Photo of the Week – May 25, 2012

This little prairie skink was a little too slow getting under cover as I walked past him in the prairie yesterday.  As a result, he suffered the indignity of being transported back to our field headquarters where he was placed in a cardboard box for a short period while I photographed him.  (I let him go again as soon as I got a couple good shots.) 

From the looks of things, it wasn’t the first time he’d been a little slow.  He was missing his tail – a sign that he’d run into trouble recently.  (Skinks can abandon their tail to avoid predation, and then grow another one.  A nifty little trick!)

A prairie skink. The Nature Conservancy’s Platte River Prairies, Nebraska.


From this angle you can really see the orange coloring of the jaw. Male skinks get this coloration during the breeding season. You can also see the external ear – one of the characteristics that helps distinguish lizards from snakes (legs, of course, are another pretty good clue, though not all lizards have them.)


About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.
This entry was posted in General, Prairie Animals, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Photo of the Week – May 25, 2012

  1. Ernest Ochsner says:

    So you’re telling us the guys wear the lipstick in the skink world. Cute little fella isn’t he.

  2. Martha says:

    I never want to be a snake handler, but I’m fascinated by them. Thanks for the up close introduction to your skink friend.

  3. Annette says:

    He’s so cute! I remember trying to catch them growing up near Ravenna NE. poor things drop their tails at the drop of a hat.
    Ya know…. I don’t think I ever did catch one.
    I remember their wiggling tails. :'(


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