Plestiodon skiltanianus are a common in Northern California but are quite secretive and hardly seen (2). They are roughly 16 cm long, though most of their length comes from their tail, with short legs and smooth shiny scales (1). It has three broad brown stripes with cream-colored stripes in between each pair of brown stripes (1). Tails of juveniles are bright cobalt blue but fade to gray when they become adults (1). They live in a wide variety of habitats but generally avoid dense forest (3). P. skitanianus are excellent burrowers, with females digging nest chambers to lay eggs in (2). They actively forage in dense vegetation and leaf litter for insects and insect eggs (2).
(1) Environment Canada. 2014. Management Plan for the Western Skink (Plestiodon skiltonianus) in Canada [Proposed]. Species at Risk Act Management Plan Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa. iv p. + Annex.
(2) Morey, S. (n.d.). Western Skink Plestiodon skiltonianus (pp. 1-2) (United States of America, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Interagency Wildlife Task Group) (R. Duke, Ed.). Sacramento, CA: California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
(3) Stebbins, R. C. & McGinnis, S. M. (2012). Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of California (Revised ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
(Photograph) © Alice Abela