Check Out This Skink!

One spring morning when our family was walking home from the neighborhood park, I did a double take as we approached a tree snag in the woodland that borders our yard. There, hanging out, was a reptile we’d not seen before. After admiring it for a spell, we popped inside the house to grab a camera and search the field guide for an ID. We learned it was a broad-headed skink. Because it lingered for some time, I pointed it out to other passers-by. This made my husband laugh, for I was so excited. But sharing nature’s wonders is part of the fun of discovering them—don’t you think?

Broad-headed skink on tree snag

Kelly is an editor at National Wildlife magazine and gardens in northern Virginia.

© 2010 – 2012, Kelly Senser. All rights reserved. This article is the property of BeautifulWildlifeGarden.com We have received many requests to reprint our work. Our policy is that you are free to use a short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact form above if you have any questions.

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Comments

  1. says

    Kelly,
    He is beautiful! I love the copper coloring and his cute feet. His head looks more to me like a snake then a lizard. What does he eat, and what’s his native range? It looks like he is about 10 – 12″ long with tail, is that his adult size? Thanks for the amazing picture – he looks like he could come right out of the computer and onto my desk!

    Kathy
    Kathy Green recently posted..Wordless Wednesday – Replenishing Rain

  2. says

    What a great find, Kelly. You were particularly lucky he was still there when you went to fetch the camera! Something tells me your husband is getting use to you sharing the joys of Beautiful Wildlife.

  3. says

    How cool Kelly. I’m with you on sharing nature’s beauty. I actually get disappointed if I find something really cool and there isn’t anyone to share it with. Nice shot.

  4. says

    Thanks for the kind comments, everybody. (So nice to “see” you, Kat!)

    Kathy: The broad-headed skink feasts on insects and other invertebrates and tends to be more arboreal than other species in the Southeast. The eNature site lists its range as “Se. Pennsylvania to c. Florida, along the Gulf Coast to e. Texas, north to Kansas and Illinois.” The top end of the species’ size range is just over 12 inches, so I’d say your estimate is right on (the large orange head indicates the skink pictured above is an adult male).

    Although the woodland where we found the skink is not technically in our yard, I consider it part of our adopted habitat and no doubt see a greater diversity of species in the garden because of it. Though I can’t manage the space entire, you will find me removing Japanese honeysuckle vines (blooms in background, above) to prevent them from strangling the native woodland trees. Giving back to the forest that gives so much to me …

    Have not yet seen another one of these tree-dwellers, so it was indeed a “lucky day” when we came upon this skink. :0)

  5. says

    That is a beauty! We don’t have those here, just garter snakes in my yard. I haven’t seen one lately, but my husband said he saw one on the compost pile the other day, and our son said a girl was walking around holding one, showing it to some other girls. I hope she put it back where it was, and didn’t harm it. If it’s who I’m thinking of, I’ve chased her out of my yard more than once when she was trying to catch butterflies.
    Corner Garden Sue recently posted..Critters from the Week

  6. says

    Beautiful pic! Thnx for sharing it! And thnx to the skink for hanging around long enough to be photographed.

    Skinks are such kyool creatures, aren’t they? I love their smooth skin, the tiny scales are just so neat!

    We used to have blue-tailed skinks hang out with us in my Mom’s garden. They got pretty used to us after a while and would stop startling every time they saw us.

    That skink reminds me of ones I saw back at camp in Central Ohio when I was a kid. Wonder if there is a related species?

  7. says

    Oh, I love those guys! The males get positively enormous, too–I’m used to the little anoles and five-lined lizards, but if you startle one of those big guys, you both know you’ve been somewhere!

  8. Debra says

    Kelly, I can totally relate to the impulse to stop passers by — I have done that myself, most recently in an urban neighborhood when a red tailed hawk was sitting in a tree above the sidewalk outside a hospital. Mostly, people were interested…only got one “crazy lady, avoid her” look from someone. :-)
    Great photo!

    • Kelly Senser says

      Occasionally I’ll get that look too, Debra, but there are other times when the wonder I share is returned. A neighbor recently told me he was admiring some goldfinches in his yard … said before he wouldn’t have even noticed them, but he was encouraged to tune in after bird-watching with our family. Made me smile. Yup. Sharing is good. Glad you pointed out the red-tailed hawk. :0)

      • says

        Kelly, I just love what a great story-teller you are! Your responses are filled with more stories. You make things sound so exciting, I guess people can’t help but want to share your passion.
        Carole recently posted..Redefining Beautiful

    • says

      Thanks so much for sharing your blog post, Alan. How wonderful that you got to observe this portion of the skink’s life cycle. It is amazing what you can come across in nature. So much to learn and discover!

  9. says

    I’m glad to finally have a name for this guy… I really liked the name “copper skink” but I couldn’t get anything to come up on google… The closest I’d been finding was greater brown skink, and those are out west… not our region…
    I followed one around with my camera recently, trying to get that perfect shot… he looks very funny with those lil short stumpy legs…
    http://stonethegardener.tumblr.com/post/5429149822/searchin-fer-luv
    stone recently posted..2 colours

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