Juveniles have five longitudinal yellowish or white stripes against a black background color and a bright blue tail. As a female matures the stripes become lighter and the tail becomes gray. The adult male is plain tan to bronze, with very pale stripes. The male has an orangish-red head and jowls, which are especially bright in the spring breeding season. A medium-sized lizard ranging from 12.5 - 21.5 cm (4.9 - 8.5 in) in total length. Because other species are similarly patterned and undergo similar color changes, it is necessary to look at scale patterns for a positive identification. Look under the base of the tail. The middle row of scales should be enlarged. There should be 26-30 longitudinal rows of scales around the center of the body. There are usually 4 labial scales anterior to the sub ocular scale. There are two enlarged postlabial scales.
Breeding takes place in the spring, and the female lays from 4 - 14 eggs in late spring or early summer. Eggs are placed under cover such as rotting logs, old stumps, or rocks. The female remains with the eggs to guard them from potential predators. The eggs hatch in one to two months. Except for a juvenile color pattern, young resemble the adults.
This lizard is active during the day and prefers open hardwood forests, forest edges, and cut-over woodlands. It especially likes areas with abundant rocks, fallen logs, or dead tree snags which provide excellent places for this lizard to bask and forage. The Five-lined Skink is probably active year round in the most southern portions of its range, where it comes out on the warmest winter days. The diet is composed of insects, spiders, snails, and even newborn mice. Predators of the Five-lined Skink include carnivorous mammals, snakes, hawks, and the Broadhead Skink.
The Five-lined Skink occurs over the eastern forested part of the United States as far northwest as Minnesota and northeast to New York, west to eastern Kansas and Texas. It can be found in suitable habitat throughout Georgia.
This is one of the most common lizards in the eastern United States.
The Broadhead Skink is much larger, has five upper labial scales in front of the subocular scale, and lacks postlabial scales. All the scales on the bottom of the tail of the Southeastern Five-lined Skink are about the same size, rather than having an enlarged middle row.