|Photo: Chris Brown, USGS|
The Western skink is a scaly brown lizard that wiggles in snake-like fashion. The tail is easily lost, but a new tail grows. The bright blue color and movement of the shed tail attracts attention of predators, allowing the skink to escape. Zones of weakness in the tail vertebrae make possible a quick, clean break. The large artery in the tail contracts to prevent excessive bleeding. Skinks may be active during the day, but prefer to be cooler than most other lizards.
- Cylindrical shaped, lizard-like 6 ½” – 9” Gray, beige or brown, with or without stripes. If striped, a brown strip down the back border by whitish or beige strips which begin on the nose and end on the tail. Tail usually brown. Young have bright blue tails that fade to grayish brown as they mature. Smooth, shiny scales with rounded hind margins; no longitudinal rows of dark crossbars on back.
- Rocky areas near streams, woodlands, forest clearings, broken chaparral, grasslands, dry hillsides, leaf litter; likes cover; often found under rocks, logs or leaf litter.
- Widely distributed in western mountain regions; northern AZ and southern NV and along CA coast to southern Baja California
- Beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, leaf hoppers, moths, caterpillars, spiders, sow bugs. Skinks can identify prey by sight and taste; they touch tongue to potential food and decide whether or not to eat it.
- Active March to October, peak activity from March to June