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Plestiodon inexpectatus (TAYLOR, 1932)

IUCN Red List - Plestiodon inexpectatus - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Scincinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Southeastern Five-lined Skink 
SynonymEumeces inexpectatus TAYLOR 1932
Eumeces inexpectatus — TAYLOR 1936: 224
Eumeces inexpectatus — CONANT & COLLINS 1991
Eumeces inexpectatus — GRIFFITH, NGO & MURPHY 2000
Eumeces inexpectatus — WHITING et al. 2003
Plestiodon inexpectatus — SCHMITZ et al. 2004
Eumeces inexpectatus — JENSEN et al. 2008: 312 
DistributionUSA (E Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia)

Type locality: Citrus county, Florida.  
TypesHolotype: KU 8232 (Univ. Kansas Museum Herpetological Coll.) 
DiagnosisDEFINITION AND Diagnosis: Eumeces inexpectatus is a medium sized skink (maximum snout-vent length 89 mm, total length 140-216 mm, hatchling total length 64 mm), with 7 or 8 upper labials; 29-36 scale rows at midbody (usually 30, 31, or 32); and subcaudal scales that are not distinctly enlarged (when tail is not regenerated). The dorsolateral stripe is on the 4th and 5th (or only 5th) scale row (counted from middorsal row). Young have a dark dorsum with light middorsal and brown dorsolateral and lateral stripes, and a bright blue tail. Colors normally fade in adult males, and some appear uniform brown with orange heads. Females retain more of the juvenile striped pattern. The presence of a midventral subcaudal scale row which is not wider than adjacent scale rows, and a middorsal stripe on the 4th and 5th scale rows distinguish this species from E. fasciatus and E. laticeps, both of which have a middorsal stripe on the 3rd and 4th scale rows and whose midventral subcaudal scale row is distinctly wider than adjacent scale rows. (Steiner 1986) 
CommentEcology: skinks and other lizards may be a reason why ticks and thus Lyme disease is less common in the southern US than in northern states. In the south, ticks seems to prefer lizards over mammals but lizards are no good reservoirs for spirochetes, the bacteria that cause Lyme disease (Ginsberg et al. 2021).

