If you've seen a five-lined skink in Vermont, consider yourself lucky. Though much more common in warmer climates, in New England, these elusive reptiles are only found in small, specialized habitats of Vermont and Connecticut. Though they come out during the daytime hours, they are one of nature's most seldom seen reptiles here in the north. The five-lined skink is a smooth shiny lizard about five to eight inches long, with rows of tiny scales around the center of their body. Their name comes from the five yellow-toned stripes running from their nose down through their tail. Another interesting marking found on juvenile skinks is their bright blue tails. And they're fast — hence the nickname "blue-tailed swift." Over time those tails turn gray and their pattern becomes less conspicuous. Being conspicuous is not in the lizard's nature. Five-Lined SkinkThey prefer steep rocky areas with patchy tree and shrub cover, rotten logs and leaf litter. They're very fast and are quick to run for cover when a predator is near. They also have an interesting defense mechanism: If caught, they can shed their tail which has the unique ability to squirm on it's own, diverting the attention of the predator and allowing the lizard to beat a hasty retreat. Vermont is the extent of the skink's northern range and so far their populations have only been recorded in the town of West Haven. Thanks to the Nature Conservancy, the land that supports Vermont's only skink population is protected from development. In this segment we head out with a Nature Conservancy volunteer to attempt to find and videotape the elusive five-lined skink in its Vermont habitat.
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