Skinks on the wood

So the other day I noticed something moving around on one of our woodpiles. When I went to investigate, it turns out the movement was a couple of skinks coming out to sun themselves on the wood.

Small lizards on a wood rack
Skinks sunning themselves on the wood.

While I’m not a herpetologist by any stretch of the imagination–I’m pretty certain that these are a couple of southern prairie skinks.

A little closer view of the skinks

These skinks are brown to tan in color on their back with alternating dark and light stripes on their sides and back. During the breeding season, the throat/neck and head of males will start to turn an orange/red color.

Therefore, I managed to get a picture of a possible breeding pair of prairie skinks–since the one on the left looks a little ‘chunky’, I’m assuming that it is the female and she is starting to gestate a decent number of eggs.

The prairie skinks

The prairie skinks are only active about four months out of the year (depending on location), as they usually hibernate from September through late April (late fall through early spring). Mating happens in early-to-mid May, and then the female will gestate for about 40 days (so not quite six weeks), and the eggs will then hatch in August. These skinks have ‘delayed’ sexual maturity to where they don’t start mating until their third year, so they spend the first two years of their life growing before looking for a mate.

The prairie skink is actually divided into two subspecies–a northern subspecies that ranges from central Kansas up through Nebraska, Iowa, the Dakotas and Minnesota, with a small population also found in both Canada and Wisconsin. The southern subspecies is found mainly within Oklahoma and Texas, with a small pocket in both Arkansas and Louisiana.

Since these lizards are usually only seen in the open during breeding season, I’m happy that I manged to get a couple pictures of them and will be keeping an eye out for other skinks and lizards in the area this year.