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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

16 Sand Skink Facts You'll Never Forget

Discover fascinating sand skink facts about its behavior, reproduction, habitat, and more!

The sand skink is an iconic lizard that is scientifically known as Plestiodon reynoldsi, Neoseps reynoldsi, or Neoseps reynoldsi Stejneger. It belongs to the skink family, Scincidae, and is a member of the Plestiodon genus. This species is quite small, measuring 4-5 in (10.2-12.7 cm) in length (snout to tail). Surprisingly, half of its body comprises its long tail. This unique lizard has a tan to gray coloration. Its head is wedge-shaped, with front limbs that are really small, featuring only one toe that can be retracted into its body grooves, along with thicker hind limbs which feature two toes. Astonishingly, these reptiles can swim under the surface of the sand because of their unique physical features, especially their hind limbs. This species is adapted to living underground beneath loose sand, which is why it is commonly known as the sand skink. Endemic to Florida, this exceptional skink used to be spotted in Central Florida only throughout the Lake Wales Ridge region. However, it is also found in the Orange, Marion, Polk, Highland, and Lake Counties. It is also known to exist in Polk County's Lake Arbuckle State Park and Wildlife Management Area.

Its habitat preferences include scrubby flatwoods, rosemary scrub, turkey oak, oak scrubs, and sand pine. It is also commonly called the Florida sand skink. These sand skinks suffer from habitat fragmentation that has led to their distribution becoming discontinuous and spotty. This species is threatened, labeled as Vulnerable in the IUCN's Red List.  This skink species breeds during March and May with elaborate courtship rituals as well! Please keep reading to get to know more details about this sand skink, Neoseps reynoldsi, habitat, reproduction, behavior, and diet!

If you enjoyed reading our sand skink facts, you would definitely love reading blue tongue skink facts and crocodile skink facts!

Sand Skink Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a sand skink?

The Florida sand skink, Neoseps reynoldsi, is a skink that is the only member of the Plestiodon genus and belongs to the Scincidae family. Their conservation status as per the IUCN is Vulnerable.

What class of animal does a sand skink belong to?

This lizard belongs to the class Reptilia.

How many sand skink are there in the world?

There has not been any study of the sand skink to evaluate its population. However, we do know that the population trend of this skink of North America is decreasing. Their conservation status as per the IUCN is Vulnerable as their habitat is under constant threat.

Where does a sand skink live?

The sank skink is endemic to arid habitats (xeric vegetation). They can be spotted along the sand ridges of Central Florida and the remaining coastal dunes. It can be seen in the seven counties of Central Florida, namely, Lake, Polk, Highlands, Osceola, Marion, Orange, and Putnam.

What is a sand skink's habitat?

The sand skink, Neoseps reynoldsi, is a tiny skink that is non-migratory. It lives underground, 4 in (10.1 cm) beneath the surface. Its habitat preferences include scrubby flatwoods, rosemary scrub, turkey oak, oak scrub, and sand pine scrub. It has adapted to an underground presence. For this species to adjust to its habitat, moisture level, and food adequacy are essential factors. Their habitat exists throughout Lake Wales Ridge as well as the Winter Haven Ridge. These skinks can be spotted in the region of transition between palmetto-pine Flatwoods and the Florida rosemary scrub (xeric vegetation), where the appropriate humidity level is present beneath the surface in the sand.  

Who do sand skinks live with?

The sand skinks are solitary creatures who only come together to breed.

How long does a sand skink live?

The lifespan of the sand skink, Neoseps reynoldsi, has not been evaluated yet. However, we do know that these skinks become sexually mature at the age of around one or two years and stay sexually active for two or three more years.

How do they reproduce?

Sand skinks highly engage in activities during March and May, which is their mating season. This lizard has elaborate courtship rituals, where the male lizard grasps the female skink with his jaws and hits her sides with his front limbs. Their mating lasts for seven minutes approximately. In early summers, the female sand skink lays two eggs that are longer than their width beneath logs. She coils around her eggs for their protection. The incubation of these sand skink eggs takes about five weeks. The sand skink's hatchlings are approximately 2 in (5.1 cm) in length.

What is their conservation status?

This North American skink has a Vulnerable conservation status as per the IUCN. It has also been listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a Threatened species. The Florida sand skink is highly threatened because of habitat fragmentation and loss. There has not been any study of the sand skink, Neoseps reynoldsi, to evaluate its population. However, we do know that their population trend is dropping. This tiny creature is protected at the Lake Louisa State Park (Lake County), Ocala National Forest (Marion County), Tiger Creek Preserve, Bok Tower Nature Preserve,  Lake Arbuckle State Park, Wildlife Management Area (Polk County), Lake Arbuckle State Park,  Saddle Blanket Lakes Preserve, Wekiwa Springs State Park (Orange County), and Archbold Biological Station (High-lands County).

Sand Skink Fun Facts

What do sand skinks look like?

The sand skink has a very long tail that makes up for about half of its body!

This species is quite small as compared to the giant skinks. The Florida sand skinks range between 4-5 in (10.2-12.7 cm) in length (Snout to tail). Surprisingly, half of its body comprises its long tail. This unique lizard has a tan to grey coloration. Its head is wedge-shaped, with front limbs that are really small, featuring only one toe that can be retracted into its body grooves, along with thicker hind ones which feature two toes. Astonishingly, these reptiles can swim under the surface of the loose sand because of their unique physical features, especially their hind limbs and countersunk lower jaw. They have small eyes in which the lower lids possess transparent 'windows'.

How cute are they?

These lizards are quite cute because they are so tiny, with their small limbs and small eyes.

How do they communicate?

Not much is known about how this lizard communicates. However, we do know that skinks spread pheromones (chemicals) to send signals to other skinks. The sand skink communicates with its mate via movements like grasping and stroking.

How big is a sand skink?

Florida sand skinks range between 4-5 in (10.2-12.7 cm) in length, whereas the juveniles are about 2 in (5.1 cm) at birth. This lizard is about the same size as the common garden skink.

How fast can a sand skink move?

The speed of these reptiles has not yet been evaluated yet. However, it is known that these creatures swim through sand efficiently and quite fast because of their unique features like their hind legs, countersunk lower jaw, and grooves in their bodies.

How much does a sand skink weigh?

The weight range of these skinks is not yet known.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The males and females of this species do not have specific names.  

What would you call a baby sand skink?

A Florida sand skink's baby is known as a hatchling.

What do they eat?

They prey upon a wide range of insects, like small arthropods, antlions (an insect that resembles a dragonfly), principally beetle larvae, termites, caterpillars, and spiders. It is believed that they are mainly preyed upon by Florida scrub jays.

Are they poisonous?

No, these creatures are not poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

This species is known to spend the majority of its time underground. They are also listed in the IUCN's Red List as Vulnerable, so they can't be kept as a pet.

Did you know...

Florida sand skinks can burrow 2-3.9 in (5-10 cm) underground to forage!

What physical adaptations do sand skinks have?

As this species spends most of its time beneath the surface, it has physically adapted to move comfortably in its natural habitat. It can retract its small legs into its body's grooves which decreases the resistance as it dives deep into the sand. Its wedge-shaped head also aids in convenient locomotion. It also has transparent patches in its lower lids that help it in seeing while burrowing while also protecting the eyes. Its hind legs also help it in pushing back the sand.

Are sand skinks endangered?

Yes, this species is considered Vulnerable by the IUCN. They have been labeled so because they are threatened by habitat fragmentation and habitat loss.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles including giant tortoise facts or alligator facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Giant skink coloring pages!

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