Plestiodon fasciatus
(Linnaeus 1758)

plĕs-tē-ō-dŏn — făs-sē-ā-tŭs

Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.

Length in Kansas up to 7 inches. The background color is gray, brown, or black with five cream-colored stripes running from the head to the tip of the tail. Adult males often lose the stripes, take on a light brown background and, in the spring, develop an orange coloration on the head. The juveniles are always striped and have a bright blue tail. This species closely resembles the Broad-headed Skink and can usually only be differentiated by examination of the head scales and comparing size.
Adults normally 125-178 mm (5-7 inches) in TL; the largest specimen from Kansas: male (KU 288632) from Wyandotte County with unknown SVL and TL of 222 mm (8½ inches) collected by Daniel G. Murrow, James Markley, and Matt Singer on 30 April 1998; exceeds maximum length throughout range, as reported in Conant and Collins (1998).

Well documented from the forested eastern third of Kansas. Records from Ness (KU 18417-8) and Ellis (MHP 5624) counties are either introductions or misidentified specimens. The record for Sedgwick County is in need of corroboration.

(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record)
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  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 1,310 Total Records 
  • 1,251 Museum Vouchers 
  • 59 Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Allen (25); Anderson (63); Atchison (6); Bourbon (57); Brown (1); Chautauqua (6); Cherokee (321); Coffey (2); Cowley (1); Crawford (18); Doniphan (15); Douglas (331); Elk (9); Ellis (1); Franklin (95); Greenwood (5); Jackson (3); Jefferson (49); Johnson (33); Labette (9); Leavenworth (21); Linn (25); Lyon (2); Miami (81); Montgomery (26); Neosho (14); Ness (2); Osage (21); Pottawatomie (1); Riley (8); Sedgwick (2); Shawnee (7); Sumner (2); Unknown (3); Wabaunsee (2); Wilson (14); Woodson (11); Wyandotte (17);

Natural History:
They may be discovered out in the open while searching for small invertebrates to eat, but are most commonly encountered under rocks, logs, or trash. Like all other Kansas skinks (and several other lizards), their tails break off when restrained and then start twitching, which can distract a predator and allow the skink to get away.

Occurrence Activity:
White dates indicate there is at least a single recorded occurrence on that date. The darker blue a date is, the greater the relative number of observations for that date.
Cragin (1885) reports on a considerable number of specimens from Neosho Falls, presented by Col. N. S. Goss to Washburn College and the Kansas Academy of Science.

