CaliforniaHerps.com

A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


African Five-lined Skink - Trachylepis Quinquetaeniata

(Lichtenstein, 1823)

(= Mabuya quinquetaeniata, = Five-lined Mabuya, = Rainbow Mabuya, = Rainbow Skink = Rainbow Rock Skink)

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Long-tailed Brush Lizard Range MapRange in California: Red







observation link





Long-tailed Brush Lizard
Adult male, St. Lucie County, Florida
African Five-lined Skink African Five-lined Skink African Five-lined Skink
Adult male, St. Lucie County, Florida Adult male, St. Lucie County, Florida Adult male, St. Lucie County, Florida
African Five-lined Skink African Five-lined Skink African Five-lined Skink
Adult female, St. Lucie County, Florida Adult male, St. Lucie County, Florida Adult male, St. Lucie County, Florida

The skinks shown above are all from the Florida population. Pictures of skinks from California can be found on iNatualist.
 
Description
 
Size
3.5. - 5.25 inches long, shout-to-vent (8.9 - 13.3 cm). Tail can be up to 1.5 times the body length.
(Powell, Conant, & Collins, 2016)

Appearance
A medium-sized stocky lizard with a cylindrical body, a pointed snout, small ear openings, moveable eyelids, round pupils, no femoral pores, and strong, well-developed legs with relatively long toes. Cycloid scales are underlaid by bony plates. Dorsal scales are almost entirely keeled, though the appearance is smooth. Ventral scales are similar to dorsals.

Coloration is variable, depending on the gender and the age.

Females and juveniles

The basic color is dark brown to black, with whitish spots along the front part of the sides and five cream to yellowish longitudinal stripes extending from the head to the tail along the back and sides - three stripes on the back, and one stripe on each side. The dorsal stripes fade sometimes, becoming indistinct on adults. The stripes gradually change to blue on the tail, with the tip of the tail completely blue. Re-generated tails are brown. The underside is white.

Adult Males

Light to dark brown above, without longitudinal stripes. The Side of the head and neck are black with a light blue stripe on the upper lip and light blue spots on the side of the neck and the upper flanks. The throat and breast and rear side of the head are black with white spots, the venter is white to bluish gray. A yellow to orange stripe is usually visible from the lips to the forelimbs, gradually fading on the sides. The tail is brownish.

Life History and Behaviors
Diurnal.
Primarily terrestrial, sometimes climbing rocks and trees. Around human habitation can be found on fences and walls.
Often seen basking in sunlight.
Diet
Omnivorous - eats mostly invertebrates, flowers, small lizards, and fruit.
Reproduction and Young
The species is oviparous. The female lays 6-10 eggs in summer. The young hatch after 61-62 days. Females may lay two clutches per season. (Siyabona Africa)
Females may guard the eggs.

Habitat
In its native habitat, found in rocky and grassland habitats, on trees, and on human structures.
In California, found in suburban neighborhoods in the San Gabriel Valley.

Range


Worldwide Distribution

Native to a large part of sub-Saharan Africa, with a relict population found recently in northern Algeria.. "Trachylepis quinquetaeniata has a wide native distribution in eastern, central, and western Africa, from Kenya through the arid sub-Saharan belt west to Senegal (Spawls et al. 2002), and has at least one non-indigenous population in Egypt (Kraus 2009)." (Krysko et al. 2010).

(Some sources show T. quinquetaeniata also present along the east coast of southern Africa, south to the cape of South Africa, but that area is not included in the description of countries where the skink is found that is included on The Reptile Database, so I have left this area off my distribution map until I can verify that the skinks in that area are T. quinquetaeniata and not a different species.)

Documented by Krysko et al. in 2010 as established in Port St. Lucie, St. Lucie County, Florida. Skinks in Florida were introduced via the pet trade from a pet dealer's former warehouse directly across the street from the researcher's study site.
An apparent population of T. quinquetaeniata has also been found in south Miami.


