12 Skinks in Florida: A Wildlife Lover’s Dream

Skinks are commonly confused for snakes. The shape of their head and the zig-zag gait checks all the boxes until you notice their short lizard legs!

You’d be glad to know that most Skinks are not poisonous. In this article, you’ll read about 12 distinct native and invasive species of Skinks in Florida and their amazing qualities!

12 Species of Skinks in Florida 

#1 Bluetail Mole Skink

Bluetail Mole Skink

Scientific Name: Plestiodon egregius lividus

Adult size: 6.5 inches

Identifying Characteristics: Small, cylindrical, pinkish-brown lizards with a blue tail

that makes up half of their body length.

Lifespan: 4-7 years

Interesting fact: All Skinks can regrow their tail. The regrown tail of the Bluetail Mole Skink is salmon in color instead of blue.

Protected in Florida, Plestiodon egregius lividus is a threatened species because of loss of habitat. They usually prefer a sandy environment under rocks or oaks and scrubs. These startling lizards feed on common sand insects like spiders and roaches or washed-up vegetation debris. 

Interestingly, Bluetail Mole Skinks only use their small legs to move on sandy surfaces. When underneath the ground, they can bore and slither like a snake.

#2 Southeastern Five-lined Skink

Southeastern Five-lined Skink

Scientific Name: Plestiodon inexpectatus

Adult size: Up to 8 inches

Identifying Characteristics: Cylindrical and brown body with five light stripes that start at the nose and end at the tip of its tail.

Lifespan: 6-10 years

Interesting fact: Unlike most other skinks that prefer sandy areas, Southeastern Five-lined Skink often lives on trees!

Larger than the average skink, Plestiodon inexpectatus is found abundantly all around Florida. This lizard makes a great house pet! They prefer dense woody areas instead of sand. So if kept in an enclosure, it is advisable to provide them with enough hanging spots. 

When in the wild, Southeastern Five-lined Skink prefers large insects and manages to hunt alone. As a pet, they can additionally be fed fruits and vegetables like other home lizards.

#3 Broad-Headed Skink

Broad-Headed Skink

Scientific Name: Plestiodon laticeps

Adult size: Up to 13 inches

Identifying Characteristics: They are large brown lizards with triangular head and wide jaws. The male skink’s head turns orange during the breeding season.

Lifespan: 6-10 years

Interesting fact: This skink is one of the largest lizards found in Florida!

Commonly found in Northern Florida, Broad-Headed Skink is extraordinary in appearance and demeanor. While they are not poisonous, they can surely deliver a painful bite

Plestiodon laticeps are found in cypress tree swamps or in trees that have holes. Their big size and climbing gifts enable them to hunt large insects and small vertebrate animals as well.

#4 Florida Sand Skink

Florida Sand Skink

Scientific Name: Plestiodon reynoldsi

Adult size: Up to 5 inches

Identifying Characteristics: It is one of the smaller skinks, sandy in color, with dark stripes on both sides.

Lifespan: 3-5 years

Interesting fact: This skink can burrow and swim through the sand with remarkable ease!

Found only in Central Florida, Plestiodon reynoldsi is a threatened and vulnerable species. Their natural habitat is underneath the sandy regions of Central Florida. It prefers moist sand to burrow into and stay for long durations.

Some researchers speculate that Florida Sand Skink only has one front leg instead of two. Anyhow, this lizard’s unbelievable capacity to swim through sand doesn’t need legs!

#5 Cedar Key Mole Skink

Cedar Key Mole Skink

Scientific Name: Plestiodon egregius insularis

Adult size: Up to 6 inches

Identifying Characteristics: They have brown, scaly, and shiny skin with orange tails and lighter stripes on the sides.

Lifespan: Unknown

Interesting fact: This skink is very rare and only found in Florida’s Cedar Key islands!

A protected species, Plestiodon egregius insularis lives in burrows and sandhills near the shore. This rare skink is difficult to find even in its small natural habitat. 

Cedar Key Mole Skinks feed on small insects, crustaceans, and barren vegetation. The hatchlings are pitch black and the stripes in adults sometimes end at the shoulders. 

#6 African Five-lined Skink

African Five-lined Skink

Scientific Name: Trachylepis quinquetaeniata

Adult size: Up to 8 inches

Identifying Characteristics: They have brownish skin, metal-like shiny scales, a blue tail, five end-to-end pale stripes, and a white underside.

Lifespan: 5-10 years

Interesting fact: Now commonly spotted, this skink arrived in Florida through the international pet trade!

Trachylepis quinquetaeniata is not native to Florida. It was commonly imported as a pet. A decade ago, they were found thriving as an invasive species throughout Florida.

This lizard’s color changes with age and during different phases, according to their gender. If you’re considering this skink as a pet, it is important to feed them raw vegetables along with their natural insectivorous diet.

#7 Coal Skink (found throughout the USA)

Coal Skink

Scientific Name: Plestiodon anthracinus pluvialis

Adult size: Up to 8 inches

Identifying Characteristics: These lizards have shiny brown or black skin with dark stripes on the sides bordered by lighter stripes. 

