. Describes briefly P. kishinouyei as a new species.


The Reptile Database provided helpful information on the distribution of Mexican species.

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