Monday, August 10, 2020

Leafing Lizards

Since 2005, a population of lizards has kept me company as I read on my front porch.  They pop out of and dive back into cracks between bricks of my front pathway.  While outside their burrows, they forage frenetically through leaf litter.  Yesterday, I spotted the largest individual I had ever seen.  I managed to take some closeup photographs of this big dark brown and black lizard, one of which is reproduced below. 

Broad-Headed Skink (Plestiodon laticeps)

I formerly identified these lizards as Common Five-Lined Skinks (Plestiodon fasciatus), in part because the smaller ones have five cream-colored stripes on their backs and sides, and sometimes have bright blue tails.  However, close scrutiny of my new photographs has changed my mind.  Now I think my lizards are Broad-Headed Skinks (Plestiodon laticeps), which can sport stripes and tails similar to those of their close relative, the Common Five-Lined Skink, but tend to be considerably larger, and have five scales on their upper lips between their noses and eyes.  The main challenge in identifying these lizards has been their constant activity, vigilance, and impressive speed.  No lounge lizards they.