Little Brown Skink (Scincella lateralis)


This is the smallest lizard species found in Arkansas. It is smooth-scaled, with a long build and short legged. Coloration of the top is bronze bordered on each side by a dark line. Sides are grayish and mottled with darker spots. Belly coloration is white to yellowish. The bottom eyelid is transparent. Both sexes and young all look similar.

While this species looks only superficially like other skink species, the shape of the frontal scale (v-shaped rather than rectangular) and absence of supranasal scales can confirm identification. Due to its small size and slick, shiny scales (which gives the impression of being "slimy"), it is sometimes misidentified as a salamander.

This species is also known as the Ground Skink or Brown-backed Skink.


This is a common species in shaded, woodland habitats. It can sometimes be found around human habitation, either in the yard or garden.

Habits and Life History

This is a secretive species, most likely to be heard scurrying through the leaf litter as it forages or attempts to escape. It will bask on occasion, but seems to avoid obvious exposure. As the name suggests, it prefers staying low to the ground and rarely climbs.

Breeding occurs throughout the spring and summer. Females will lay multiple clutches and, unlike most other skink species, does not brood the eggs.

Prey and Hunting Techniques

Insect prey is searched for actively. A Ground Skink on the prowl seems to swim through the leaf litter rather than crawl. As one might expect, only very tiny prey is consumed.

Temperament and Defense

Upon capture, this species may wiggle a bit, but seldom attempts to bite. The tricky part is catching one! They are surprisingly elusive in the leaf litter. Often only a small rustling sound gives away their position. Care must be taken when handling one since the tail is easily detached. The detached pieces will wiggle, providing a distraction to any would-be predator. Although a new tail will be regenerated, a lot of energy is required for this process and a regrown tail will always be suboptimal to the original.


This species currently holds no special status.

State Distribution and Abundance

This species occurs statewide. It is common and abundant.


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  • kaptainkory January 03, 2007, at 07:26 PM (Original Contributor)


  • Behler, J. L., and F. W. King. 1979 (1987). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. 3rd ed. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 743 pp.
  • Conant, R., and J. T. Collins. 1998. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed., Expanded. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. 616 pp.
  • Trauth, S. E., H. W. Robison, and M. V. Plummer. 2004. Amphibians and Reptiles of Arkansas. University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville. 421 pp.


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