Distribution: not in Maryland (Miller 2021). 
EtymologyThe name inexpectatus probably refers to the unexpected discovery of this sibling species (which is very similar to P. fasciatus and P. laticeps). 
  • Blackburn, D.G. 1993. STANDARDIZED CRITERIA FOR THE RECOGNITION OF REPRODUCTIVE MODES IN SQUAMATE REPTILES. Herpetologica 49 (1): 118-132 - get paper here
  • BRANDLEY, MATTHEW C.; OTA, HIDETOSHI; HIKIDA, TSUTOMU; NIETO MONTES DE OCA, ADRIAN; FERIA-ORTIZ, MANUEL; GUO, XIANGUANG; WANG, YUEZHAO 2012. The phylogenetic systematics of blue-tailed skinks (Plestiodon) and the family Scincidae. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 165 (1): 163-189 - get paper here
  • Butterfield, B. P., Christy, C. C., Foster, A. R. & Vann, A. 2012. Geographic distribution: Plestiodon inexpectatus (southeastern five-lined skink). Herpetological Review 43: 619 - get paper here
  • Camper, Jeffrey D. 2019. The Reptiles of South Carolina. University of South Carolina Press, 288 pp. [review in Copeia 107 (3): 590, 2019] - get paper here
  • Conant,R. & Collins,J.T. 1991. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern/Central North America, 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin (Boston/New York), xx + 450 p.
  • Cooper, W.E., Jr. & L.J. Vitt 1987. Intraspecific and Interspecific Aggression in Lizards of the Scincid Genus Eumeces: Chemical Detection of Conspecific Sexual Competitors Herpetologica 43 (1): 7-14. - get paper here
  • Crother, B. I. (ed.) 2012. Standard Common and Current Scientific Names for North American Amphibians, Turtles, Reptiles, and Crocodilians, Seventh Edition. Herpetological Circular 39: 1-92
  • Gibbons, Whit; Judy Greene, and Tony Mills 2009. LIZARDS AND CROCODILIANS OF THE SOUTHEAST. University of Georgia Press, 240 pp.
  • Ginsberg HS, Hickling GJ, Burke RL, Ogden NH, Beati L, LeBrun RA, et al. 2021. Why Lyme disease is common in the northern US, but rare in the south: The roles of host choice, host-seeking behavior, and tick density. PLoS Biol 19(1): e3001066 - get paper here
  • GLORIOSO, BRAD. 2021. New amphibian and reptile parish records from Louisiana, USA. Herpetological Review 52 (2): 364–366.
  • Goldberg, S. R. 2017. Notes on the Testicular Cycle of Southeastern Five-lined Skinks, Plestiodon inexpectatus (Squamata: Scincidae), from North Carolina. Bull. Chicago Herp. Soc. 52: 116 - get paper here
  • Griffith, H., A. Ngo & R. W. Murphy 2000. A cladistic evaluation of the cosmopolitan genus Eumeces Wiegmann (Reptilia, Squamata, Scincidae). Russ. J. Herpetol. 7 (1): 1-16 - get paper here
  • Griffith,H. 1991. Heterochrony and evolution of sexual dimorphism in the fasciatus group of the scincid genus Eumeces. Journal of Herpetology 25 (1): 24-30 - get paper here
  • Guyer, Craig; Mark A. Bailey, and Robert H. Mount 2018. Lizards and snakes of Alabama. University of Alabama Press, 397 pp. - get paper here
  • HARRISON, CHRISTOPHER R.; MICHAEL S. PRICE & TY SMITH. 2022. Geographic distribution: PLESTIODON INEXPECTATUS (Southeastern Five-Lined Skink). USA: TEXAS: Galveston Co. Herpetological Review 53(3): 443.
  • Hromada, S J & Gienger, C M 2018. Geographic Distribution: Plestiodon inexpectatus (Southeastern Five-lined Skink). Herpetological Review 49 (3): 504 - get paper here
  • Jensen, John B.; Carlos D. Camp, Whit Gibbons, & Matt J. Elliott 2008. Amphibians and reptiles of Georgia. University of Georgia Press, 575 pp.
  • Loop, M.S. & S.A. Scoville 1972. Response of Newborn Eumeces inexpectatus to Prey-Object Extracts Herpetologica 28 (3): 254-256. - get paper here
  • Miller, R. W. 2021. Deletion of Hyla femoralis, Eretmochelys imbricata, and Plestiodon inexpectatus from the herpetofauna of Maryland. Banisteria, 54, N1-6 - get paper here
  • Mitchell, J. C. & Reay, K.K. 1999. Atlas of amphibians and reptiles in Virginia. Specialty Publication 1, VA Dept of Game and Fisheries, 122 pp. - get paper here
  • Mitchell, J. C., McDaniel, W. & McDaniel, J. 2012. Plestiodon inexpectatus (southeastern five-line skink) bifurcation. Herpetological Review 43: 650 - get paper here
  • Mitchell, J.C. 1994. The reptiles of Virginia. Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, ca. 350 pp.
  • Murphy, R.W., W.E. Cooper, Jr. & W.S. Richardson 1983. Phylogenetic Relationships of the North American Five-Lined Skinks, Genus Eumeces (Sauria: Scincidae) Herpetologica 39 (3): 200-211. - get paper here
  • Mushinsky, H.R. 1992. Natural History and Abundance of Southeastern Five-Lined Skinks, Eumeces inexpectatus, on a Periodically Burned Sandhill in Florida Herpetologica 48 (3): 307-312. - get paper here
  • Neff, Matthew 2019. Virginia Herpetological Society 2018 Annual Spring Survey, Lake Anna State Park in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Catesbeiana 39 (2): 82-96 - get paper here
  • Ober, L.D. 1969. Eumeces inexpectatus Taylor as an Island Colonizer Journal of Herpetology 3 (3/4): 181-182. - get paper here
  • Palmer, W.M. & Braswell, A.L. 1995. Reptiles of North Carolina. Univ. North Carolina Press
  • Perrill, S.A. 1980. Social Communication in Eumeces inexpectatus Journal of Herpetology 14 (2): 129-135. - get paper here
  • Reese, Robert W. 1949. The occurrence of Eumeces inexpectatus in Kentucky. Natural History Miscellanea (39): 1-2
  • Richmond, J.Q. 2006. Evolutionary basis of parallelism in North American scincid lizards. EVOLUTI ON & DEVELOPMENT 8 (6): 477–490 - get paper here
  • Rundquist, Eric M.;Collins, Joseph T. 1974. Distribution and life history notes on the southeastern five-lined skink, Eumeces inexpectatus Taylor, in Kentucky. Transactions of the Kentucky Academy of Science 35 (3-4): 79-80
  • Schmitz, Andreas; Patrick Mausfeld and Dirk Embert 2004. Molecular studies on the genus Eumeces Wiegmann, 1834: phylogenetic relationships and taxonomic implications. Hamadryad 28 (1-2): 73 – 89 - get paper here
  • Schweiger, M. 1995. Florida - herpetologische Eindrücke einer Rundreise. Elaphe 3 (3): 76-80
  • Seddon, Ryan and Matthew Klukowski. 2013. Secondary sexual coloration is related to white blood cell counts and testosterone in male southeastern Five-lined Skinks (Plestiodon inexpectatus). Amphibia-Reptilia 34 (4): 585-589 - get paper here
  • Steiner T M 1986. Eumeces inexpectatus Taylor. Southeastern five-lined skink. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles ( 385: 1-2 - get paper here
  • Stevenson, Dirk J., Christopher L. Jenkins, Kevin M. Stohlgren, John B. Jensen, David L. Bechler, Ian Deery, Daniel Duff, Sean P. Graham, Robb Herrington, Phillip Higgins, Robert V. Horan, III, Crystal Kelehear, Dylan Kelly, Kelsie Kincaid, Lance D. 2015. Significant new records of amphibians and reptiles from Georgia, USA. Herpetological Review 46 (4): 597-601 - get paper here
  • Taylor, E. H. 1936. A taxonomic study of the cosmopolitan lizards of the genus Eumeces with an account of the distribution and relationship of its species. Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull. 23 (14): 1-643 [1935] - get paper here
  • Taylor,E.H. 1932. Eumeces inexpectatus, a new American lizard of the family Scincidae. Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull. 20 (13): 251-258 - get paper here
  • Vitt, L.J. & W.E. Cooper, Jr. 1986. Skink Reproduction and Sexual Dimorphism: Eumeces fasciatus in the Southeastern United States, with Notes on Eumeces inexpectatus Journal of Herpetology 20 (1): 65-76. - get paper here
  • Whiting, A.S.; Aaron M. Bauer and Jack W. Sites, Jr. 2003. Phylogenetic relationships and limb loss in sub-Saharan African scincine lizards (Squamata: Scincidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 29 (3): 582-598 - get paper here
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