prairie skink

(Plestiodon septentrionalis)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

prairie skink

NatureServe

N5 - Secure

S5 - Secure

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

Common

Habitat

Stream banks, openings in pine barrens, mixed grass prairies, oak savannas, rock outcroppings. Sandy soil.

Lifespan

5 to 7 years

Size

5¼″ to 8¾″ long

   
    Photo by Bill Reynolds
 
Identification

This is a medium-sized, terrestrial lizard with a long tail. It is the most common skink in Minnesota.

Adults are 5¼″ to 8¾″ in total length including the tail. Females may be larger than males. The body is shiny, tan or brown on the back, dark brown to almost black on the sides, with alternating dark and light stripes. There are three wide, pale stripes on the back that do not extend onto the head, and two very narrow white stripes on each side that do extend onto the head. The head is otherwise unmarked. The chin and throat are yellowish or pale yellow. The belly is gray to tan and unmarked. The legs are short, dark brown above, and pale below.

The lips, chin, and throat of breeding males is bright orange during the breeding season. Juveniles have a bright blue tail that fades as the skink matures.

 
Similar
Species

Five-lined skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) dorsal stripe form splits to form a "Y" shape on the top of the head. Juveniles and females have a blue or bluish-gray tail.

 
Food

Grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, caterpillars, and other insects; also spiders, snails and and other small arthropods.

 
Life Cycle

Adults emerge from hibernation in April. Juveniles emerge 3 to 4 weeks after adults. Breeding occurs in the spring. Gestation lasts about 40 days. Sometime in June the female lays 4 to 18 eggs, usually 8 to 10, in a shallow nest under a surface cover. The eggs hatch after about 30 days.

In September each skink creates a burrow up to 26 deep and begins hibernating. They do not hibernate in groups.

Northern prairie skinks reach sexual maturity in their third year. They live 5 to 7 years, possibly more.

 
Behavior

 

 
Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 7, 11, 14, 24, 29, 72, 74.

 
Comments

Taxonomy
This species was formerly named Eumeces septentrionalis. In 2008, the genus was split and most species were assigned to new genera. Most print sources and a few online sources, including ITIS37, still refer to the species by its former name.

 
Taxonomy

Order:

Squamata (amphisbaenians, lizards, and snakes)

 

Suborder:

Lacertilia (lizards)

 

Infraorder:

Scincomorpha (skinks, wall lizards, and relatives)

 

Family:

Scincidae (skinks)

 

Subfamily:

Scincinae

 
Subordinate Taxa

northern prairie skink (Plestiodon septentrionalis septentrionalis)

southern prairie skink (Plestiodon septentrionalis obtusirostris)

 
Synonyms

Eumeces septentrionalis

 
Common
Names

prairie skink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       
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Christina
       

slithers like a snake and freaked me out. Never seen or heard of this before

  prairie skink    
       
Mark DeBeer
       
  prairie skink    
       
Darren
       
  prairie skink    
       
Bill Reynolds
       
  prairie skink    
       
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Other Videos
 
  Northern Prairie Skink in Minnesota Eumeces septentrionalis
eldavojohn
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Sep 18, 2011

Eumeces septentrionalis Growing up, these things were all over our backyard. I took some video last time I was home. These guys are insanely fast. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prairie_Skink

   
       
  Iowa Northern Prairie Skink
digitaldubuque
 
   
 
About

Published on Dec 16, 2012

The video was produced for the Mines of Spain exhibit area. It was taken with a Canon 7D and 100mm 2.8 macro lens.

   
       

 

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Visitor Sightings
   
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Christina
9/6/2019

Location: Mound, MN: Dakota Trail

slithers like a snake and freaked me out. Never seen or heard of this before

prairie skink


Carmen Stimac
8/16/2019

Location: Cottage Grove


Steve Mosloff
7/19/2019

Location: ~ 7 miles SW of Thief River Falls, MN


Justin Schroeder
4/30/2019

Location: North Branch


Otto
4/25/2019

Location: Princeton, MN


Karl
8/14/2018

Location: Northern Minnesota just south of Bemidji.

Northern Prairie Skink (Plestiodon septentrionalis septentrionalis)

Fastest little lizard I’ve ever seen almost looked like a fast forwarded snake as it swam through the long grass I was mowing near our local dirt road..Very short legs almost like a salamander. A first time in the wild sighting for me.


Mark DeBeer
7/17/2015

Location: Russell, MN Lyon County

We live on an acreage that has quite a bit of loam soil but there is a gravel pit and wetland area nearby.

prairie skink


Darren
5/23/2014

Location: St. Cloud, MN

This evening I rolled over a large rock and saw it curled up.

prairie skink


Mindy
7/4/2015

Location: Elkton, sd


Zeke
6/19/2015

Location: Lakeland, MN


Chris Savageau
7/18/2010

Location: glyndon


Bill Reynolds
2010

Location: Pennington Co Minnesota

Found in uncut field

prairie skink


     
     
 
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