Extending The Five Lives of a Five-lined Skink

Skinks are not salamanders or short snakes with four legs. Skinks are lizards found throughout North America. A Haliburton skink has five stripes from nose to tail but those stripes fade as the skinks get older (kind of like our memories). Male skinks have bright orange jaws and chins.

Five Lined Skink

Photo By Scott Gillingwater

These small ground dwellers have “Species At Risk” status in Haliburton County.

So, in the interest of species conservation, here are Five-Lives Tips for our friends the skinks:

1. Always avoid exotic pet hunters:  You are Ontario’s only lizard and you better hide when unscrupulous folk try to satisfy lizard-longing terrarium owners;

2. Keep a low profile around dogs, cats and raccoons: you are busy predators, snacking endlessly on insects, worms or even other invertebrates but you have to watch out for the ‘big guys”.

3. Stick to rocky outcroppings in mixed forests of conifers and deciduous trees: loose rocks provide you with nesting and food sources but this habitat also has great hiding spots when needed (see #1 and #2.)

4. Teen skinks should wear camouflage: unlike tattoos, you juveniles have bright blue tails that fade as you age. Sassy teen skinks know those tails detach when pounced on by predators.

5.  Wear a sign that says: I’m A Species At Risk in Haliburton County.

I guess the skinks won’t be reading this newsletter. If we want this Species At Risk to survive and thrive, it is up to us. Those cute inukshuks all over Haliburton County? Those are skink habitats you are messing with. “THINK SKINK” before you move protective loose rocks on the ground.

Ruth E. Walker is an award-winning Ontario writer and has a cabin tucked between the Burnt and Drag Rivers in Haliburton. She is an active member of the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust.

Comments

  1. Hi Ruth
    I thought I was seeing things last weekend at the cottage. I went to open the front door and on the side step was a Blue Tailed Skink sunning itself while waiting for little bugs to walk by so it could snap them up.
    It has been 40 years that we have had our cottage on Glamor Lake and this is the very first time I have encountered a Skink, let alone knowing they inhabited the Highlands.
    being a kid growing up at the cottage I was always on the search for snakes salamanders turtles worms etc but never encountered a Skink.
    He or she was so relaxed that it only ran under the stairs when I tried to get a close up picture then came out again after I stepped back. So cool!
    Thought I would share, take care.

    Dave

    • Thank you for sharing Dave! The Land Trust is always interested in hearing your stories of the Highlands, so please feel free to share your stories anytime.

      We also encourage you to report Species at Risk (SAR) such as your observation of the Five-lined Skink. The Land Trust has SAR observation summary sheets that can be found on our homepage under the Wildlife Tab > Species at Risk. Or you can simply follow this link: https://www.haliburtonlandtrust.ca/wildlife/species-at-risk/.

      Thanks again for your note Dave!

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