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This site was created by students in the herpetology class at Towson University.  Site last updated: 05/21/07.

Acknowledgements: Herb Harris - Range Maps;  Mark Tegges - Photography; Dan Lapascha & Gigi Forester - TU Herpetology Logo

Ground skink

(Scincella lateralis)


Ground skinks are small, smooth-scaled lizards with an adult length of 3 to 5.5 inches.  The dorsal surface is typically a copper brown with a dark dorsolateral line running along each side of the body.  The venter is light colored and unmarked.  The ground skink has a long tail, sometimes up to 2.5 times the SVL, and short limbs.




Ground skinks are most often found in moist, wooded areas.  True to their name, ground skinks are exclusively forest floor dwellers.  Their small limbs are relatively unused, as ground skinks use their slender bodies to wriggle and burrow through leaf litter and loose soil.  They prey on insects, spiders, and other earthworms.


Mating occurs in the spring, and females will lay a clutch of 1 to 7 eggs in June or July.  The eggs are laid in moist soil or decaying logs.  Newborn ground skinks are about 1.5 inches total length.  Hatching occurs in August or September, and no parental care is provided.  Females may lay up to 5 clutches in one year.   


Distribution in Maryland

Range map adapted from Harris, 1975.