Skinks (pronounced "skænk") are lizards belonging to the family Scincidae and the infraorder Scincomorpha. With more than 1,500 described species, the Scincidae are one of the most diverse families of lizards.[1] Common skinks include many different kinds such as the slender skink, snake-eyed skink and the skinks of Plestiodon are among the common skinks.[2]

Blue-toungued skink444
Eastern blue-tongued lizard
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Superfamily: Scincoidea
Family: Scincidae
Gray, 1825

Scincinae (probably paraphyletic)
For genera, see text.


Skinks look like true lizards, but most species have no pronounced neck, and their legs are relatively small; several genera (e.g., Typhlosaurus) have no limbs at all. The skink skull is covered by substantial bony scales, usually matching up in shape and size, while overlapping.[3] Other genera, such as Neoseps, have reduced limbs and with fewer than five toes (digits) on each foot. In such species, their locomotion resembles that of snakes more than that of lizards with well-developed limbs. As a general rule, the longer the digits, the more arboreal the species is likely to be. A biological ratio can determine the ecological niche of a given skink species. The Scincidae ecological niche index is a ratio based on anterior foot length at the junction of the ulna/radius-carpal bones to the longest digit divided by the snout-to-vent length.[4]

Most species of skinks have long, tapering tails they can shed if predators grab onto them. Such species generally can regenerate the lost part of a tail, though imperfectly. If a skink loses part of its tail it can grow a tail in roughly three to four months.[5] Species with stumpy tails have no special regenerative abilities.

Some species of skinks are quite small; Scincella lateralis typically ranges from 7.5 to 14.5 cm (3.0 to 5.7 in), more than half of which is the tail.[6] Most skinks, though, are medium-sized, with snout-to-vent lengths around 12 cm (4.7 in), although some grow larger; the Solomon Islands skink (Corucia zebrata) is the largest known extant species and may attain a snout-to-vent length of some 35 cm (14 in).

Skinks can often hide easily in their habitat as their skin color often resembles its habitat.[7]

Blood color

Skinks in the genus Prasinohaema have green blood because of a buildup of the waste product biliverdin.[8]


The word "skink" originated around 1580-90. The word "skink" comes from classical Greek skinkos and the Latin scincus a name that referred to various specific lizards of the region.[9]

Skink-like lizards first appear in the fossil record about 140 million years ago, during the early Cretaceous, mostly jawbones that appear very skink-like. Definitively skink fossils appear later, during the Miocene period.[10]

Skink genera known from fossils include the following:[11]


A trait apparent in nearly all species of skink is digging and burrowing. Most spend their time underground where they are mostly safe from predators, sometimes even digging out tunnels for easy navigation. They also use their tongues to sniff the air and track their prey. When they encounter their prey, they chase it down until they corner it or manage to land a bite and then swallow it whole.


Skinks are generally carnivorous and in particular insectivorous. Typical prey include flies, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, and caterpillars. Various species also eat earthworms, millipedes, centipedes, snails, slugs, isopods, moths, small lizards (including geckos), and small rodents. Some species, particularly those favored as home pets, are omnivorous and have more varied diets and can be maintained on a regimen of roughly 60% vegetables/leaves/fruit and 40% meat (insects and rodents).[12]


Although most species of skinks are oviparous, laying eggs in clutches, some 45% of skink species are viviparous in one sense or another. Many species are ovoviviparous, the young developing lecithotrophically in eggs that hatch inside the mother's reproductive tract, and emerging as live births.

In some genera, however, such as Tiliqua and Corucia, the young developing in the reproductive tract derive their nourishment from a mammal-like placenta attached to the female – unambiguous examples of viviparous matrotrophy.[13] Furthermore, an example recently described in Trachylepis ivensi is the most extreme to date: a purely reptilian placenta directly comparable in structure and function, to a eutherian placenta.[14] Clearly, such vivipary repeatedly has developed independently in the evolutionary history of the Scincidae and the different examples are not ancestral to the others. In particular, placental development of whatever degree in lizards is phylogenetically analogous, rather than homologous, to functionally similar processes in mammals.[13]


