five-lined skink

(Plestiodon fasciatus)

Conservation Status
five-lined skink
Photo by Jon R. Samuelson
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


N5 - Secure

S3 - Vulnerable


Special Concern


The upper (dorsal) surface has 5 distinct yellow stripes running from the head to the tip of the tail. The central stripe splits in two forming a "Y" on the top of the head.

Juveniles have a bright blue tail. Adult females have a bluish-gray tail. Adult males have a gray tail.




5 to 8½


Similar Species


Prairie skink (Plestiodon septentrionalis) lacks the "Y" shaped mark on the top of the head. The tail is never blue.

Six-lined racerunner (Aspidoscelis sexlineatus) has three stripes on each side.


Moist but not wet wooded areas with rock outcrops, including bluffs, forest edges, and savannas.




When attacked by a predator, the skink will detach its tail. The tail will continue to wiggle and distract the predator while the skink seeks cover. The tail will regrow but will not be as long or as colorful as the original.




5 to 7 years


Life Cycle






Crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, and other insects; spiders; and snails.


Distribution Map



6, 11, 14, 24, 29, 30, 72, 74.




Scattered populations in only seven or eight Minnesota counties

  Class Reptilia (reptiles)  
  Superorder Lepidosauria  
  Order Squamata (snakes and lizards)  
  Suborder Lacertilia (lizards)  
  Infraorder Scincomorpha (skinks, wall lizards, and relatives)  
  Superfamily Scincoidea  


Scincidae (skinks)  


Scincinae (typical skinks)  


Plestiodon (toothy skinks)  

Five-lined skink was formerly classified as Eumeces fasciatus. Recently, two separate studies, Smith (2005) and Brandley et al. (2005), proposed separating all species in North America north of Mexico into the genus Plestiodon. This was accepted by Crother (2008) and by Collins and Taggart (2009). Most sources now use this new classification. ITIS still classifies North American skinks in the genus Eumeces.


Subordinate Taxa






Eumeces fasciatus

Lacerta fasciata


Common Names


American five-lined skink

blue-tailed skink

common five-lined skink

five-lined skink








Visitor Photos

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James, Grant, and Aubrey Moldaschel

  Saw 2 juveniles with blue tail. Found by James (12) Grant (9) and Aubrey (6). They let it go after about a day and it still has it's tail.   five-lined skink  
    five-lined skink   five-lined skink  
    five-lined skink      

Bruce L.


one of two seen today

    five-lined skink   five-lined skink  

Jon R. Samuelson

    five-lined skink      








Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Blue-tailed Plestiodon fasciatus
Creepy, Funny, and Crazy Videos

Published on Jul 29, 2015

Blue-tailed Plestiodon fasciatus

Filmed: July 4, 2009

  American five-lined skink

Published on Aug 23, 2014

Plestiodon fasciatus (American five-lined skink) pays us a visit.

  The Five-lined Skink - Russell Cave National Monument
NPS Inventory and Monitoring

Published on Nov 20, 2012

Video describing the biology and natural history of the five-lined skink, a common reptile at Russell Cave National Monument.

  The Five-Lined Skink

Uploaded on Jan 21, 2010

This is a video of the five-lined skink from the BBC's Life in Cold Blood documentary series.

  American five-lined skink, Juvenille

Published on Jul 26, 2013

Plestiodon fasciatus

July 25, 2013, Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Juvenilles have the bright blue tail. Adults swap the blue tail for red coloring on the head.

This one was sweeping his tail back and forth until I grabbed the video camera, when he froze in place for a several minutes and finally did one tail sweep. I can't imagine why they do that. It seems like that brightly colored moving tail would be a "come eat me" signal to every coon, snake, and bird nearby.




Visitor Sightings

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Lindsey Mueller

Location: Anoka, Mn

non blue tail but moved so fast we couldn’t catch it! I have never seen one here before or anywhere in Minnesota living here my entire life (29 years!) they are like short garter snakes with legs in how they move around. 


Robin LaFortune

Location: Lake Rebecca Park Reserve

Observed 5-lined skink at Lake Rebecca Reserve in Rockford Mn.  Seen by one other observer. Had orange cheek patches and a shorter tail, as if a predator had grabbed the tail and the tail came off

  Jeff n Wendi


Location: Shoreview, MN

A juvenile 5 lined skink was found today in Shoreview, MN by my Wife.  Blue tail, approx. 3-4 inches long.  Climbed up on my wife's hands while pulling weeds from the block retaining wall.  Expect a hatch happened so we put it back were found.  Ramsey Co.


Location: Eagan, MN

  James, Grant, and Aubrey Moldaschel

Location: Brown County SE of Sleepy Eye MN

Saw 2 juveniles with blue tail. Found by James (12) Grant (9) and Aubrey (6). They let it go after about a day and it still has it's tail.

five-lined skink  
  Bruce L.

Location: Island Lake, Hubbard County

one of two seen today

five-lined skink  
  Jon R. Samuelson

Location: White Bear Lake

five-lined skink  

Location: The Preserve Golf Course at Grand View Lodge, Pequot Lakes, MN

We saw a juvinile with a bright blue tail at The Preserve just south of Pequot Lakes on Thursday July 28. Four of us saw it. We got a very close/good view of it.







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