Common Five-lined Skinks (CFLS)
Most campers are familiar with Pinery’s Snapping and Painted Turtles and many of our snakes – just as many people people come to the Visitor Centre to ask where to find an Eastern Hog-nosed Snake as those asking how to avoid them! – but it still comes as a surprise to some that Pinery counts a lizard amongst the reptiles in the park. The common Five-lined Skink is Ontario’s only lizard species, and Pinery’s dry, sandy soils and coarse woody debris make the perfect habitat for this burrowing reptile.
Common Five-lined Skink adults grow to be about 12-20 centimetres long, are brown or black in colour, and have (unsurprisingly) five white or yellowish stripes running down their backs and sides. The males have orange jaws that turn reddish during breeding season. Most people, however, spot skinks at the juvenile stage, partly thanks to their eye-catching metallic-blue tails. These tails are an important part of a young skink’s defense strategy. Should a predator spot them, chances are good that it will aim for the skink’s bright blue tail, which may break off if grasped, allowing the lucky skink to escape to safety while the predator is distracted with the wriggling tail fragment. Skinks are able to re-grow lost tails, although never quite as long as they were originally.
Skinks are active during the day, and spend their time looking for insects and spiders to eat or basking in the sun. They are very skittish and can move very quickly, so when you see one, watch quietly, and you may get a good look at one of these small jewel-like animals.
The skinks that live in Pinery are part of a population that is designated Endangered in Ontario; the Endangered Species Act and other provincial and federal legislation protect the species to aid in their recovery. Please join us in working to protect and recover this important component of Ontario’s biodiversity by reporting any sightings to staff at the Visitor Centre – it is our hope to greatly increase our understanding of this species this year through focused survey efforts and we need your sightings. You can also protect them by respecting their habitat, staying on designated trails, and reducing your speed and being an alert driver when travelling by car or bicycle in the park and beyond.
Article from 2014 Pinery Tabloid
Download CFLS information card
Five-lined Skink Habitat Stewardship Project
The Friends of Pinery Park (FOPP) is supporting a Five-lined Skink Habitat Stewardship Project over the next two years with grant funding from the Species at Risk Stewardship Foundation (SARSF)
Additional funding provided by Tallgrass Ontario
The Friends of Pinery Park will work in partnership with other agencies, Non Government Organizations, and private landowners to address knowledge gaps and enhance habitat for Common Five-lined Skink (CFLS) in the Grand Bend to Port Franks corridor. The population is poorly studied beyond Pinery and natural habitat availability is believed to be a limiting factor. This project will increase the availability of artificial cover objects, increase species awareness and increase reporting.
The Project will be conducted in a manner to avoid or minimize adverse effects on species at risk, their habitats, other species and the surrounding landscape. Jaclyn Prisciak, the project technician, will be working with Dr. Stephen Hecnar, a leading researcher from Lakehead University, and his graduate student, Daniel Brazeau, who have been conducting field work at Point Pelee over the past two decades and more recently at Rondeau Provincial Park.
Goal 1: To assess Common Five-lined Skink (CFLS) habitats for occupancy and to increase available refuge cover objects for CFLS life processes, thereby maintaining or increasing population abundance;
Goal 2: To build on existing local partnerships and increase local awareness of CFLS habitat and life processes; and
Goal 3: To increase species occurrence reporting in the Grand Bend-Port Franks corridor to inform management plans, stewardship activities, CFLS habitat regulation (ESA 2007) and support the MNR-Aylmer District’s CFLS Regulated Habitat mapping project.
Objective 1: Assess potential habitats on the ground identified in existing reports and mapping, and on properties confirmed as potential habitat, place artificial cover objects that will be monitored to establish CFLS presence/absence.
Objective 2: Complete initial CFLS habitat suitability assessments at all identified properties to provide pilot data to develop a subsequent research project to determine local distribution, habitat selection and status of CFLS. Pinery is one of few existing CFLS populations; however its status is unknown.
Objective 3: Monitor cover objects to determine CFLS presence/absence.
Objective 4: Increase awareness of CFLS biology, and habitat requirements through presentations (e.g., Natural Heritage Education (NHE) at Pinery, ABCA’s Turtle outreach event), website presence on The Friends of Pinery Park and partner websites, outreach presentations to local residential associations & special events, Social Media & articles in the Pinery 2014 & 2015 Information Guide.
Objective 5: Reprint and distribute CFLS information cards (previously designed by Pinery and ABCA staff)
Download CFLS information card
Objective 6: Undertake a local mailing requesting observations and photos