Scincella lateralis
(Say 1823)

skĭn-sĕl-lă — lă-tĕ-răl-ĭs

An adult Little Brown Skink from Miami County, Kansas. Image © Eric Kessler.
Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.

This small, slender lizard has a long tail and short legs. The background color ranges from tan to a golden or coppery brown on the head, body, and tail. They have a darker stripe along each side of the body. The belly is uniform cream to yellow.
Adults normally 75-125 mm (3-5 inches) in TL; largest specimen from Kansas: female (KU 28795) from Miami County with SVL of 57 mm and TL of 145 mm (5¼ inches) collected by I. M. Claiborne on 30 April 1950; maximum length throughout range: 5¾ inches (Conant and Collins, 1998).

Known from wooded areas along the Kansas, Marais des Cygnes, lower Neosho, Verdigris, lower Arkansas, Medicine Lodge, and Salt Fork Arkansas river drainages.

(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record)
Open icons are questionable records; Click on a marker to view details. Export Google Earth (.kml)
  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 377 Total Records 
  • 338 Museum Vouchers 
  • 39 Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Allen (2); Anderson (9); Barber (7); Bourbon (24); Chautauqua (7); Cherokee (89); Clay (1); Comanche (15); Cowley (9); Crawford (15); Douglas (29); Elk (7); Franklin (33); Geary (3); Greenwood (12); Harper (1); Jefferson (7); Johnson (2); Kingman (1); Kiowa (5); Labette (13); Leavenworth (2); Linn (11); Miami (13); Montgomery (9); Neosho (6); Osage (2); Pottawatomie (6); Pratt (1); Riley (7); Shawnee (3); Sumner (1); Unknown (4); Wabaunsee (1); Wilson (8); Woodson (11); Wyandotte (1);

Natural History:
Most often heard as it scurries among leaf litter, well before it’s ever seen. They hang out on the forest floor and, unlike other Kansas skinks, seldom climb to search for their invertebrate food or escape predators. Instead, they use their small legs and long body to quickly ‘swim’ through leaf litter, thatch, and loose soil. They are harmless and attempts to catch them often leave the collector with a wiggling piece of tail in a handful of leaves.

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.
The first records for Kiowa County were obtained recently. And additional localities have been discovered in Comanche County. Both represent the western-most populations in Kansas.

1882 Yarrow, Henry C. Check list of North American Reptilia and Batrachia with catalogue of specimens in U. S. National Museum. Bulletin of the United States National Museum (24):1-249
1911 Hurter, Julius. Herpetology of Missouri. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 20(5):59-274
1920 Taylor, Edward H. The Lizards of Kansas with Notes on Habits. Thesis. University of Kansas, Lawrence. 117pp.
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
1933 Stejneger, Leonhard and Thomas Barbour. A Checklist of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. 3rd Edition. Harvard University Press, Cambridge,Massachusetts. pp.
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. 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
1953 Schmidt, Karl P. A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. 6th Edition. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois. 280pp.
1956 Loomis, Richard B. The chigger mites of Kansas (Acarina, Trombiculidae). University of Kansas Science Bulletin 37():1195-1443
1962 Stains, Howard J. and James Ozment A record of the brown skink (Scincella laterale) and Prairie Skink (Eumeces septentrionalis) from Barber County, Kansas Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 65(2):143
1965 Fitch, Henry S. and Harry W. Greene. Breeding cycle in the ground skink, Lygosoma laterale. University of Kansas Publications Museum of Natural History 15(11):565-575
1975 Brooks, Garnett R. Scincella lateralis. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (169):1-4
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
1980 Glass, G. E., and N .A. Slade The effect of Sigmodon hispidus on spatial and temporal activity of Microtus ochrogaster: Evidence for competition Ecology 61():358-370
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.
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.
1999 Taggart, Travis W. Cherokee County fall 1999 herp count. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (117):6
2000 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2000 fall field trip. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (122):6-8
2001 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 2000. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (124):6-8
2002 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 2001. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (1):10-11
2004 Taggart, Travis W. Geographic distribution. Scincella lateralis. Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (11):13
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.
2008 Taggart, Travis W. KHS 2008 spring field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (25):2-3
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:
9/11/2018 10:59:39 AM

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