Skinks typically seek out sheltered environments out of the elements, such as thick foliage, underneath man-made structures, and ground-level buildings such as garages and first-floor apartments. When two or more skinks are seen in a small area, it is typical to find a nest nearby. Skinks are considered to be territorial and often are seen standing in front of or "guarding" their nest area. If a nest is nearby, one can expect to see 10-30 lizards within the period of a month. In parts of the southern United States, nests are commonly found within houses and apartments, especially along the coast. The nest is where the skink lays it white small eggs, they can lay up to 250 eggs at a time.[15]


Cape Skink Flowers
Cape skink native to South Africa

Skinks are very specific in their habitat as some can depend on vegetation while others may depend on land and the soil.[16] As a family, skinks are cosmopolitan; species occur in a variety of habitats worldwide, apart from boreal and polar regions. Various species occur in ecosystems ranging from deserts and mountains to grasslands.

Many species are good burrowers. More species are terrestrial or fossorial (burrowing) than arboreal (tree-climbing) or aquatic species. Some are "sand swimmers", especially the desert species, such as the mole skink or sand skink in Florida. Some use a very similar action in moving through grass tussocks. Most skinks are diurnal (day-active) and typically bask on rocks or logs during the day.


Raccoons, foxes, possums, snakes, coatis, crows, cats, dogs, herons, hawks, lizards, and other predators of small land vertebrates also prey on various skinks. This can be troublesome, given the long gestation period for some skinks, making them an easy target to predators such as the mongoose, which often threaten the species to at least near extinction, such as the Anguilla Bank skink. Invasive Rodents are a major threat to skinks that has been overlooked, especially tropical skinks.[17]


Many large genera, Mabuya for example, are still insufficiently studied, and their systematics are at times controversial, see for example the taxonomy of the western skink, Eumeces skiltonianus. Mabuya in particular, is being split, many species being allocated to new genera such as Trachylepis, Chioninia, and Eutropis.


Female Skink with Eggs

Female skink with eggs

Skink in Aussie

Skink in Australia

Indian Skink

Indian skink

Skink found in Sri Lanka

Skink found in Sri Lanka


  1. ^ Mecke, Doughty & Donnellan (2013). "Redescription of Eremiascincus fasciolatus (Günther, 1867) (Reptilia: Squamata: Scincidae) with clarification of its synonyms and the description of a new species" (PDF). Zootaxa. 3701 (5): 473–517. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.3701.5.1.
  2. ^ "Skink | lizard". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2019-05-06.
  3. ^ Grzimek, Bernhard (1975). Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia Volume 6 Reptiles. New York, NY: Van nostrand reinhold company. p. 242.
  4. ^ Schnirel, Brian (2004). "SENI biometric analysis on the extinct Scincidae species: Macroscincus coctei". Polyphemos, Volume 1, Issue 2, May, Florence, South Carolina. pp. 12–22.
  5. ^ "10 Creatures That Conveniently Grow Back Body Parts". TreeHugger. Retrieved 2019-05-06.
  6. ^ "Species Profile: Ground Skink (Scincella lateralis) | SREL Herpetology". Retrieved 2019-05-06.
  7. ^ "Skink Facts". Retrieved 2019-05-06.
  8. ^ Malhotra, Anita. "Some lizards have green blood that should kill them – and scientists can't work out why". The Conversation. Retrieved 2019-05-06.
  9. ^ "the definition of skink". Retrieved 2019-05-06.
  10. ^ Scientific American — Skinks, Skinks, Skinks
    Fossils indicate skinks as a whole are a fairly old group of lizards, the oldest specimens attributed to the group dating to the Lower Cretaceous. The vast majority of early fossil representatives of the group is jaw fragments alone. These are certainly from skink-like lizards (from the major lizard group termed Scincomorpha), but they might not all be from skinks proper, and some have been suggested to actually represent other groups (like the armadillo lizards or cordylids, a scincomorph group that also has a possible Cretaceous fossil record). Definite fossil members of modern groups – like blue-tongued skinks – are present in the Miocene.
  11. ^ "Scincidae Gray 1825". Paleobiology Database. Fossilworks. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  12. ^ McLeod, Lianne. "Keeping Blue Tongued Skinks as Pets". Retrieved 2006-08-27.
  13. ^ a b Justin L. Rheubert; Dustin S. Siegel; Stanley E. Trauth (19 December 2014). Reproductive Biology and Phylogeny of Lizards and Tuatara. CRC Press. pp. 548–. ISBN 978-1-4665-7987-3.
  14. ^ Blackburn, D. G.; Flemming, A. F. (2011). "Invasive implantation and intimate placental associations in a placentotrophic African lizard, Trachylepis ivensi (Scincidae)". Journal of Morphology. 273: 137–59. doi:10.1002/jmor.11011. PMID 21956253.
  15. ^ "Amazing Facts about the Common Garden Skink | OneKindPlanet Animals". OneKindPlanet. Retrieved 2019-05-06.
  16. ^ Cabrelli, Abigail (August 2017). "Assessing the vulnerability of Australian skinks to climate change". Climate Change. 130: 223–233 – via Energy & Power Source.
  17. ^ Thibault, Martin (2017). "Invasive rodents, an overlooked threat for skinks in a tropical island hotspot of biodiversity". New Zealand Journal of Ecology. 41: 1–10.
  • Template:De Vosjoli, Philippe (1993) Prehensile-Tailed Skinks. Advanced Vivarium Systems. ISBN 1-882770-24-2
  • Hedges, S. Blair and Caitlin E. Conn. 2012. A new skink fauna from Caribbean islands (Squamata, Mabuyidae, Mabuyinae). Zootaxa 3288.

