Blue-tailed skinks

Spring is a time when many of our old friends – and nemeses – reappear here in Cape May County, NJ after a winter of laying dormant.  A sure sign that warmer weather is here to stay is the first sighting of the blue-tailed skink.

The blue-tailed skink is a commonly referred to name for our visitor, but more correctly and less known is that it is actually called an American five-lined skink.  It’s blue tail earns it’s moniker, although the blue-tailed skink is a native of Australia’s Christmas Island and is not found here.  Either name is accepted, especially for the juveniles.  In America, they are found from the Hudson Valley south to northern Florida and west to the Mississippi.

The blue-tailed skink has an amazing defense mechanism when threatened.  It can pop off its tail, which will continue to wiggle.  The predator is normally distracted – and somewhat mystified – by the bright blue wiggling tail and the skink uses that time to quickly head for cover.  The tail will regrow, although shorter and closely matching their brown-black body color.

We enjoy watching the skinks scurrying about our property in search of insects and worms.  They become our nemesis once they get inside one of our outbuildings and started leaving a trail of distinctive droppings.  They are about 1/8″ long, mostly brown-black with a white tip.  When we spot this calling card, we know our warm-weather visitor is around.

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