Prairie Skink

Wisconsin status: restricted in range but locally common

If you're lucky enough to get a glimpse of the prairie skink (don't you love saying the word, "skink" ), you'll notice that it has three wide tan stripes running down its back. Two fine black lines separate the tan lines. (Check out the photo.) Both sides of this skink have three heavy black lines that are separated by two thin cream or white stripes. If it’s a young skink you're looking at, you'll see seven tan stripes overlaying a blackish body with a blue-black tail.

During the breeding season, the chins, lips and throats of the male turn bright orange. Can you guess why? It puts other male skinks on notice that this is his territory and it lets female skinks know where he is. ("Hey, you, c'mon over and check out my orange throat.")

Prairie Skink Habitat Range
Prairie Skink Habitat Range

Prairie skinks like to live in open sandy areas in pine-barrens, or along sandy stream banks and sandy roadcuts. They build underground burrows that they use to escape from predators and as shelter at night. There are quite a few skinks in some locations in northwestern Wisconsin.

When it's time to eat, these critters feast on invertebrates (animals without backbones) like crickets, beetles, caterpillars, and spiders.