Lifespan: Unknown

Interesting fact: Coal Skinks are considered the shyest skinks in Florida!

Not only are they shy, Plestiodon anthracinus pluvialis is even harder to find because they prefer living in humid conditions under fallen woods. They are commonly recorded escaping cameras by diving under logs of wood in streams. 

Coal Skinks feed on small and large insects and some arthropods. The most distinguishing feature of a coal skink is the absence of a lighter stripe running through the middle of the back that most other skinks of similar coloration have.

#8 Many lined Sun Skink

Many lined Sun Skink

Scientific Name: Eutropis multifasciata

Adult size: Up to 9 inches

Identifying Characteristics: The color of their skin ranges from reddish to brown and olive. It has a peculiar white throat and five to seven dark stripes.

Lifespan: Up to 8 years

Interesting fact: Many Lined Sun Skinks directly give birth to their young ones instead of laying eggs!

This is the only skink in Florida that doesn’t lay eggs and instead gives birth! Not native to Florida, this species arrived from Asia. Eutropis multifasciata prefers living in moist conditions and is commonly raised as a pet. 

As a pet, the Many Lined skinks live long, require little extra care, and don’t fall sick easily. They feed on commonly available insects and mealworms. Although friendly, these skinks are known to bite. 

#9 Ocellated Skink

Ocellated Skink

Scientific Name: Chalcides ocellatus

Adult size: Up to 12 inches

Identifying Characteristics: These lizards are brown and cylindrical, with small white spots all over their body. The white spots have black margins that give them the appearance of eyes

Lifespan: Up to 15 years

Interesting fact: This skink gets its name from the eye-like markings on its body.

Not native to Florida, this is another lizard smuggled into the USA as an exotic pet. Now an invasive species, this skink is easily found in all ranges of habitat that Florida has to offer: green and humid to sandy!

They are sturdy as pets and survive long with basic care practices. Although, they wouldn’t be called friendly. Ocellated skinks eat all varieties of insects and even small reptiles. They are great hunters!

#10 Little Brown Skink

Little Brown Skink

Scientific Name: Scincella lateralis

Adult size: Up to 5 inches

Identifying Characteristics: They are light brown with a dark brown stripe on each side of the body.

Lifespan: Up to 5 years

Interesting fact: This skink is also known as a ‘Ground Skink’ because it dwells only on the ground.

These skinks are abundant in Florida and pick humid grounds with rich substrate matter as a dwelling. Unlike other skinks in Florida, these skinks are neither good ‘sand swimmers’ nor ‘tree climbers’. They are indefinitely on the surface. Scincella lateralis is known to hibernate in cold weather

As pets, Little Brown Skinks are easy to care for. They don’t need special apparatus like other lizards and are low maintenance. They thrive on a diet rich in small insects. 

#11 Peninsula Mole Skink

Scientific Name: Plestiodon egregius onocrepis

Adult size: Up to 6 inches

Identifying Characteristics: They have a brown body and an orange tail. Yellow stripes run from both eyes until the middle length of their body.

Lifespan: Unknown

Interesting fact: Peninsula Mole Skink is native to Florida and very rare to spot.

Peninsula Mole Skinks are a protected species. Little is known about them because of their scarce numbers and ability to hide. Plestiodon egregius onocrepis prefers dry areas to live in and is known to sprawl under the sun on a sandy beach. 

This lizard feeds on small insects. They typically have an orange tail. But skinks with lavender, pink, and yellow tails have been spotted. 

#12 Northern Mole Skink

Scientific Name: Plestiodon egregius similis

Adult size: Up to 6 inches

Identifying Characteristics: They have dark skin ranging between gray and black. The color of the long tail varies from red to orange.

Lifespan: Unknown

Interesting fact: Five different types of Mole Skinks are found only in Florida!

Since this skink is not easily spotted, very little is understood about them. Their natural habitat is dry sand unlike other Mole skinks found in the region. Plestiodon egregius similis has small limbs and often burrows in the sand but cannot swim like the Florida Sand Skink. They primarily feed on insects and small animals. 


Which is the best skink to keep as a pet?

Many Lined Sun skinks and African Five-lined skinks make wonderful exotic pets. They require little space, an enclosure with just enough to fulfill their movement and climbing needs. They live for 8-10 years with low maintenance and rarely fall sick.

While being an extraordinary specimen of the wilderness beyond, these skinks are friendly and thrive on a simple insectivorous diet with some fruits and vegetables.

Does Broad Headed Skink bite?

Broad Headed Skink is non-venomous but it gives painful bites. That is why they are not recommended as pets. 

Note for the herpers

Our planet has over 11,000 species of reptiles, each extraordinary and exhilarating! We hope this article will help you distinguish one species from another and guide you better in selecting your next scaly baby. 

Most of the skinks in Florida are now surviving the destruction of habitat and are protected under State and National laws. It is important to ensure that your future pet is as happy with you as you want them to be!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *