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The Urban Scientist


A hip hop maven blogs on urban ecology, evolutionary biology & diversity in the sciences
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What’s this in my Backyard? A skink

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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I get this question a lot? Whenever friends some across a plant, animal, a footprint, or even a pile a poop, it’s not uncommon for me to get a text message, a phone call or even a tag on Facebook asking me to identity (or come get) this thing.  I even joked about it in an interview I did with St. Louis Public Radio last year.

So after getting a query from friends back in the States (and they know I’m in Africa!) I realized that encounters with wildlife is something that people who live in and near major cities need someone to come to. For my friends, I’m that person (and I am very happy they think of me, too). Since I already blog about wildlife and urban ecology, and following the sage advice of Scott Hanselman, I’ve decided to answer those questions here.

M. Lowery of O’Fallon, Missouri (a suburban outside of St. Louis city) sent me this photo of this:

photo courtesy of M. Lowery

It was a little fella, she found him in her bedroom.  Normally, she would see them living under the deck in her backyard.

It’s a skink. I can’t tell exactly what kind it is, but the common name is usually based on the number of lines it has or its color.
The Missouri Department of Conservation has a great website that helps you identify and learn more about the state wildlife.  Here is the link to Common Lizards.

I can’t tell the exact kind of skink form thr picture, but comparing your lizard to the ones in the pictures should help you identify your critter.
Is the tail peeling?  If so then it is shedding. Reptiles shed their skin when they grow.  That’s a good sign.

Her response to learning it was a skink and that it was harmless and non venomous was a big relief to her.

I’m just scared of all things smaller than me!!…lol!!  And knowing a skink eats termites………hmmm…..I may just let them continue to live under my deck since its wood!!

So glad to be of assistance. Stay tuned for more What’s this in my backyard? posts in the future.

Badaaye, from Tanzania!
DNLee
demystifying nature, letting everyone experience

And shout out to the Mitchell’s from St. Louis, Missouri, for inspiring this post. After the umpteenth FB tag and query to “name this thing I found in my yard/house/garage, I wrote this post. Todd, the husband, is who I’m referring to in the radio interview. Thanks, Todd!

DNLee About the Author: DNLee is a biologist and she studies animal behavior, mammalogy, and ecology . She uses social media, informal experiential science experiences, and draws from hip hop culture to share science with general audiences, particularly under-served groups. Follow on Twitter @DNLee5.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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