Ground Skink Common Five-lined Skink Eastern Fence Lizard

What are they?

Lizards are the reptile equivalent of the amphibian newts and salamanders. They have long tails, long thin bodies and four legs, but in most other ways they differ. Unlike the amphibian groups, lizards have scales (like snakes), dry skin, they move rapidly, spend their whole lives out of water (with some exceptions, but not in our area) and lay eggs with shells on them, or bear live young.


Cape May County has only two native lizards, so identifying them is not too much of a struggle. The overall shape and appearance should be adequate, though it is always wise to be wary of possible alien species which may have been accidentally or deliberately released into the wild.

Eastern Fence Lizard      Sceloporus undulatus

Length: 10.0-18.4 cm. Fence Lizards may be found throughout much of the county, but are almost always found in dry, sandy places, such as Pine Barrens woodland or coastal dunes. They vary a lot in color and markings but can readily be told from skinks by their keeled scales which give the animals a rather rough, spikey look.
Eastern Fence Lizard Eastern Fence Lizard Eastern Fence Lizard

Eastern Fence Lizard Eastern Fence Lizard
'Gravid' female

Common Five-lined Skink      Plestiodon fasciatus

Length: 12.5-21.5 cm. A rather local species but elusive so perhaps more common than it might appear. Small numbers may be found throughout the ocunty but mostly in lightly wooded areas. A typical skink, being smooth-scaled and thus shiny in appearance. Adults are light olive-brown (breeding males with a reddish head) while juveniles are striped with a blue tail.
Common Five-lined Skink Common Five-lined Skink Common Five-lined Skink Common Five-lined Skink

Ground Skink      Scincella lateralis

Length: 7.5-14.5 cm. A small and easily-overlooked inhabitant of sandy, dry, leafy woodland floors. Little-known in Cape May County but recent sight records with photographs confirm the species in at least three locations in the center of Cape May County. Perhaps overlooked due to its small size. (Photos courtesy of Sam Galick)
Ground Skink Ground Skink Ground Skink Ground Skink