External links

Bermuda rock skink

The Bermuda skink or rock lizard (Plestiodon longirostris, formerly Eumeces longirostris) is a critically endangered species and the only endemic land-living vertebrate of Bermuda. It is a relatively small skink (a kind of lizard): adults reach an average snout-to-vent length of about 8 cm (3.1 in).

Blue-tailed skink

Blue-tailed skink may refer to:

Cryptoblepharus egeriae, a lizard native to Australia's Christmas Island

Plestiodon elegans, the five-striped blue-tailed skink, a lizard found in East-Asia

Plestiodon fasciatus, the five-lined skink of North America

Trachylepis margaritifera, the rainbow mabuya of Africa

Trachylepis quinquetaeniata, the five-lined mabuya of Africa

Blue-tongued skink

Blue-tongued skinks comprise the Australasian genus Tiliqua, which contains some of the largest members of the skink family (Scincidae). They are commonly called blue-tongued lizards or simply blue-tongues or blueys in Australia. As suggested by these common names, a prominent characteristic of the genus is a large blue tongue that can be bared as a bluff-warning to potential enemies. Blue-tongued skinks are also bred in captivity and sold as house pets. They are relatively shy in comparison with other lizards, and also significantly slower due to their short legs.

Carinascincus metallicus

"Metallic skink" may also refer to the garden skink (Lampropholis delicata).

Carinascincus metallicus, the metallic cool-skink or metallic skink is a species of skink in the family Scincidae. It is endemic to Australia, found in southern Victoria, as well as in Tasmania where it is the most widespread and common lizard, occurring on many offshore islands in Bass Strait as well as the mainland. It gives birth to live young. It is highly variable in colour and pattern, and may be a complex of closely related species.

Common garden skink

The common garden skink or pale-flecked garden sunskink (Lampropholis guichenoti), also known as a penny lizard, is a species of small common skink endemic to Australia.

Cullen skink

Cullen skink is a thick Scottish soup made of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. An authentic Cullen skink will use finnan haddie, but it may be prepared with any other undyed smoked haddock.

This soup is a local speciality, from the town of Cullen in Moray, on the northeast coast of Scotland. The soup is often served as a starter at formal Scottish dinners. Cullen skink is widely served as an everyday dish across the northeast of Scotland.

Local recipes for Cullen skink have several slight variations, such as the use of milk instead of water or the addition of single cream. Other variations include mashing the potatoes to make the soup thicker. Cullen skink was traditionally served with bread.

