formerly Eumeces septentrionalis
Prairie Skink / Scinque des Prairies
The Prairie Skink is brown with a series of light stripes that run down its back onto the
tail. Breeding males have orange on their heads. Juveniles have bright blue tails. The
Prairie Skink can grow to just over 20 cm in total length, counting the tail which can be
longer than the body.
There are no other lizards in Manitoba. The only other skinks in Canada are found in
British Columbia (Western Skink) and
southern Ontario (Five-lined Skink).
Prairie Skinks in Canada are disjunct from the main distribution in the US. In Manitoba
it is limited to a areas along the Assiniboine River. To the south, the Prairie Skink is
found in a narrow band through the US to the Gulf Coast.
In Manitoba, the Prairie Skink is limited to sandy areas along the Assiniboine River. The
soft sand allows the skink to burrow down suffficiently into the ground to overwinter
Breeding occurs in the spring and the female can lay from 5-18 eggs. The female broods the
eggs until they hatch during the summer.
The Prairie Skink is often found under rocks, boards, or in leaf litter. It is an active
hunter consuming a variety of insects and other invertebrates. If attacked, the lizard's
tail will break off at a fracture plane. The twitching tail distracts the potential
preadator while the skink escapes. A new tail is eventually re-grown.
Limited to only a small area in Manitoba and disconnected from populations to the south,
the Prairie Skink faces a number of risks. In addition, fire suppression is resulting
native prairie grasslands turning into Aspen forests, a habitat unsuitable for skinks.
Leafy Spurge, an invasive alien plant, also appears to be eliminating skink habitat. As
a result, the Prairie Skink is designated Endangered by