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North American Species Of Skinks

Most species of skinks in North America are in the genus Eumeces. The five-lined skink (Eumeces fasciatus) is widespread in the eastern United States and southern Ontario in open forests, cutovers, and other exposed habitats having an abundance of damp ground debris. This species has a distinctive pattern of five lines running down its back.

The broad-headed skink (E. laticeps) also occurs in the eastern United States. During the breeding season, the males of both of these species develop a bright red head. Other males react aggressively to this color, through ritualized displays, and sometimes by fighting. The females skinks, however, do not have red heads and are not treated this way.

The great plains skink (E. obsoletus) occurs in prairies of the west, while the four-lined skink (E. tetragrammus) occurs in Texas and Mexico.

The females of most species of Eumeces skinks brood their eggs and recently hatched young. One female great plains skink was observed curled around her clutch of 19 eggs under loose tree bark. The mother skink cleaned and moistened her eggs by licking them, turned them frequently to facilitate even incubation and proper development, helped the young to hatch when they were ready to do so, and brooded the young and licked them clean. This degree of parental care is unusual among reptiles.

The ground skink (Leiolopisma laterale) occurs throughout the southeastern United States, hiding in plant litter on the forest floor, and sometimes in suburban gardens. The sand skink (Neoseps reynoldsi) is a rare species that only occurs in two isolated areas in Florida.

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