This the largest skink in the
Midwestern United States, measuring 6½ 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,
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 2½ inches
long, jet black in color, with bright blue tail
and small bluish-white or orange spots on the
This species feeds on insects,
spiders, mollusks, and other lizards, all of
which it actively seeks out.
genus & species Eumeces obsoletus
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