Online Field Guide to The Reptiles and Amphibians of Arizona

Gilbert's Skink (Plestiodon gilberti) Arizona
Yavapai County, AZ

Gilbert's Skink (Plestiodon gilberti) Arizona
Yavapai Co., AZ
Gilbert's Skink (Plestiodon gilberti) Arizona
Juvenile. Arizona

 GILBERT’S SKINK  Plestiodon gilberti  

DESCRIPTION: A medium to large (up to 114 mm or 4.5″ from snout to vent), shiny lizard with a long, thick tail (when not regenerated), a stout body, and short limbs. Coloration is plain tan, cream, gray-brown, or olive. Some adults have orange-red coloration on the head. Young are dark chocolate brown with a pink tail and four light stripes that extend from the snout to the base of the tail. The scales are large, rounded, smooth, and very shiny. Its lack of dark markings distinguish this lizard from the similar looking Great Plains Skink.

DISTRIBUTION: This lizard is found in a cluster of ranges and associated drainages in west by northwestern Arizona. It is known from the Cerbat, Music, Hualapai, Aquarius, Harcuvar, Harquahala, Bradshaw, Santa Maria, and Weaver ranges. Below the slopes its range extends down the Big Sandy, Santa Maria, and Hassayampa river systems. In Arizona it is found at elevations ranging from to approximately 2,000′ to 7,500′.

HABITAT: Gilbert’s Skink inhabits a variety of communities ranging from riparian corridors within Arizona Upland Sonoran Desertscrub through Petran Montane Conifer Forest. Within these communities it occupies a variety of mesic environments ranging from low, flat, river banks to steep, well-shaded, rocky slopes.

BEHAVIOR: Active during the day. Most activity occurs under surface cover or on moist overcast days. This secretive ground-dweller shelters under logs, rocks, leaf litter, and other surface debris. When spotted it can be quite difficult to capture as it quickly slides and zigzags through the rocks and surface debris. It is capable of casting off (and regenerating) the tail. Pursuers and predators often end up with nothing but a wiggling tail.

DIET: The Gilbert’s Skink feeds on a variety of insects and spiders.  

REPRODUCTION: A clutch of 3 to 9 eggs is laid in summer. Eggs are laid in a moist underground nest.

By Thomas C. Brennan

Brennan, T. C., & A. T. Holycross. 2006. A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department. Phoenix, AZ

Brennan, T. C., & A. T. Holycross. 2005. A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Maricopa County. Arizona Game and Fish Department. Phoenix, AZ

Stebbins, R.C. 2003. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.

Gilbert's Skink (Plestiodon gilberti) Arizona Range Map


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