As its name implies, the five-lined skink (Eumeces fasciatus) has five cream-colored lines extending the length of its greenish black body. Juveniles have bright blue tail tips that eventually fade to bronze with age. Five-lined skinks are broadly distributed and common in parts of their range, but rare or declining in many states. Habitat loss or degradation is a major cause of population declines, along with predation and collection for the pet trade. It is listed as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in three states in BCR 14.
Skinks use both closed and open canopy habitats, often found along edges between dense forests and shrubby or herbaceous fields. Rocks and woody material are important habitat characteristics that are used for cover, and skinks spend the majority of their time seeking refuge. Dense understory cover is important. Skinks are frequently found in disturbed areas that have been burned or logged.
Habitat Management Practices
Little guidance is available on how to best manage habitats for five-lined skinks. However, based on their habitat requirements, maintaining a diversity of early successional habitats including those dominated by grasses, forbs, shrubs, and young trees, would likely benefit this species in combination with enhancing the understory in adjacent forest stands.
Allow dead trees and woody material to decompose naturally. Leave stumps, blowovers, logs, dead standing snags, and other woody material to provide current and future nesting and foraging areas. When whole-tree chipping, fell and leave some low-quality trees.
Creating brush piles will help provide skinks and other wildlife with cover and foraging opportunities.
Gilbert, M. 2012. Under cover: wildlife of shrublands and young forest. Wildlife Management Institute, Cabot, VT. 87pp.
Mitchell, J.C., A.R. Breisch, and K.A. Buhlmann. 2006. Habitat management guidelines for amphibians and reptiles of the Northeastern United States. Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Technical Bulletin HMG-3, Montgomery, Alabama. 108pp.
PSE&G. 2011. Critical habitat/endangered species mitigation plan for PSE&G's Susquhanna-Roseland 500kV tranmission line project. PSE&G Delivery Projects and Construction, Newark, NJ. 102pp.