Skinks are an unusual-looking creature that is often misidentified as a snake. Even though they do resemble a snake, thanks to their long slender bodies, these animals are actually lizards. There are at least 13 different species of skinks in Florida, some of them are native, while others are invasive. Keep reading to learn more about these fascinating animals.
13 Skinks in Florida
Skinks typically have smooth skin that isn’t slimy. Their legs are short and sometimes hard to see, which makes it appear like these animals are slithering along the surface on their bellies. These lizards are usually more active during the day and live on insects.
1. Florida Keys Mole Skink
Scientific Name: Plestiodon egregius egregius
As its name suggests, the Florida Keys mole skink is found in the Florida Keys, and is another protected species. It can reach lengths of up to 6 inches and has a brown-colored body with yellowish stripes and a reddish tail that is striped in black.
2. Bluetail Mole Skink
Scientific Name: Plestiodon egregius lividus
Found in the highland ridge region of the state, the Bluetail mole skink is a protected lizard that can grow up to 6 ½ inches long. Its body is brown, but its tail is a vibrant blue color, thus the name. The tail of some bluetail mole skinks, however, will change to a salmon pink overtime. This species is listed as threatened in Florida.
3. Common Five-Lined Skink
Scientific Name: Plestiodon fasciatus
The common five-lined skink is found throughout much of the peninsula of Florida, as well as in its panhandle. It is native to North America and is actually one of the most common lizard species in the eastern part of the United States. This species of skink can grow up to 8 inches long with a light or dark brown body.
4. Southeastern Five-Lined Skink
Scientific Name: Plestiodon inexpectatus
This skink can be found throughout the entire state of Florida. It measures about 8 inches long and has a brown body that is lined with lighter stripes.
These stripes start at the skink’s nose and extend all the way to its tail. The southeastern five-lined skink thrives in wooded areas and is found on the ground and even on trees.
5. Florida Sand Skink
Scientific Name: Plestiodon reynoldsi
The Florida sand skink is native to the state but is a rare sight. This is because the species has adapted to living underground in the sandy soils of central Florida.
It is smaller than most of the other skink species on our list, measuring about 5 inches long. Its body is tan to gray with a silvery sheen.
6. Broadhead Skink
Scientific Name: Plestiodon laticeps
As its name alludes to, the broadhead skink has wide jaws, which gives its head a triangular-shape. This skink can reach up to 13 inches long and is actually the largest skink found in Florida. These skinks seem to prefer trees that have holes, and are often found in oak and pine woods, as well as swamps filled with cypress trees,
7. Peninsula Mole Skink
Scientific Name: Plestiodon egregius onocrepis
The Peninsula mole skink loves dry areas and is often found in the coastal dunes along the Florida peninsula. It has a brown body that can grow up to 6 inches long and is lined with yellow stripes. These stripes start at the nose, run over each eye, and along its entire body to the tip of its tail, which can be pale blue, red, or pink.
8. Ocellated Skink
Scientific Name: Chalcides ocellatus
The Ocellated skink is found in southern Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Malta, Israel, Africa, Sri Lanka, India, and Pakistan. It is not native to Florida, but that hasn’t stopped this skink species from making its way to the state, thanks to the exotic pet industry.
They can grow between 6 and 12 inches long and prefer arid areas. Ocellated skinks are named because of ocelli pattern of white spots with a black border.
9. Cedar Key Mole Skink
Scientific Name: Plestiodon egregius insularis
This mole skink is a protected species. It features a deep orange tail that has lighter-colored stripes that run the entire length of its over 6 inch long body. The Cedar Key mole skink is found on the Seahorse and the Cedar Keys.
10. Ground Skink
Scientific Name: Scincella lateralis
The Ground skink is a small lizard that measures no more than 5 inches long. It is found throughout the state and has a light brown body. Each side of this skink’s body is lined with a darker brown stripe that goes all the way down to its brownish or dark blue tail.
11. African Five-Lined Skink
Scientific Name: Trachylepis quinquetaeniata
The African five-lined skink is not native to Florida, and is often known as the rainbow skink. This new species was discovered by some students from the University of Florida doing research in the field near where an old reptile shop had once been. The students discovered many specimens running around, under rocks and boards, and seemingly thriving.
They can grow to almost 8 inches long and their coloring can vary depending on the age and gender of the skink. One way to identify this species is that their scales have a glossy sheen and a metallic-like reflection.
12. Coal Skink
Scientific Name: Plestiodon anthracinus
Coal skinks measure about 8 inches long and have a brown or tan colored body that is lined with four lighter-colored stripes that run down to the tip of its tail. These skinks prefer moist and humid habitats with an abundance of loose stones or leaf litter. Look for southern coal skinks them in the western regions of the Florida panhandle only, they aren’t present in the peninsula.
13. Many-Lined Sun Skink
Scientific Name: Eutropis multifasciata
The Many-lined sun skink is another introduced skink species that isn’t native to Florida. This lizard was first sighted in Hawaii in the early 1990s, but has since spread to various other regions. It is believed that this skink hitched a ride on some cargo and made its way to the States.