One Skink, Two Skinks, Striped Skink, Brown Skink

Preface: Not rhyming or as whimsical as a Dr. Seuss story, this post may just be a way to showcase poorly-composed, amateur photos of skinks. Like a grandpa in the 1950s, lugging out the slide projector after a family dinner to light up images on a pull-down screen as he tells stories about all his life’s travels, I may also hope the audience feels too awkward to try to sneak away right when my little slideshow is about to start.

Moving to the South 25 years ago meant an adjustment to the heat, humidity and creatures of my new home. In other words, little reptiles are everywhere. I see them when I open my front door, when I step onto the sidewalk and when I look out the window. They are on all the concrete, brick and metal structures that occupy their natural habitat.

I’ve been calling them lizards for too long and while they are a type of lizard, most Southerners call them by their proper name, skinks. So, I decided it was time to find out a little more about them.

“Admiral, There Be Skinks Here.”

Misquoting Scotty from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is the best way I know to establish my authority on this subject.

More than 1,500 species of skinks exist. My state seems to be flush with the five-lined skink, southeastern five-lined skink, and the broadhead skink.

While skinks are part of the lizard family, they have smaller legs than typical lizards. If you yearn to know more, see what Wikipedia says about five-lined skinks.

When I go for walks, I usually interrupt skinks sunbathing on the hot sidewalk. They scatter and run into the grass or squeeze into cracks in the concrete. So, like a paparazzo, I try to get candid shots of them when they don’t know I’m around. When I see my cats staring at something outside, I get the camera ready.

My Skinky Photos

Taking photographs through window screens is a great strategy for getting candid and obstructed views of skinks sunbathing.

I have my own names for the skinks based on their personalities since they are regular visitors to the same locations.

black cat inside looking at skink on ground, outside the window screen.
Bear, the cat, with the Taunting Skink

This skink runs back and forth in front of my cat as if daring him to attack. Luckily, Bear never goes outside, and would never belittle himself by lunging at a screen door, otherwise this would be Cat-Food Skink.

Torti cat inside looking at skink on brick ledge outside
Lorna with the Hot Brick Skink

Skinks love the brick ledge outside my front windows that get the full force of the sun. Lorna tracks with her eyes and sometimes chatters to Hot Brick.

The Lizard at the Door

A brown lizard on a green planter in front of a brick wall.
A brown (at the moment) lizard on a planter

This is Door Cam Lizard. When I open my front door, we startle each other.

While this lizard looks innocent on the empty, raised planter, I know he sits on top of my door cam and swings his tail in front of the lens. The first time my phone alerted me to someone at my door and I saw a giant rope swinging back and forth, I was disturbed by the threatening visual. It took future security alerts to catch a glimpse of its head attached to the swinging rope to know what was happening.

Since this lizard is bigger and with a duller sheen than the other creatures, I did some last-minute research. The consensus from the experts in my Facebook group that identify wild critters is that this is an anole. So, forgive me for sneaking an anole into a skink post.

A Few Facts on Five-Lined Skinks

My state’s wildlife resources commission states these facts about our resident five-lined skinks:

  • Length about 5” to 8” (12.7 cm to 20.32 cm)
  • Food: mostly insects, occasional small vertebrates  
  • Habitat: deciduous forests, moist regions, rural areas coexisting with humans
  • Certain birds, snakes and mammals prey on them.
  • Their tail breaks off if grabbed by a predator. If the skink survives, the tail grows back shorter with a duller color
  • Excellent climbers that run up trees to avoid predators

“What a Wonderful World” of Skinks

While some Southerners are annoyed by these creatures that sneak into your home or crawl up your pants if you surprise them, I hear Louie Armstrong singing, “What a Wonderful World” when I think of them. I appreciate small, nonaggressive reptiles that run away from me, entertain my cats through a screen, and eat insects, like roaches and spiders, before they get inside my apartment.

What are your thoughts on skinks? Do you have any reptiles at your door? What makes you hear Louie Armstrong sing?

8 thoughts on “One Skink, Two Skinks, Striped Skink, Brown Skink

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    1. Do the geckos ever get inside people’s homes? I always think of Australia as being full of unique and lethal animals, but a certain ’80s movie may be to blame…. I saved the creepy door cam video by the way, and if I ever learn how to edit my car’s license plate out of the background, I’ll add it to the post.

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      1. Geckos do get inside our house from time to time in the summer.

        CROCODILE DUNDEE (1986) and it’s sequels certainly did put Australia on the map internationally as the land of dangerous beasts and critters.

        And yeah, if you’re able to pixelate out or in some way obscure the number plate, would love to see that ‘swinging rope’ vid.

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  1. I have loved lizards since I spent a summer in the Catskills as a child. I played with salamanders all summer. I had no idea there were so many kinds of skinks! Except, of course, for the Blue Skink

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    1. The skinks I’ve seen are very fast. They’d be hard to catch. Found one by accident yesterday when watering my patio plants, think he was under leaves and I watered him by mistake. He ran out of the plant and up the wall of the building. I never saw any lizards or salamanders in NY. Mostly frogs and turtles.

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  2. Well I certainly learned something new. The type of skinks we have around our place are the 5 lined skinks. I love catching sight of their brilliant blue tails skittering along the porch or garage wall. Each summer one or two make their way into our basement. Our cat, which looks a lot like your Lorna, loves finding them, “playing” with them, and then leaving them as gifts on our black Lab’s dog bed. Sadly, I don’t think the dog gives her quite the grateful reaction she’s expecting.

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    1. Yes, I don’t think dogs appreciate the same achievements that cats do! I’ve been lucky that no skinks have ever gotten inside. I’ve heard they can be hard for a person to catch once they do. They are pretty in their own way with their glossy sheen. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the blue tail on the lined skinks, but they may be moving too quickly for me.

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