06/12/2021 by Suzy 0 Comments
Life on the Creek - 5 Lined Skink
One of our favorite creek critters is the common five-lined skink. These little lizards are frequently seen scurrying around the kayak shop and in the woody areas around the creek.
It is almost officially summer here on Ayers Creek. The monarchs and hummingbirds are busy nectaring on our native plants. We love this time of year as the temperatures inch up and the days are long. This means more time on the water! We also look forward to welcoming back some of the wildlife that we don't see over the winter. One of our favorite creek critters is the common five-lined skink. These little lizards are frequently seen scurrying around the kayak shop and in the woody areas around the creek.
The five-lined skink is the most common lizard in Maryland. They can live up to 6 years and may grow up to 8 inches long. The juvenile skinks have 5 yellow or white stripes on the head and body and are characterized by their bright blue tail. The blue tail, which fades with age, is used to draw predators away from the more vulnerable head and body area. The tail can detach when grabbed by a predator and will later regenerate. The tail continues to move when detached, distracting the predator and providing the young skink time to escape. The adult female looks similar to the juvenile minus the blue tails. The adult males are uniform tan or olive in color with orange-red jaws during breeding season.
Common five-lined skinks are found in woods around logs, stumps, and rock piles. We often see them scurrying along the sides of the kayak shop and along the cool concrete floors. The skink provides natural pest control with a diet consisting mainly of spiders, crickets, beetles and other insects. They are active during the day foraging for insects and basking in the sun.
The female five-lined will lay 6-12 eggs, which take up to 6 weeks to hatch. She demonstrates a high level of parental care during incubation. The female actively guards the nest and will vary brooding positions to control moisture and temperature reducing egg mortality. Once the young leave the nest, a day or two after hatching, the female no longer provides parental care.
We look forward to seeing you and the skinks on the creek this summer.