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Great Plains Skink

Eumeces obsoletus


This the largest skink in the Midwestern United States, measuring 6 to 9 inches, including the tail. Adults are greenish-brown to gray in overall color. Almost every scale has a gold or light colored dot, sometimes arranged in such a way as to give the appearance of dark stripes. This species is distinguished by its shiny scales and alert, agile appearance.

Great Plains Skink

Distribution and Habitat

The Great Plains skink ranges from southern Nebraska and Missouri south into northeastern Mexico. It is a resident of open plains and grasslands. Although it prefers moist areas it can also be found in shaded areas with tall trees, as long as there is a permanent or semipermanent body of water nearby.


This skink is diurnal, but often spends hotter days lying underneath sun-warmed rocks and/or in burrows. It spends winters burrowed into the soil or in a rock crevice that will not freeze. It emerges from dormancy in late April.

If disturbed, a skink can "break off" its tail and run off while its enemy is distracted. The tail will regenerate, but will not have a pattern, will have slightly different scalation, and will never be as long as the original.

The skink has powerful jaws that can inflict a nasty bite when handled.


Breeding begins in late spring. The female burrows deep beneath a large boulder (or something similar), and lays an average of 12 eggs. Unlike most other reptilians, which leave their eggs as soon as they are laid, the female Great Plains skink guards her eggs during the one- to two-month incubation period, and cleans off the hatchlings before leaving them to fend for themselves. The young are about 2 inches long, jet black in color, with bright blue tail and small bluish-white or orange spots on the head.


This species feeds on insects, spiders, mollusks, and other lizards, all of which it actively seeks out.

Scientific Classification

phylum Chordata
subphylum Vertebrata
order Squamata
family Scincidae
genus & species Eumeces obsoletus

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The Robinson Library >> Science >> Zoology >> Reptiles and Amphibians >> Suborder Sauria

This page was last updated on May 23, 2017.