What Is a Sand Skink?

Marjorie McAtee

The sand skink is a relatively rare species of lizard native to the scrub lands of central Florida. Biologists don't know much about the sand skink, and all the other reptiles of its genus are now believed extinct. The typical sand skink is about 4 inches (10.2 centimeters) long, and is gray or brown in color. These lizards usually have very tiny legs, and they usually have just one toe on each front leg, which two toes on each hind leg. Sand skinks usually move about under the sand, using a movement pattern similar to swimming that generally leaves a wavy trail on the surface above.

The sand skink lizard is very rare, as its native habitat consists of only six counties in Florida.
The sand skink lizard is very rare, as its native habitat consists of only six counties in Florida.

The variety of skink known as a sand skink usually has a very serpentine appearance. They have evolved to live in sandy regions, and typically have special recesses on their bodies where they can tuck their miniscule front legs during locomotion. They do not normally have ear holes, and their eyes are usually also very small. These lizards generally have transparent eyelids, so that they can keep their eyes open while traveling beneath the sand. The sand skink's snout usually comes to a point, allowing it to better burrow through the sand.

This species of reptile is very rare, since its native habitat consists of only six counties in Florida, in the southern United States, and they are facing loss of habitat due to human activities. They usually lay only two eggs per season. Females usually carry their eggs within their bodies for an average of 55 days. They generally prefer to bury their eggs under a heavy object, such as a fallen tree. The eggs typically hatch about 45 days later.

They are generally most observable in spring and early summer. It is believed that they prefer a sandy habitat with little vegetation, and they usually inhabit areas where there is a lot of sand and the growth of vegetation such as sand pine or rosemary scrub is sporadic and scanty. Some specimens have been found in areas with lots of vegetation, but their habit of moving about beneath the sand's surface means that they generally need to live in a place where there are few roots extending below the soil. Sand skinks usually travel by tunneling at a depth of 2 to 4 inches (5.08 to 10.2 centimeters) beneath the surface, where they can hunt the ants, larvae, and termites they typically feed on.

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