Neoseps (Eumeces) reynoldsi
The sand skink is endemic to the Central Florida Scrub. Indeed this four-inch-long fossorial lizard is the only surviving member of its genus and occurs nowhere else in the world except six counties in central Florida.
Sand skinks are highly adapted for life in the sand, they spend most of their time below the surface ‘swimming” through the loose sand. This smooth, scaled, shiny lizard has tiny reduced fore limbs with only one toe, and small hind limbs. The front legs fold back into small grooves in its body, giving it a snake-like, streamlined outline, which helps it swim through the sand. There are no external ear openings. Other adaptations for sand swimming include the wedge shaped head with partially countersunk jaw, and small eyes with a transparent window in its lower eyelids. These ‘clear windows’ allow the animal to see and locate prey while moving under the sand.
Typical sand skink habitat has no ground covering grasses and no trees, but contains large areas of bare sand interspersed with scattered shrubs. Sand skinks are most common in rosemary scrub, turkey oak barrens, or open areas in sand pine scrub. They leave squiggly ‘sine wave’ trails in the sand.
Because of their sand swimming behavior, sand skinks were thought to only live in open sandy areas free of roots, but recent surveys have also found them in places with dense undergrowth and a closed canopy.
Sand skinks are typically found 5-10 cm (2-4 in) below the surface where they burrow through the sand looking for beetle larvae, termites and ant lions. They “swim” up to palmetto fronds or logs to search for prey.
About 55 days after mating, females lay two eggs in the sand, usually under a log or some plant debris. Incubation takes about 45 days. Very little is known about the biology of this species.
The sand skinks habitat is being destroyed by agriculture and residential development.
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