Broad-headed Skink

   Eumeces laticeps

Photo by John White

Description: There are three species of skinks in Tennessee that closely resemble each other and may only be told apart by close examination of the scale patterns. They are the Southeastern Five-lined Skink, Common Five-lined Skink and the Broad-headed Skink.

 

The Broad-headed skink is our largest lizard, getting 6 1/2 to 12 3/4 inches long. Large males are quite impressive during the breeding season in spring. They are olive-brown and have massive swollen jaws and an orange-red head color. 

 

The pattern and coloration of females and non-breeding males resembles that of the Common Five-lined Skink. Young Broad-headed Skinks are black with five  to seven yellow stripes and a bright blue tail.

 

Habitat: A woodland species that may also be found on abandoned urban lots that are strewn with debris.

 

Photo by John White

Life History: Breeding occurs in May and 5 to 20 eggs are laid in late June through July. Sawdust piles, under old fallen logs and under leaf litter are all used as egg laying spots. Females generally remain with the eggs until hatching.

Behavior: These lizards are the most arboreal of our skinks and may retreat up a nearby tree when threatened or disturbed.

Photo by Mike Thornton

Distribution: Statewide

Map by S. Marden, TWRA, GIS Lab

Taxonomy:

          Kingdom - Animalia

                    Phylum - Chordata

                              Subphylum - Vertebrata

                                        Class - Reptilia

                                                  Order - Squamata

                                                            Suborder - Autarchoglossa

                                                                      Family - Scincidae

                                                                                Genus - Eumeces

                                                                                          Species - Eumeces laticeps

                                                                                                    

Reference: Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).  http://www.itis.usda.gov/index.html