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What Is a Ground Skink?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2014
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A ground skink is a type of small lizard native to parts of North America. It can be found in several types of habitats, but it typically prefers deciduous forests. Its long body and short legs enable it to quickly wriggle through the dead leaves on the forest floor to escape predators.

From the Scinidae family, the ground skink is also sometimes referred to as the little brown skink. It is native to the eastern parts of North America. In the United States, it can be found as far north as New Jersey, as far south as Florida, and out west to parts of Texas. It can also be found in some parts of northern Mexico.

This reptile is considered the smallest lizard in the United States. Adults will often grow no larger than 3 to 6 inches (7.5 to 15.2 centimeters) long. Even ground skink eggs, which are laid in the summer, are tiny, usually no larger than a penny.

Ground skinks can range from golden to dark gray in color. Most of these lizards, however, are a copper brown in color, with a tan or white underside. Dark stripes can be seen on both sides of the body, running from the nose to the tip of the tail.

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A ground skink has an elongated body with small, short legs. It has a long tail, and its smooth scales often give this lizard the appearance of being shiny. The head of this lizard is also quite small, and its lower eyelid is transparent. This eyelid helps protect the skink's sensitive eyes as it makes its way through dirt or dried leaves on the forest floor.

The ground skink can be found in several types of habitats, including at the edges of bodies of water. Woodland forests, however, are typically the preferred habitat of these types of lizards. These lizards seem to prefer the ground cover of dead leaves in the forests.

Despite its tiny legs, the ground skink can be very quick. Instead of running, it will usually wriggle its body to “swim” through the substrate on a forest floor when escaping from a predator, like a snake or bird of prey. The tail of this skink will also come fall off, if a predator happens to get ahold of it.

These lizards are considered to be diurnal. This means that it is active during the day, and it rests at night. In cold climates, it will also bury itself in the ground to hibernate. In warm climates, however, the ground skink is active all year.

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