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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Did You Know? 13 Incredible Western Skink Facts

Fascinating western skink facts to enrich your knowledge about this species.

The name 'western skink' is derived from the name of the prominent American naturalist Dr. A.J Skilton, who discovered this species. The Plestiodon skiltonianus is a covert diurnal lizard that has a wide range of distribution across North America, including the USA, Mexico, and Canada. This lizard is identified for its smooth body and blue tail. Western skinks are branched into three nominotypical subspecies, the Coronado skink (Plestiodon skiltonianus interparietalis ) which can be found in southern California and the region of Baja California, in Mexico. The great basin skink (Plestiodon skiltonianus utahensis) can be found in Utah. The most widespread of these subspecies is Skilton's skink (Plestiodon skiltonianus skiltonianus) which is found in the western territories of the U.S and southern part of British Columbia in Canada.

Fascinated already? To know more about the western skink (Plestiodon skiltonianus) keep reading this article.

You can check out our other articles which have interesting facts about crocodile skinks and blue tongue skinks.

Western Skink Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a western skink?

Western skinks are lizards with smooth scales that live in a variety of habitats, found mostly in North America. The body length of this lizard is equivalent to the length of its tail. The species is further classified into three subspecies, Plestiodon interparietalis, Plestiodon utahensis, and Plestiodon skiltonianus out of which the Skiltonianus western skink is the most familiar subspecies.

What class of animal does a western skink belong to?

Western skinks belong to the family Scincidae and genus Plestiodon. However, the previous genus of western skinks was Eumeces skiltonianus and the name was later replaced with western skink, Plestiodon skiltonianus, of Reptilia class, order Squamata.

How many western skinks are there in the world?

Western skinks can be observed in a variety of habitats across the continent of North America, particularly in June and July. These lizards have a substantial population in the U.S including Washington, Nevada, Idaho, and Oregon, but an accurate number of its population has not been estimated.

Where does a western skink live?

Western skinks have a wide range of habitats that extend from Canada to some parts of Mexico. In Canada, the Skiltonianus western skink is found in southern British Columbia, and in the U.S it can be observed in the territories of Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and even in Northern California, but it is restricted to coastal areas of Central and South California. These reptiles can be spotted in Texas, Montana, and even in some areas of northern Arizona. In Mexico, they can be found in Baja California.

What is a western skink's habitat?

The ideal habitat of Eumeces skiltonianus can be described as damp and away from densely forested areas. Western skinks are typically found in habitats like rocky areas, grasslands, leaf litter, broken chaparral, and areas of steep terrain. This type of habitat fulfills their requirement for forging and cover from predators.

Who do western skinks live with?

Western skinks spend most of their life alone, it is only during the breeding season they interact with others of their species.

How long does a western skink live?

The average lifespan of amphibians and reptiles are is around 10 years and the Western skins have an approximate lifespan of 10 years as well.

How do they reproduce?

The Eumeces skiltonianus is a lizard that is primarily active during June and July, which is also their breeding season, as they develop orange color near their head, chin, and under their tail. The method of breeding is similar in all amphibians and reptiles, which is copulation, and the female lays up to six eggs that hatch in late summer.

What is their conservation status?

Western skinks are not threatened, these lizards have a large range of distribution across North America including Canada, Denver, Oregon, Washington, and even Mexico. The main predators of western skinks are snakes, raccoons, foxes, and birds of prey. Otherwise, these lizards are not threatened by anything, and hence the conservation status is of Least Concern as per IUCN.

Western Skink Fun Facts

What do western skinks look like?

It has small legs and its abdomen is a light gray or cream color.

The Eumeces skiltonianus possess certain unique characteristics which distinguish them from the rest of the amphibians and reptiles. The unusual body length of an adult where the length of their tail is equivalent to the length of their body which is around 4-8.5 in (10.1-21.5 cm), has a glossy body which is due to the cycloid scales. This lizard is inclined towards basking in the sun and the ideal months to spot them are during the summer, especially in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and other regions. The most remarkable feature is their shiny bright blue tail, the most interesting part about the bright blue tail is that it is found in juveniles, and when they become adults their tail undergoes the process of fading or discoloration. Occasionally the bright blue color remains into adulthood. This lizard also has wide stripes of color which extend from their head and covers their body. The stripes are of various colors of tan, black, or dark brown, the juveniles commonly have brown stripes. During the breeding season, the adults develop an orange color which is present on the side of their head, chin, and under their tail. The color of their body helps the lizards to camouflage them under the leaf litter. Also, the shiny bright blue tail is frequently used to distract its predator as it can detach its tail from its body and it will eventually grow back.

How cute are they?

Western skinks are lizards, many people may find them cute, while other people may not.

How do they communicate?

These lizards are mostly solitary and there are not many records of them communicating, other than during the breeding season.

How big is a western skink?

Western skinks are small creatures, their size, and uniquely colored body assist them in forging and camouflaging in their natural habitats. The body length is equivalent to the length of their tail, and their total length is approximately 4-8.5 in (10.1-21.5 cm). The largest skinks are prehensile-tailed skinks which have a body length of almost 30 in (76.2 cm).

How fast can a western skink move?

These lizards are agile and quick, skinks can be as fast as 50mph on a flat landscape with a decent tailwind, but the precise speed of western skinks is not listed.

How much does a western skink weigh?

The weight of these lizards is not currently listed.

What are their male and female names of the species?

Western skinks are not assigned sex-specific names, the male is called a male skink while the female is called a female skink.

What would you call a baby western skink?

The breeding season of western skinks ranges from June to July when these lizards are extremely active, the adult western skinks develop an orange color on their chin, the side of their head, and the underside of their tail. After mating, the females lay up to six eggs that hatch in late summer. The females construct chambers for nesting in damp soil that is present beneath surface objects, flat stones, and logs, where eggs can be safe from the predator. The juvenile has a bright blue tail and dark brown stripes but there is no specific name used to describe them.

What do they eat?

A large population of western skinks resides in Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and British Columbia, which provides them with ideal habitats for foraging. These lizards are insectivores and stalk their prey before eating it. Their diet consists of grasshoppers, caterpillars, moths, and beetles, and sometimes even earthworms play a crucial role in their diet.

Are they poisonous?

No, western skinks are not poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

Western skinks are protected under the Wildlife Act, and as such, they cannot be domesticated.

Did you know...

The only lizard with a blue tail to be found in Washington is the western skink.

Skinks exist globally except in the polar and boreal regions.

What happens if a skink bites you?

Skinks are non-venomous hence their bite is not fatal.

How do you tell if a skink is male or female?

The behavior and physical aspects of western skinks can enable us to identify males and females. The males are more dilated towards the base of their tails than females, and also the heads of the male skinks are much wider and bigger than the females.

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 vine snake facts and anaconda snake facts.

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

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