Identification: This tiny lizard is more often heard than seen. Ground skinks live in and amongst the leaf litter and debris on the forest floor and can be difficult to get a good look at, as they quickly and noisily burrow into the leaves. Like Indiana’s larger skinks, these small lizards have glossy-smooth scales. Ground skinks are brown with lighter grayish sides and tail and two thin, dark lateral stripes. Importantly, adult ground skinks rarely exceed 5 in (12 cm) in length, making this Indiana’s smallest lizard.
Similar Species: Ground skinks are easily separated from Indiana’s other skink species by their small size. The largest ground skinks are the size of juvenile five-lined skinks and broad-headed skinks, which have bright blue tails and are more robust even as juveniles.
Distribution: Ground skinks are most abundant in the oak-hickory forests of south-central Indiana. Though they dwell largely in leaf litter on the forest floor, they are abundant in and around forest openings, forest edges, and along sunny trails.