It has been described as "smokier and more assertive than American chowder, heartier than classical French bisque."Cullen skink appears in many traditional Scottish cookery books and appears in numerous restaurants and hotel menus throughout Scotland, the UK, and internationally. In 2012 a Guardian columnist described the dish as "the milky fish soup which has surely replaced your haggises and porridges as Scotland's signature dish".

Eastern blue-tongued lizard

The eastern blue-tongued lizard (Tiliqua scincoides scincoides) is a subspecies of large skink which is common throughout eastern Australia, often found in bushland and suburban areas where conditions are suitable. The lizard is known as blue-tongue because its tongue can range from bright to dark blue, and it has a habit of displaying it prominently and hissing loudly when disturbed.

The eastern blue-tongued lizard is a stout and slow lizard with brown to grey scales and a barred pattern across the body and tail. The underside is usually pale. Blue-tongued lizards are popular as pets and can live up to 30 years in captivity. They give birth to live young, between six and a record 20 per litter. The young consume the egg sac immediately after birth. They resemble the adult form closely. Several other types of blue-tongued lizard are in the genus Tiliqua, such as the northern blue-tongued skink and the shingleback or stump-tailed skink.

This subspecies was first described as Lacerta scincoides, by the Irish surgeon and botanist John White,

Gran Canaria skink

The Gran Canaria skink (Chalcides sexlineatus) is a species of skink in the Scincidae family which is endemic to Gran Canaria. Its natural habitats are temperate forests, temperate shrubland, Mediterranean-type shrubby vegetation, temperate grassland, rocky areas, sandy shores, pastureland, and plantations. The adults measure 16 – 18 cm out of which the tail forms 50%. Their legs are tiny, slim, and have five fingers. They live solitarily and only seek a partner during the mating season. They are ovoviviparous; females give birth to 2 - 4 babies after three months of pregnancy. They are kept as pets in vivariums.

Humboldt's hog-nosed skunk

Humboldt's hog-nosed skunk (Conepatus humboldtii), also known as the Patagonian hog-nosed skunk, is a type of hog-nosed skunk indigenous to the open grassy areas in the Patagonian regions of South Argentina. It belongs to the order Carnivora and the family Mephitidae.

Noronha skink

The Noronha skink (Trachylepis atlantica) is a species of skink from the island of Fernando de Noronha off northeastern Brazil. It is covered with dark and light spots on the upperparts and is usually about 7 to 10 cm (3 to 4 in) in length. The tail is long and muscular, but breaks off easily. Very common throughout Fernando de Noronha, it is an opportunistic feeder, eating both insects and plant material, including nectar from the Erythrina velutina tree, as well as other material ranging from cookie crumbs to eggs of its own species. Introduced predators such as feral cats prey on it and several parasitic worms infect it.

Perhaps seen by Amerigo Vespucci in 1503, it was first formally described in 1839. Its subsequent taxonomic history has been complex, riddled with confusion with Trachylepis maculata and other species, homonyms, and other problems. The species is classified in the otherwise mostly African genus Trachylepis and is thought to have reached its island from Africa by rafting. The enigmatic Trachylepis tschudii, supposedly from Peru, may well be the same species.


Oligosoma is a genus of small to medium-sized skinks (family Scincidae) found only in New Zealand as well as Norfolk and Lord Howe islands. Oligosoma belongs to the Eugongylus group of genera in the subfamily Lygosominae; the Australian genus Bassiana appears to be fairly closely related.

Pedra Branca skink

Carinascincus palfreymani, known commonly as Palfreyman's window-eyed skink, the Pedra Branca cool-skink, the Pedra Branca skink, or the red-throated skink, is a species of skink in the family Scincidae. The species is endemic to Australia, and is restricted to the windswept Pedra Branca, an island off southern Tasmania of only 2.5 ha (6.2 acres), where it is dependent on the seabird colonies. It is the only lizard species found on the island.

Plestiodon fasciatus

The (American) five-lined skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) is a species of lizard in the family Scincidae. The species is endemic to North America. It is one of the most common lizards in the eastern U.S. and one of the seven native species of lizards in Canada.


