Broad-headed Skink Plestiodon laticeps (Schneider, 1801)  
Kingdom Animalia   >   Phylum Chordata   >   Class Reptilia   >   Order Squamata   >   Family Scincidae   >   Genus Plestiodon   


Broad-headed Skink (Plestiodon laticeps) is the largest skink species in Maryland, and the second largest in North America. This lizard is closely-related to Common Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus), and care should be taken to distinguish the two. Broad-headed occurs primarily in wooded habitats, and is notably arboreal, unlike Common Five-lined Skink, which is primarily terrestrial. This skink seems to favor trees in drier hillside microhabitats, including well-drained sandy ridges. It can be rather difficult to observe due to the strongly arboreal habits (Conant & Collins, 1998; Maryland DNR site). This species is mostly restricted to the coastal plain, but also ranges up the Potomac River Valley.


The most reliable method to separate Broad-headed from Common Five-lined Skink is to count facial scales. Close-up head shots can sometimes be used to ID confidently to species. Broad-headed show five labial scales anterior to the subocular scale on the face, and lacks postlabial scales in front of the ear canal. Common Five-lined shows four labial scales anterior to the subocular, and two postlabial scales (Conant & Collins, 1998).

There are 48 records in the project database.

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A Broad-headed Skink in Calvert Co., Maryland (5/5/2012). Photo by Richard Orr. (MBP list)

A Broad-headed Skink in Calvert Co., Maryland (5/31/2018). Photo by Ben Springer. (MBP list)

A Broad-headed Skink in Montgomery Co., Maryland (5/2/2011). Photo by R. Child. (MBP list)

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