The Outdoor Journal by Kyle Carroll
Most of us have seen these guys from time to time sunning on a rock, concrete or brick surface on the south side of our house or garage. Sometimes the sound of one running off into dry leaves is startling, but for the most part, they are harmless colorful insect eaters that live around our porches and back steps.
The skink we see is usually called the "blue-tailed" skink, and is Missouri's most common skink. It has shiny scales and a dark ground color with light stripes. Color varies with sex and age. Adult males are uniform olive or tan with a faint dark side stripe and a few light stripes, but during breeding season, the male's head is bright red orange. Adult females are normally brown with a dark brown side stripe, five tan stripes that are more pronounced than in males, and a blue or blue-gray tail. Juveniles are the most striking. They are black with five yellow stripes running from head to base of their tail, and their tail is brilliant, cobalt blue. The different color of the juvenile is striking, and is believed to be a way of protecting them from territorial males, who during breeding season might attack them if they looked like adult five-lined skinks.
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, “In Missouri, egg-laying takes place from late April through June. Females nest in leaf litter or under rotten logs, tree stumps, or rocks, laying 4-14 eggs. She stays with her eggs until they hatch, eating any bad eggs to remove them from the nest. The eggs hatch in 1-2 months. “
The five lined skink is just one of Missouri 75 species of reptiles that call our state, and your backyard, home.