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Sand skink: Neoseps reynoldsi

Taxonomic Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Scincidae
Genus/Species: Neoseps reynoldsi (widely accepted as Plestiodon reynoldsi)
Common Name: Sand skink

Listing Status

Federal Status: Threatened
FL Status: Federally-designatedThreatened
FNAI Ranks: G2/S2 (Imperiled)
IUCN Status: VU (Vulnerable)

Physical Description

The sand skink is a small, slender, grey to light brown lizard with shiny scales that can reach a length of five inches (12.7 centimeters) (Christman 1992).  Sand skinks have limbs that are greatly reduced legs with one toe on each front limb and two toes on each hind limb.  Other features of the sand skink include a wedged-shape snout, small eyes, and no external ear openings.

Life History

The sand skink is a “sand–swimming” skink that is rarely seen above ground.  The presence of this species is generally noted by the distinct waving tracks left in the sand as it “swims” just below the surface.  Sand skinks feed on ant-lions (insect that resembles a dragonfly), spiders, beetle larvae, and termites (Christman 1992). 

Little is known about the reproduction of the sand skink.  Sand skinks are active and breed between the first of March and the first of May (Telford 1959).  During nesting activity, females are difficult to find (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 1999).  Females lay one clutch of two eggs in sand, debris, or under logs, 55 days after breeding (Telford 1959, Ashton 2005).  Sand skink eggs hatch in the months of June and July (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 1999).  Sexual maturity may be reached at two years of age (Telford 1959). 

Habitat and Distribution

Sand Skink Distribution MapSand skinks are endemic to xeric habitats found along Central Florida sand ridges, and remnants of ancient coastal dunes created during events when sea levels rose and fell.  These habitats include rosemary scrub, scrubby flatwoods, sand pine and oak scrubs, and turkey oak ridge (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001).  The Florida sand skink is found only in seven Central Florida counties: Osceola, Polk, Lake, Highlands, Putnam, Orange, and Marion.

Threats:

The main threat to the sand skink is loss of habitat (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 1999).  Over two-thirds of historical xeric habitat has been altered or lost to agriculture or development in Florida (Peroni and Abrahamson 1985, Christman 1988).   

Conservation and Management

The sand skink is protected as a Threatened species by the Federal Endangered Species Act and as a Federally-designated Threatened species by Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule External Website.

Federal Recovery Plan External Website

Other Informative Links

Florida Natural Areas Inventory External Website
International Union for Conservation of Nature External Website
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Species Profile External Website
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Multi-Species Recovery Plan for South Florida External Website

 

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References

Ashton, K.G. (2005). Life History of a Fossorial Lizard, Neoseps reynoldsi. Journal of Herpetology. Vol. 39, No. 3, pp. 389-395, Lake Placid, Florida.

Christman, S.P 1988 Endemism in Florida’s interior sand pine scrub. Florida game and Freshwater Fish Commission. Nongame Wildlife Program. Final Report, Tallahassee, FL.

Christman, S.P.,1992. Sand skink, Neoseps reynoldsi (Stejneger). Pages 135-140 in P. E. Moler,   editor. Rare and Endangered Biota of Florida. Volume III.  Amphibians and reptiles.  University Press of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA.

Florida Natural Areas Inventory.  2001.  Field guide to the rare animals of Florida.  http://www.fnai.org/fieldguide/pdf/neoseps_reynoldsi.pdf External Website

Peroni, P.A. and W.G. Abrahamson. 1985.  Vegetation loss on the southern Lake Wales Ridge. Palmetto 5:6-7.

Telford, S.R., Jr. 1959. A study of the sand skink, Neoseps reynoldsi. Copeia 1959 (2):100-119.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. (1999, May 18). Sand skink. Retrieved August 3, 2011, from Multi-Species Recovery Plan for South Florida : http://www.fws.gov/verobeach/MSRPPDFs/SandSkink.pdf External Website


Image Credit Photo by Bill Turner, FWC



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