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Eumeces skiltonianus, Western skink

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 10 months ago
Eumeces skiltonianus, Western skink

 

 

Image: ucreserve.ucsc.edu

 

 

Taxonomy:

 

Kingdom - Animalia

Phylum - Chordata

Class - Reptilia

Order - Squamata

Family - Scincidae

Genus - Eumeces

Species - skiltonianus

 

 

Description:

Eumeces skiltonianus', Western skink, most notable feature would be its bright blue tail although it is not as prominent in every skink.  The tale can be up to twice as long as its own body length.  This tail usually is brighter in while at a juvenile age and can fade as the lizard gets older.  A bright blue tale is thought to be an attractant for predators.  Once a predator grabs the bright tail the skink will have better chances of getting away with only the loss of its tail.  The scales of the Western skink are small and smooth giving it a very shiny look.  Body sizes can range from 3 inches up to 8 inches.  The shape of its body is very sleek and slender for its overall length.  Along the top a think brown band runs along the back and is usually brown to tan in color.  Below this on each side is a stripe running the same length and is a white cream color or tan to even golden.  These lizards have been recorded to live up to nine years.

 

 

Distribution:

The area which Eumeces skiltonianus are distributed through contains the Rocky Mountains and everything to the west.  The most northern extent of their distribution is the southwestern corner of Canada.  Following the coastline further to the south you can find the western skink reach all the way down to California where they occupy the Baja peninsula.

 

 

Distribution of Eumeces skiltonianus in Idaho

http://imnh.isu.edu/digitalatlas/

 

Habitat:

The types of terrain that it lives in range from deserts and canyons to open forested areas.  They tend to find elevated land favoring hillsides with plenty ground debris for cover but can survive in a variety of low to high elevations.  These lizards find homes in and under rocks also creating burrows for nests.

 

 

Diet:

A skink's diet consists of mosly small insects such as beetles and grasshoppers.  They are active predators and use quick movements and speed to catch their prey.

 

 

Reproduction:

During breeding a male's throat will sometimes turn orange as a mating display and is the only time you can tell males and females apart.  This is true for both juveniles and adults.

 

The active breeding age consits of the years between 3 and 6.  Males and females do not live together but the female is known to protect their young until they are old enough to leave the nest site.  A female lays one clutch a year in the late summer and early fall.  A clutch will consist of 2-6 eggs and the eggs range in sized from 15mm to 17mm.  When hatched the juveniles measure 25mm to 26mm.

 

 

Scientific Study:

The authors of the article looked into the movement patterns between habitats for the Eumeces skiltonianus (Western Skink) and the Elgaria coerulea (Nothern Alligator Lizard).  They wanted to find what the characteristics for summer habitats were and also the distance these lizards migrate between summer and winter habitats.  Since I am focusing on the Western skink I will only present those findings.   The study took place in the summers of 1996 through 1998 in Creston, British Columbia.  Using mark-recapture techniques they tagged the lizards with PIT-tags to keep track of the lizard.  When captured the information that was recorded consisted of current temperatures and locations of nearest cover.  After examining the results they determined that there was not a great movement between winter and summering areas.  The lizards were all caught relatively close to each other in both seasons.  As for characteristics for summering habitats they found that the lizards stay close to cover using low shrubs and rocks to quickly hide from predators, always staying around 2 meters or so from cover.  In concluding they determined that cover is important for the Western skinks survival and any removal loose rock and shrubs would be detrimental to the species.

 

 

 

References -

 

Cossel, John.  Eumeces skiltonianus.  Digital Atlas of Idaho.  1997.  http://imnh.isu.edu/digitalatlas/bio/reptile/lacer/eusk/euskfram.htm. 

 

Manning, Laurina.    A Review of the Western Skink.  Amphibians and Reptiles of Oregon.  10 Nov 1995.  17 Mar 2001.  http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~titus/herp/documents/manning.html.

 

Nussbaum, R. , Brodie, D., Storm, R.  Family Scincidae.  Amphibians and Reptiles of the Pacific Northwest.  1983.  University Press of Idaho, Moscow ID.

 

Rutherford, P., Gregory, P.  Habitat Use and Movement Patterns of Northern Alligator Lizards (Elgaria coerulea) and Western Skinks (Eumeces skiltonianus) in Southeastern British ColumbiaJournal of Herpetology, Vol. 37, No. 1, pp. 98–106. 2003.

 

 

page by Heath Hopkins

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