1758 Linné, Carl von (=Linneaus). Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis 10th Edition, Volume 1, L. Salvius, Stockholm. iv + 826pp.
1885 Cragin, Francis W. Recent additions to the list of Kansas reptiles and batrachians, with further notes on species previously reported. Bulletin of the Washburn College Laboratory of Natural History 1(3):100-103
1885 Cragin, Francis W. Second contribution to the herpetology of Kansas, with observations on the Kansas fauna. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 9():136-140
1920 Taylor, Edward H. The Lizards of Kansas with Notes on Habits. Thesis. University of Kansas, Lawrence. 117pp.
1925 Linsdale, Jean M. Land Vertebrates of a Limited Area in Eastern Kansas. Thesis. University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 312pp.
1927 Grant, Chapman. The Bluetail Skink of Kansas. Copeia 164():67-69
1927 Linsdale, Jean M. Amphibians and reptiles of Doniphan County, Kansas. Copeia 1927(164):75-81
1928 Burt, Charles E. Insect food of Kansas lizards with notes on feeding habits. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 1(3):50-68
1928 Burt, Charles E. Some distributional and ecological records of Kansas reptiles. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 26():186-208
1932 Gloyd, Howard K. The herpetological fauna of the Pigeon Lake Region, Miami County, Kansas. Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan 15():389-408
1932 Taylor, Edward H. Eumeces laticeps: A neglected species of skink. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 20(14):263-271
1933 Noble, G. Kingsley and E. R. Mason. Experiments on the brooding habits of the lizards Eumeces and Ophisaurus. American Museum Novitates (619):1-29
1934 Burt, Charles E. and W. L. Hoyle. Additional records of the reptiles of the central prairie region of the United States. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():193-216
1935 Burt, Charles E. Further records of the ecology and distribution of amphibians and reptiles in the middle west. American Midland Naturalist 16(3):311-366
1935 Burt, Charles E. and William L. Hoyle. Additional records of the reptiles of the central prairie region of the United States Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():193-216
1935 Taylor, Edward H. A taxonomic study of the cosmopolitan scincoid lizards of the genus Eumeces, with an account of the distribution and relationships of its species. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 23(1):1-643
1953 Schmidt, Karl P. A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. 6th Edition. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois. 280pp.
1954 Fitch, Henry S. Life history and ecology of the five-lined skink, Eumeces fasciatus. University of Kansas Publications Museum of Natural History 8(1):1-156
1956 Fitch, Henry S. A ten year old skink? Herpetologica 12(4):328
1956 Loomis, Richard B. The chigger mites of Kansas (Acarina, Trombiculidae). University of Kansas Science Bulletin 37():1195-1443
1964 Fitch, Alice V. Temerature tolerances of embryonic Eumeces. Herpetologica 20(3):184-187
1976 Caldwell, Janalee P. and Gregory. Glass. Vertebrates of the Woodson County State Fishing Lake and Game Management Area. Pages 62-76 in Preliminary inventory of the biota of Woodson County State Fishing Lake and Game Management Area. Report No. 5. State Biological Survey of Kansas, Lawrence. pp.
1977 Fitch, Henry S. and Pennie L. Von Achen. Spatial relationships and seasonality in the skinks Eumeces fasciatus and Scincella laterale in northeastern Kansas. Herpetologica 33(3):303-313
1982 Fitch, Henry S. Resources of a snake community in prairie-woodland habitat of northeastern Kansas. Pages 83-97 in Herpetological communities: A symposium of the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles and the Herpetologists League, August 1977.  Wildlife Research Reports 12. 239 pp. U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D. C. pp.
1987 Olson, R. Earl, Bertram Marx, and Robert Rome. Descriptive dentition morphology of lizards of middle and north America II: Iguanidae Bulletin of the Maryland Herpetological Society 23(1):12-34
1991 Fitch, Henry S. Reptiles and amphibians of the Kansas ecological reserves. Pages 71-74 in Multidisciplinary Guidebook 4. Kansas Academy of Science, Lawrence. pp.
1994 Fitzgerald, Eve and Charles Nilon Classification of habitats for endangered and threatened species in Wyandotte County, Kansas Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt, Kansas. 98pp.
1996 Miller, Larry L. Third graders conduct amphibian and reptile field study. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (106):15
1999 Taggart, Travis W. Cherokee County fall 1999 herp count. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (117):6
2000 Griffith, Hugh, Andre Ngo and Robert W. Murphy A cladistic evaluation of the cosmopolitan genus Eumeces Weigmann (Reptilia, Squamata, Scincidae) Russian Journal of Herpetology 7(1):1-16
2000 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2000 fall field trip. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (122):6-8
2001 Taggart, Travis W. The KHS 2001 spring field trip: A rainy rendezvous. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (124):12-14
2002 Miller, Larry L. Osage County herp count II. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):15
2003 Freeman, Craig C. A natural areas inventory of the Ft. Leavenworth Military Reservation, Leavenworth County, Kansas. II. Open-file Report No. 117. Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence, Kansas. 199pp.
2003 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2003 fall field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (8):14-15
2004 Schmitz, Andreas, Patrick Mausfeld, and Dirk Embert Molecular studies on the genus Eumeces Weigmann, 1834: Phylogenetic relationships and taxonomic implications Hamadryad 28(1-2):73-89
2005 Smith, Hobart M. Plestiodon: A replacement name for most members of the genus Eumeces in North America Journal of Kansas Herpetology (14):15-16
2005 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2005 fall field trip [to Crawford County]. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (16):19-21
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Distribution and status of Kansas herpetofauna in need of information. State Wildlife Grant T7. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. vii + 106pp.
2011 McMartin, David C. U. S. Army 2011 Fort Leavenworth Herpetofaunal Survey: 23 April - 09 May 2011. Privately printed, Leavenworth, Kansas. 33pp.
2012 Hamilton, Bryan Tyler, Rachel Hart , and Jack W. Sites Jr. Feeding Ecology of the Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum, Colubridae) in the Western United States. Journal of Herpetology 46(4):515-522
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
2016 Pittman, Galen L., Henry S. Fitch, and W. Dean Kettle Vertebrate animals on the Fitch Natural History Reservation (1948-2002) Kansas Biological Survey Report Number 188, Lawrence. 48pp.
Account Last Updated:
6/26/2018 4:54:18 PM

Travis W. Taggart © 2020 — Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University