In this intriguing article, the reader will get a comprehensive guide to the two types of skinks found in Wyoming. Skinks are often misunderstood as snakes due to their physical appearance and behavior, but they are indeed lizards. The article provides details about the Great Plains Skink, such as its identifying characteristics, habitat, and aggressive nature when threatened. Additionally, it introduces the Many-Lined Skink and its unique features, including its defensive strategy of dropping its tail to escape predators. The article offers valuable information for those interested in identifying these fascinating creatures found in Wyoming.
Skinks in Wyoming
Skinks are a fascinating group of reptiles that can be found in various habitats across the world. In Wyoming, there are two main types of skinks that can be found – the Great Plains Skink and the Many-Lined Skink. These skinks are often misunderstood and mistaken for snakes due to their appearance and behavior. However, they are actually lizards and have unique characteristics that set them apart.
Types of skinks in Wyoming
Wyoming is home to two types of skinks – the Great Plains Skink (Plestiodon obsoletus) and the Many-Lined Skink (Plestiodon multivirgatus). While they both belong to the skink family, they have distinct identifying characteristics and can be found in different habitats within the state.
Misunderstandings about skinks
Skinks are often mistaken for snakes due to their limbless appearance and ability to move in a snake-like manner. However, skinks are actually lizards and have small, often hidden limbs. This can be a source of confusion for those unfamiliar with these reptiles. Additionally, skinks are known to hide under debris and rocks, just like snakes, further adding to the confusion. It is important to understand that skinks are harmless and play an important role in the ecosystem.
Skinks as lizards or snakes
While skinks may resemble snakes in some ways, they are indeed lizards. Skinks have several characteristic features that differentiate them from snakes. Firstly, skinks have eyelids, while snakes lack eyelids and instead have a clear scale called a spectacle. Secondly, skinks have external ears, whereas snakes do not have any visible ears. Finally, skinks have small, often hidden limbs, while snakes are completely limbless. These distinguishing features clearly place skinks within the lizard family.
Great Plains Skink
The Great Plains Skink, scientifically known as Plestiodon obsoletus, is one of the skinks found in Wyoming. This skink species has unique identifying characteristics that help differentiate it from other reptiles.
Adult Great Plains Skinks can grow up to 13 inches in length. They have a diverse range of colorings, ranging from light gray or olive to tan, with darker brown markings. One distinguishing feature of Great Plains Skinks is their tails and feet, which are usually pale yellow or orange. The belly of these skinks is often marked with salmon-colored patterns. Younger individuals of this species are black with an iridescent blue tail and gold spots on their heads.
Habitat and Behavior
Great Plains Skinks in Wyoming can primarily be found in prairie grasslands with open, low-growing plants. However, they may also inhabit woodland or semi-arid desert areas in the region. These skinks are known to be quite aggressive when threatened and will often hide under rocks, shrubs, or logs to protect themselves. It is important to approach these skinks with caution, as they are capable of biting if disturbed or handled.
Diet and Predators
Great Plains Skinks are aggressive hunters and have a diverse diet. They primarily feed on insects, such as beetles, crickets, and grasshoppers. They also consume other small invertebrates, including snails and spiders. Additionally, Great Plains Skinks have been known to prey on smaller lizards, displaying their carnivorous nature. As for predators of these skinks, larger snakes, birds of prey, and mammals such as foxes and raccoons may pose a threat to them.
The Many-Lined Skink, scientifically known as Plestiodon multivirgatus, is another skink species found in Wyoming. This species has its own set of identifying characteristics and interesting behaviors.
Adult Many-Lined Skinks can grow up to 7.5 inches in length. One unique feature of this skink species is its tail, which is much longer than its body compared to other skinks. The tail is approximately 1 to 1.5 times the length of the body. Many-Lined Skinks have light and dark stripes that run the length of their bodies, providing them with distinct markings. During the breeding season, male Many-Lined Skinks may develop orange or red lips as a display of their reproductive readiness.
Many-Lined Skinks in Wyoming prefer habitats with water or moist soil. They can be found in various environments, ranging from mountain areas to vacant lots and even city dumps. These adaptable skinks have managed to thrive in different locations within the state.
The primary food source for Many-Lined Skinks is ant larvae. They are known to feed on various species of ants and their larvae, as well as other small insects. This diet makes them an important component of the ecosystem, as they help control ant populations.
There are two known subspecies of the Many-Lined Skink in Wyoming. The Northern Many-Lined Skink (Plestiodon multivirgatus multivirgatus) generally has more well-defined stripes and is predominantly gray and black in color. On the other hand, the Variable Skink (Plestiodon multivirgatus epipleurotus) comes in a variety of colors and patterns. These subspecies have distinct ranges within Wyoming, and some scientists even consider them to be separate species due to the variations in appearance.
Field Guide for Identifying Skinks
To aid in the identification of skinks in Wyoming, the Peterson Field Guides to Western Reptiles and Amphibians can be a valuable resource. This field guide provides detailed information and illustrations that can help enthusiasts and researchers accurately identify different species of skinks, including the Great Plains Skink and the Many-Lined Skink. The guide covers various aspects, from physical characteristics to habitat preferences, making it an essential tool for anyone interested in studying or observing skinks in Wyoming.
Additional help for skink identification
For those seeking further assistance in identifying skinks in Wyoming, there are various online communities and forums dedicated to herpetology and reptile enthusiasts. These platforms allow individuals to share their observations, ask questions, and receive expert advice on skink identification. Engaging with these communities can enhance one’s knowledge and understanding of skinks in Wyoming.
Skinks are intriguing reptiles that can be found in unique habitats across Wyoming. Despite their resemblance to snakes, skinks are indeed lizards with their own set of distinctive characteristics. In Wyoming, the Great Plains Skink and the Many-Lined Skink are the two skink species that can be encountered. Each species has its own identifying features, habitat preferences, and behaviors. By educating ourselves about these fascinating creatures, we can appreciate the role they play in the ecosystem and contribute to their conservation efforts.
Have you seen these skinks in Wyoming?
Share your experiences and sightings of skinks in Wyoming in the comments below! Your observations can help contribute to the understanding and conservation of these reptiles. Let’s come together and learn more about the unique wildlife that our beautiful state of Wyoming has to offer.