Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Broad-headed Skink

Click to enlarge
Catching butterflies for the Butterfly House, I saw a bright orange spot in a pile of flood debris.  I expected a Great Spangled Fritillary but instead found a Broad-headed Skink, (Eumeces laticeps).

Like skinks in general, Broad-heads tend to sun themselves on logs, downed timber and dilapidated buildings.  They are the most arboreal (tree climbing) of lizards and may even sleep in trees at times.  They eat insects and spiders and in turn get eaten by snakes, hawks, skunks, larger lizards and even armadillo.

Juvenile Five-lined Skink
The Broad-head name comes from their large jaws which give their head a triangular shape.  Males are usually an olive brown color with smooth scales and minimal or no lines.  Females have five lines down their body and can be confused with five-lined skinks.  This is particularly true with juveniles as both species are striped and have bright blue tails.  These tails are thought to ward off attacks from aggressive males of the species and to entice predators to strike the disposable tail (more on this next week).

Why the orange head?  In breeding season, the males develop their bright orange color, presumably as a way of attracting females.  They fight other males aggressively for the attention of the largest females which tend to lay the most eggs.  Like all other species except a biped, it is all about creating the most progeny.

A series of pictures are at herpsofarkansas.com.

3 comments:

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  2. Ohh! what a beautiful animal it would be perfect having an animal like this one at home because of the colors they have, I'd like to ask you something, Can I have an animal like this one at home?

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  3. you know is interesting how you can find amazing animals like this, in your own backyard is just a mere question that keep open your eye, and see all around you, in fact the last time I was in my backyard, I found a strange spider, I never see something like that spider.

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