Showtek is a Dutch electronic dance music duo consisting of two brothers from Eindhoven, Sjoerd (born April 6, 1984) and Wouter Janssen (born August 30, 1982). The duo regularly manages to reach the top of multiple music charts and work with artists such as Tiësto, Chris Brown and David Guetta. Showtek was ranked 17th in the Top 100 DJs list of 2014 but by the magazine's 2016 list, they had dropped to 96th. The brothers, who have been musically active since 2001, also offer podcasts on their own radio show on the music streaming service iTunes.

Solomon Islands skink

The Solomon Islands skink (Corucia zebrata), also known as prehensile-tailed skink, monkey-tailed skink, giant skink, zebra skink, and monkey skink, is an arboreal species of skink endemic to the Solomon Islands archipelago. It is the largest known extant species of skink.

The Solomon Islands skink is completely herbivorous, eating many different fruits and vegetables including the pothos plant. It is one of the few species of reptile known to function within a social group or circulus. Both male and female specimens are known to be territorial and often hostile towards members not a part of their family group.

Corucia is a monotypic genus, containing a single species. However, in 1997 it was determined that there are two subspecies of the Solomon Islands skink: the common monkey-tailed skink (Corucia zebrata zebrata) and the northern monkey-tailed skink (Corucia zebrata alfredschmidti). Among other variances, the northern skink is smaller and has darker eyes with a black sclera.

Extensive logging is a serious threat to the survival of this species. Consumption for food by indigenous Solomon Islanders and excessive pet trade exports have affected wild populations. Export of this species from the Solomon Islands is now restricted and the animal is protected under CITES appendix II.

Tiliqua rugosa

Tiliqua rugosa is a short-tailed, slow moving species of blue-tongued skink found in Australia. Three of the four recognised subspecies are found only in Western Australia, where they are known collectively by the common name bobtail. The name shingleback is also used, especially for T. rugosa asper, the only subspecies native to eastern Australia.

T. rugosa has a heavily armoured body and can be found in various colours, ranging from dark brown to cream. It has a short, wide, stumpy tail that resembles its head and may confuse predators. The tail also contains fat reserves, which are drawn upon during brumation in winter. This skink is an omnivore; it eats snails and plants and spends much of its time browsing through vegetation for food. It is often seen sunning on roadsides or other paved areas.

Apart from bobtail and shingleback, a variety of other common names are used, including stump-tailed skink, bogeye, pinecone lizard and sleepy lizard. Aboriginal names include Yoorn in Nyungar language.

Tiliqua scincoides

Tiliqua scincoides (common blue-tongued skink, common bluetongue) is a species of skink in the genus Tiliqua. It is native to Australia as well as to the Tanimbar and Babar Islands in the Maluku Province of Indonesia.


Trachylepis is a skink genus in the subfamily Lygosominae found mainly in Africa. Its members were formerly included in the "wastebin taxon" Mabuya, and for some time in Euprepis. As defined today, Trachylepis contains the clade of Afro-Malagasy mabuyas. The genus also contains a species from the Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha, T. atlantica, and may occur in mainland South America with Trachylepis tschudii and Trachylepis maculata, both poorly known and enigmatic. The ancestors of T. atlantica are believed to have rafted across the Atlantic from Africa during the last 9 million years.The generic name Trachylepis literally means "rough-scaled", referring to the fact that most of the species, though superficially smooth-scaled, have three or more slight longitudinal keels on their dorsal scales.

Western skink

The western skink (Plestiodon skiltonianus) is a species of small, smooth-scaled lizard with relatively small limbs. It measures about 100 to 210 mm (about 4 to 8.25 inches) in total length (body + tail). It is one of five species of lizards in Canada. They spend much of their day basking in the sun. Their diet ranges widely, including spiders and beetles. Western skinks will bite if grasped and will flee if they feel threatened.

It is a common but secretive species whose range extends throughout Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming and into western Montana and northern Arizona and Missouri. They can also live in some areas of Texas It is widespread in northern California but primarily restricted to the coast in central and southern California. Found in a variety of habitats, this lizard is most common in early successional stages or open areas of late successional stages. Heavy brush and densely forested areas are generally avoided. Western skinks are found from sea level to at least 2,130 m (7,000 ft). This diurnal reptile is active during the warm seasons.


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