prairie skink

(Plestiodon septentrionalis)

Conservation Status
prairie skink
Photo by Bill Reynolds
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

S5 - Secure

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
           
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Prairie skink 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.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

5¼″ to 8¾″ long

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
 

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

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

 
     
 
Habitat
 
 

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

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Behavior

 
 

 

 
     
 

Lifespan

 
 

5 to 7 years

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

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

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.

 
     
 

Food

 
 

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

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

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

 
  10/8/2013      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common

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

Family

Scincidae (skinks)  
 

Subfamily

Scincinae (typical skinks)  
 

Genus

Plestiodon (toothy skinks)  
       
 

Prairie 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

 
 

northern prairie skink (Plestiodon septentrionalis septentrionalis)

southern prairie skink (Plestiodon septentrionalis obtusirostris)

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Eumeces septentrionalis

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

prairie skink

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
Visitor Photos
 
           
 

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Dan W. Andree

 
 

Prairie Skink...

I came across this little prairie skink out near Sandpiper Prairie SNA in Norman Co. Mn. It was probably 6-6.5 inches in length. Not very big I had previously seen a larger one some time back at a different location but that one was next to dense cover and scooted out of site. This one paused in the open briefly then scooted a distance, paused and scooted out of site. Then I seen it again a little later. It was really windy Sept. 6th, 2020 up in this particular area. So taking photos or shooting video of it was difficult to say the least. But did somehow manage somewhat. I filmed this one going down a hole with just maybe an inch of its tail still sticking out then it backed out of the hole, paused briefly then it scooted off. Interesting and cute little lizard.

  prairie skink  
 

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      
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

 

 
           
           

 

Camera

     
 
Slideshows
 
 
     
     
     

 

slideshow

       
 
Visitor Videos
 
       
 

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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.

 
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

Report a sighting of this reptile.

 
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Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Be sure to include a location.
 
  Dan W. Andree
9/6/2020

Location: near Sandpiper Prairie SNA in Norman Co. Mn.

I came across this little prairie skink out near Sandpiper Prairie SNA in Norman Co. Mn. It was probably 6-6.5 inches in length. Not very big I had previously seen a larger one some time back at a different location but that one was next to dense cover and scooted out of site. This one paused in the open briefly then scooted a distance, paused and scooted out of site. Then I seen it again a little later. It was really windy Sept. 6th, 2020 up in this particular area. So taking photos or shooting video of it was difficult to say the least. But did somehow manage somewhat. I filmed this one going down a hole with just maybe an inch of its tail still sticking out then it backed out of the hole, paused briefly then it scooted off. Interesting and cute little lizard.

prairie skink  
  KBrek
7/13/2020

Location: Miltona, MN

Not knowing what it was we grab it and ended up with just the tail. The tail kept moving for a few minutes after.

 
           
  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  
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
 
   

 

 

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