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Bluetail mole skink

Eumeces egregius lividus

Listing Status

  • Federal Status: Threatened
  • FL Status: Federally-designated Threatened
  • FNAI Ranks: G4T2/S2 (Globally: Apparently Secure, Sub sp. Imperiled/State: Imperiled)
  • IUCN Status: Not ranked

Appearance

The bluetail mole skink is a small lizard that can reach five inches (12.7 centimeters) in length.  This species has a brownish body with a blue tail, which may become pink or orange when an individual gets older or when the tail is regenerated.  Bluetail mole skinks have small legs with five toes per foot, and light colored lines on its upper sides that diverge posteriorly (lines branch off from one point on the back).  Breeding males may develop orange sides in late winter (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001). 

Behavior

The diet of the bluetail mole skink primarily consists of roaches, crickets, and spiders (Christman 1992). 

Little is known about the reproduction of the bluetail mole skink.  Reproduction is thought to be similar to that of the Peninsula mole skink (E.e. onocrepis) (Mount 1963).  Females may lay three to seven eggs in a nesting cavity that is less than 11.8 inches (30 centimeters) below the surface.  Total incubation time for the eggs is 31-51 days (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 1999).  

Habitat

blue tail mole skink map

Because  bluetail mole skinks need loose sand for burrowing, they inhabit sandhill and  xeric hammocks, oak and sand pine scrubs, and turkey oak barrens in  Florida.  In Florida, bluetail mole  skinks are found in Highlands, Polk, and Osceola counties along the Lake Wales  Ridge (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001).

Threats

Habitat loss is the main threat to the bluetail mole skink (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 1999).  Xeric habitat has suffered tremendous losses due to agricultural, residential, and commercial development (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001).  The limited range of the bluetail mole skink makes it vulnerable to natural or environmental catastrophes. 

Conservation and Management

The bluetail mole 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.

Federal Recovery Plan

References

Christman, S.P.1992. Bluetail Mole Skink, Eumeces egregius lividus (Mount). Pages 117-122 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/eumeces_egregius_lividus.pdf

Mount, R.H. 1963. The natural history of the red-tailed skink, Eumeces egregius Baird. American Midland Naturalist 70:356-385.

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/southeast/vbpdfs/species/reptiles/btms.pdf 

Banner Image by Jonathan Mays