Broad-headed Skink

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broad-headed skink
Broad-headed skink.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Lacertilia
Infraorder: Scincomorpha
Family: Scincidae
Genus: Plestiodon
Species: P. laticeps
Binomial name
Plestiodon laticeps
(Schneider, 1801)
Plestiodon laticeps distribution.png
Synonyms
  • Scincus laticeps Schneider, 1801
  • Plestiodon laticeps
    A.M.C. Duméril & Bibron, 1839
  • Eumeces laticeps Taylor, 1936
  • Plestiodon laticeps
    — Collins & Taggart, 2009 [1]

The broad-headed skink (Plestiodon laticeps) is species of lizard, endemic to North America.

Description[edit]

Together with the Great Plains skink it is the largest of the "Plestiodon skinks", growing to a total length of 15 centimetres (5.9 in) to nearly 43 centimetres (17 in).

A male broad-headed skink, illustration from Holbrook's North American Herpetology, 1842.

The broad-headed skink gets its name from the wide jaws, giving the head a triangular appearance. Adult males are brown or olive brown in color and have bright orange heads during the mating season in spring. Females have five light stripes running down the back and the tail, similar to the Five-lined Skink. Juveniles are dark brown or black and also striped and have blue tails.

Habitat[edit]

Although they do occur in urban areas, their preferred habitat is humid forest areas with abundant leaf litter, especially oak forests.

Behavior[edit]

Broad-headed skinks are the most arboreal of the North American Plestiodon. They forage on the ground, but also easily and often climb trees for shelter, to sleep, or to search for food.

Reproduction[edit]

Females typically are larger than males. The larger the female, the more eggs she will lay. Males thus often try to mate with the largest female they can find, and they sometimes engage in severe fights with other males over access to a female. The female lays between 8 and 22 eggs, which she guards and protects until they hatch in June or July. The hatchlings have a total length of 6 centimetres (2.4 in) to 8 centimetres (3.1 in).

Geographic range[edit]

Broad-headed skinks are widely distributed in the southeastern states of the United States, from the East Coast to Kansas and eastern Texas and from Ohio to the Gulf Coast.

Nonvenomous[edit]

These skinks (along with the similar Plestiodon fasciatus) are sometimes wrongly thought to be venomous.[2] Broad-headed skinks are nonvenomous.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Reptile Database. www.reptile-database.org.
  2. ^ Conant, R., & J.T. Collins. 1998. A Field Guide to Reptiles & Amphibians: Eastern and Central North America, Third Edition. Peterson Field Guides. Houghton Mifflin. Boston and New York. 640 pp. ISBN 0-395-90452-8. (Eumeces laticeps, p. 263.)

Further reading[edit]

  • Behler, J.L., and F.W. King. 1979. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Knopf. New York. 743 pp. (Eumeces laticeps, pp. 573-574 + Plates 424, 431.)
  • Conant, R. 1975. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern North America, Second Edition. Houghton Mifflin. Boston. xviii + 429 pp. ISBN 0-395-19979-4 (hardcover), ISBN 0-395-19977-8 (paperback). (Eumeces laticeps, pp. 123-124, Figures 26-27 + Plate 19 + Map 76.)
  • Schneider, J.G. 1801. Historiae Amphibiorum naturalis et literariae continens...Scincos... Frommann. Jena. vi + 364 pp. + Plates I.- II. (Scincus laticeps, pp. 189-190.)
  • Smith, H.M., and E.D. Brodie, Jr. 1982. Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Golden Press. New York. 240 pp. ISBN 0-307-13666-3. (Eumeces laticeps, pp. 76-77.)

See also[edit]

External links[edit]