Distribution In California

Originally discovered in Glendora, which is in the San Gabriel Valley in eastern Lost Angeles County. As of 2/21, there are several records on iNatualist dating from 2016-2020 from eastern Los Angeles County in the San Gabriel Valley and lower San Gabriel Mountains. Some locations shown are Baldwin Park, Azusa, Glendora, and City of Industry


Origins of California Population

An established population of this species was first recorded in Glendora in eastern Los Angeles County in 2018 after being reported on iNaturalist.  (Pauly and Gavit, 2019) The species is found in the reptile trade. The skinks in the original population in Glendora are thought to be derived from skinks kept by a reptile dealer living in the neighborhood, who imported some of them from Egypt in September 2014. Other exotic reptiles have been observed roaming free in the neighborhood, too. Residents report that there was a rapid population increase of African Five-lined Skinks in the summer and fall of 2018. (Pauly and Gavit, 2019)

The origin of other skinks found the general area is not known, but they could indicate that the original population has spread rapidly.

Long-tailed Brush Lizard Range Map
Taxonomic Notes
Two subspecies are recognized of this species:

Trachylepis quinquetaeniata quinquetaeniata (Lichtenstein, 1823)
Trachylepis quinquetaeniata riggenbachi (Sternfeld, 1910)

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)

It is not evident how competition from this introduced species impacts native species, but the spread of this or any non-native species should be discouraged.

It's likely that this species will compete with native lizard species for resources, most likely Sceloporus occidentalis and Elgaria multicarinata.

"One neighborhood resident reported a decline in S. occidentalis with the increasing occurrence of T. quinquetaeniata in his backyard." (Pauly and Gavit, 2019)

Taxonomy
Family Scincidae Skinks
Genus Trachylepis Afro-Malagasy mabuyas
Species quinquetaeniata African Five-lined Skink
Subspecies Not known

 
Original Description
Lichtenstein, 1823

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Trachylepis means "rough-scaled)
Greek "trachys" = rough or stony
Greek "lepis" = scale or peel - which refers to the keeled scales
quinquetaeniata - refers to the five stripes
Latin "taenia" = band

Alternate Names
Mabuya quinquetaeniata
Five-lined Mabuya
Rainbow Mabuya
Rainbow Skink
Rainbow Rock Skink

Related or Similar California Herps
Coronado Skink - Plestiodon skiltonianus interparietalis
Skilton's Skink - Plestiodon skiltonianus skiltonianus

More Information and References
Gregory B. Pauly and Patrick D. Gavid. Geographical Distribution Note. Herpetological Review 50(1), 2019

Robert Powell, Roger Conant, and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.

The Reptile Database

iNatualist

Wickipedia

Naturserve Explorer

Krysko, K. L., S. A. Johnson, K. E. Giddens, K. H. Gielow, T. S. Lowke, W. M. Moore, E. Suarez, C. D. Thomas, A. S. Shoeslon, J. P. Burgess, C. A. Smith, and B. A. Garner. 2010. The African five-lined skink, Trachylepis quinquetaeniata (Lichtenstein 1823): a new established species in Florida. IRCF Reptiles & Amphibians 17(3):183-184

Siyabona Africa

Conservation Status

The following conservation status listings for this animal are taken from the November 2020 California "Special Animals List" and the November 2020 "State and Federally Listed Endangered and Threatened Animals of California" list, both of which are produced by multiple agencies and available here: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Data/CNDDB/Plants-and-Animals. You can check the link to see if there are more recent lists.

If no status is listed here, the animal is not included on either list. This most likely indicates that there are no serious conservation concerns for the animal. To find out more about an animal's status you can go to the NatureServe and IUCN websites to check their rankings.



Organization Status Listing  Notes
NatureServe Global Ranking
NatureServe State Ranking
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) None
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) None
California Department of Fish and Wildlife None
Bureau of Land Management None
USDA Forest Service None
IUCN


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