Five Lined Skinks

These five lined skinks are fairly abundant around our house. The largest one was our first skink. We caught him after finding him sunning himself on the inside of the living room window. He is an adult male, and in the picture he is grayer than normal. A few days after the picture was taken, he started to shed, revealing a much richer brown color.
These two smaller skinks came from the back yard, and show the more vibrant colors of the juvenile. They are about the same size, and share the same tank. The adult gets his own tank, because the smaller two are about "food" size for him, and they seem to eat whatever moves. The two little ones seem to coexist reasonably peacefully, although occaisionally they spar a bit when there's food around.

The smaller of the two is about 3.25 inches from nose to tail, the other is about a bit longer.

We feed them crickets, and occaisionally grasshoppers. They have voracious appetites. They will eat all of the crickets we put in the cages, until their stomachs are bloated, so we limit the number. The adult skink seems to go after the insects as if he wants to clear them out of his domain as much as for food. We have bought crickets from pet and fishing stores, but lately we've been feeding them fresh caught ones from the back yard. Sometimes the store crickets are too large for the smallest skink. Grasshoppers offer the most challenge, since they bounce all around the cage whenever the skink gets close.

Each cage has a plant light over it, and most of the time the adult just suns himself under the light. The lights are on a timer, and are on from about 6 AM to 6 PM, and they usually come out of their burrows between 6:15 and 6:30. After they warm up some, the little ones spend a fair amount of time foraging around for food, and jockeying for position under the light. Sometimes they try to climb the walls, but they can't climb glass the way that some of the bugs can. We set a stick in a corner, and sometimes they climb up and hang upside down from the screen cover. This really helped in identifying the exact species of skink.

According to Peterson's Field Guide, there are three similar skinks in our area: Broadhead, Five-Lined, and Southeastern Five-lined. We were able to rule out Broadhead, because the two five-lined species have two "postlabials", or small scales at the front edge of the side air hole. Our skinks have these postlabials, but Broadheads don't. The difference between the five lined and the the southeastern variant is the scales on the underside of the tails. The southeastern variant has uniform size scales under the tail, but in the standard five-lined, the middle row of scales under the tails is larger. We were able to check the undersides when they hang from the screen, and their middle rows of scales are about twice as wide as the rest of the rows. This means that we have the regular five lined skinks, or eumeces fasciatus.

We have since had to let the smallest one go, since the other, bigger one in the same tank consistently stole all the food.