The "blue racer lizard," not to be confused with the blue racer snake, is a common nickname for the species Eumeces fasciatus, better known as the five-lined skink. It also sometimes is referred to as a "blue-tailed racer lizard." These nicknames undoubtedly are derived from the fact that skinks are some of the fastest lizards in the world and tend to dart away quickly when encountered by humans. The name also comes from the bright blue tail sported by juvenile members of the species.
Five-lined skinks are small lizards that reach up to 8.5 inches in length. Their primary characteristic is five yellow or cream-colored stripes that run the length of their bodies from snout to tail. Juveniles have bright blue tails that usually fade to gray in adult males, although adult females have a greater chance of retaining color in the tale. One unique characteristic of this lizard is its ability to detach its tail and regrow a new one. It uses this ability to evade capture, leaving its still-wriggling tail behind to confuse a predator, while the lizard escapes to safety.
Five-lined skinks are found in North America as far north as southern Ontario in Canada and as far south as northern Florida in the United States. The range extends west as far as Wisconsin, and eastern parts of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. A subspecies, the southeastern five-lined skink, or Eumeces inexpectatus, is more limited in its range and can be found from the southern regions of Maryland, Virginia and Kentucky as far south as the Florida Keys and as far west as southeastern Louisiana.
Five-lined skinks prefer to make their habitat in moist wooded areas with plenty of places to hide as well as plenty of areas to bask in the sun. They can be found commonly in wood piles, stumps or logs, rocky areas and sometimes even abandoned buildings. In the winter, they take cover in crevices, under vegetation, inside building foundations or in rotting wood, where they remain inactive and wait out the cold.
Home Range Variations
The home range of the five-lined skink, which is the area where a skink lives and travels, is subject to change depending on a number of conditions. Availability of habitat type and shelter can affect this, as can changes in seasonal food distribution. The skink's home range also might vary according to sex, and change according to the age of the lizard.
Jean Marie Bauhaus has been writing about a wide range of topics since 2000. Her articles have appeared on a number of popular websites, and she is also the author of two urban fantasy novels. She has a Bachelor of Science in social science from Rogers State University.