Ground Skink

Order:  Squamata (scaled reptiles)
Suborder:  Lacertilia (=Sauria) (lizards)
Family:  Scincidae (skinks)
Genus:  Scincella (ground skinks)
Also known as:  little brown skink

Scientific Name:  Scincella lateralis (Say, 1823)

Habitat:  Open woodland, fields, suburbs; anywhere with plenty of ground cover.

Scincus="lizard/skink," ella="little," lateralis="of the side" (stripes)

Length: To just over 5 inches total. Former Scientific Names:  Lygosoma laterale, Scincella laterale
Food:  Various small insects and arachnids. Ground Skink Range
Ground skinks can be locally abundant, but most people wouldn't even know they existed.  They are fairly secretive and spend most of their time rooting through leaf litter looking for food.  Usually the only clue of their presence is the rustling of the leaves.  These skinks are pretty low on the food chain, and serve as a plentiful prey item for many animals, including larger snakes and lizards. Ground Skink
I've observed many of these skinks in Big Thicket National Preserve in eastern Texas.  However, I the photos here are of an individual I found in my own backyard near San Antonio in February 2003.  It was brumating in a pile of bricks hidden in some tall grass.  The temperature that day was in the 40s Fahrenheit, but a few days prior it was below freezing.  I'm curious if the lizard had stayed above ground during that time, or sought a warmer hiding place.  The last half of its tail was missing.  Most lizards can lose their tails and regenerate them, although the replacement is never quite as nice as the original. Ground Skink Head
See also the ground skinks found in Oklahoma and Arkansas.