If you’ve ever seen a Five Line Skink, you’ll know how cute they are!
The five-lined skink, which looks a bit like a salamander, is the only species of lizard native to Ontario. And although researchers continue to study skinks, we still don’t know much about what they do on a day-to-day basis, particularly from September to May, when they are hibernating.
Here are five interesting things we DO know about five-lined skinks, courtesy of Alistair MacKenzie, resource management supervisor at Pinery Provincial Park.
1. Where they live
In Ontario, you will find five-lined skinks in Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and along the Lake Erie shoreline. They live under rocks, fallen trees and leaves.
2. Skinks are solitary
Like frogs, they travel alone through life and come together only when it’s time to mate in May and June.
The female lays up to a dozen eggs in a nest she builds under rocks or logs. But that’s about as motherly as she can get! When the little skinks hatch about a month later, they are on their own to forage for food and avoid predators.
3. Skinks add a pop of color
Skinks begin life with a bright metallic blue tail and a dark body with five light-colored stripes running from the snout to the tail.
As they age, the tail and body become a more uniform grayish-brown color. They grow up to about 20 cm in length.
4. Skinks are diurnal (active during the day)
Skinks spend their time searching for crickets, flies, larvae, worms, and spiders to eat and basking on rocks or tree branches when they need warmth.
They have keen senses of sight and smell and can move very quickly, which helps them catch their prey.
5. Skinks are skilled escape artists.
They have many natural enemies, including foxes, raccoons, snakes, and birds of prey. BUT If a predator catches a skink by the tail, the tail will break and flap! This distracts the predator and allows the skink to escape. The tail will grow back over time, but never as much as before.
Skinks are an endangered species in Ontario
Both populations of five-lined skinks in Ontario have declined dramatically to the point that they are now protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Habitat loss is one reason, but five-lined skinks are also threatened by motorists and people who collect them for the pet trade.
If you have information about poaching, please report it to the Information Line of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
Here’s how you can help:
Skinks are shy, but friendly and need our help to survive.
- respect their habitat by not removing trees and fallen wood or cutting tall grass on your property
- Stay alert and reduce your speed. when driving a car or bicycle in areas where you know they live
- become a volunteer community scientist And help contribute to what we know about five-lined skinks by reporting where and when you see them.