Floridata Article

Sand Skink (Neoseps reynoldsi)

Sand skink
Sand skink

One of the most highly adapted scrub creatures, the 4" sand skink occurs nowhere in the world except six counties in central Florida. Like most members of the skink family (Scincidae), the sand skink is a smooth-scaled, shiny lizard that likes to stay out of sight. The sand skink is on the U.S. list of Threatened species. They are vulnerable to extinction because of habitat loss as more and more of the Florida scrub is cleared for development.

Sand skinks move about by "swimming" eel-like through the loose sand, where they pursue ant lions or "doodlebugs" and other subterranean invertebrates just below the surface. The "sine-wave" trails they leave in the sand are unique. Sand skinks have many specialized adaptations for sand swimming. The whole body is streamlined. Their front legs are reduced to useless vestiges with a single toe and fold tightly against the body into tiny grooves. The hind legs aren't much bigger (they have two toes). The snout is wedge-shaped and the lower jaw is countersunk into the upper. The eyes are reduced and there are no external ear openings. The rare sand skink is one of Florida's most remarkable animals!

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