Species At Risk

Common Five-lined Skink

(Plestiodon fasciatus)

Endangered (Carolinian population)
Special Concern (Southern Shield population)

Common Five-lined Skink


The Common Five-lined Skink is a small (up to 8.6 cm) black or grey coloured lizard with five cream-coloured stripes along its back and a blue tail in juveniles. The stripes and blue tail fade with age. During the breeding season, males have orange colouration around the jaws and chin.

Common Five-lined Skinks feed on insects, worms and other invertebrates. They are very agile hunters.

Action we are taking:


In North America, the Common Five-lined Skink occurs throughout hardwood forests from the Atlantic seaboard to Texas and Minnesota and from southern Ontario to the Gulf of Mexico.

In Canada, the species is limited to two distinct areas, along the southern margin of the Canadian Shield, and in the Carolinian Zone where it is found near the shores of Lakes Erie, St. Clair and Huron.


Common Five-lined Skinks like to bask on sunny rocks and logs to maintain a preferred body temperature (28-36°C). During the winter, they hibernate in crevices among rocks or buried in the soil.

There are two populations of Common Five-lined Skink in Ontario and they each occupy different types of habitat. The Southern Shield population can be found underneath rocks on open bedrock in forests. The Carolinian population can be found under woody debris in clearings with sand dunes, open forested areas, and wetlands.


The Common Five-lined Skink faces many threats to their habitat from urban sprawl and agriculture, especially in southwestern Ontario. In the Carolinian population, woody debris that Common Five-lined Skinks use for cover may be cleared from beaches for aesthetic reasons or collected for firewood. In the Canadian Shield population, the flipping of rocks (by humans or Black Bears) and removal of rocks for landscaping take away important skink habitat. Other threats include illegal collection for the pet trade and ATV’s.


The Carolinian population of the Common Five-lined Skink and its habitat are protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act.

The Southern Shield population of Common Five-lined Skink is special concern under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act.

What You Can Do to Help Common Five-lined Skink

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as the Common Five-lined Skink. The Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas collects observations of all Ontario reptiles and amphibians. Submit your observations to either of these databases at nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca/species/species_report.cfm and www.ontarionature.org/atlas. Photographs are important to help confirm the identification of species and are always helpful.
  • As with many other rare plants and animals, the Common Five-lined Skink is at risk due to the loss of natural areas including forests, wetlands and bedrock outcrops. You can help by protecting any natural areas on your property.
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • Never buy Common Five-lined Skinks that have been caught in the wild and never buy a native species of any kind that’s being sold as a pet.
  • Volunteer with a local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.
  • Private land owners have an important role to play in species recovery . You may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.
  • The Carolinian Zone of southern Ontario supports an impressive diversity of plants and wildlife, including many species at risk. Carolinian Canada Coalition is working to protect and restore the natural heritage in this important area. For more information, visit www.carolinian.org.
  • Register with the Herpetofaunal Atlas program to receive e-mail newsletters, event notifications, and other important updates about the Herpetofaunal Atlas project as it develops. Visit their website to see how you can participate and learn more about Ontario’s reptiles and amphibians. (www.ontarionature.org/herpetofaunal_atlas.html) .

Did you know?

When attacked by a potential predator, a skink’s tail can “autotomize”: spontaneously break off and thrash for several minutes, distracting the predator so the lizard can escape. The tail is able to grow back at a rate of about 6 millimetres a week.

Did you know?

The scales of the Common Five-lined Skink are un-ridged, giving it a smooth, shiny appearance.

The Endangered Species Act

Contact your local ministry office

Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.