Lanark’s Leaping Lizards

Press Release

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

January 10, 2010

Lanark’s Leaping Lizards at MVFN’s January Lecture 


In the photo above (left) a female five-lined skink tends her nest and nine eggs. Can you spot the charismatic five-lined skink in the photo above (right)? These seldom-seen lizards share Lanark County with us. Photos courtesy Briar Howes

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists’ (MVFN) public lecture series, Biodiversity and Vital Connections for Fauna, Flora, and People, continues January 20 with the fourth presentation, “Lanark’s Leaping Lizards.” You do not need to be an expert to enjoy these lectures—just bring your curiosity and appreciation for wild nature.

Did you know we share Lanark County with lizards? In this upcoming lecture, the biodiversity spotlight will shine on Ontario’s only lizard, the five-lined skink. From its orange chin to its electric-blue tail, this 20 cm long lizard is our most charismatic reptile. Even Little Orphan Annie would be excited to learn about this leaping lizard from Dr. Briar Howes. Skink ecologist Briar Howes completed her thesis work on the five-lined skink at Queens’ University and is currently ‘Species-at-Risk’ Biologist with Parks Canada.

In Canada, skinks are found only in Ontario. The Great Lakes/St. Lawrence population is distributed from Georgian Bay to the St. Lawrence River, along the band of Canadian Shield that connects Algonquin Park to the Adirondacks. Skinks are very active predators, well-adapted for darting quickly from place to place looking for insects, worms or other invertebrates. So though you may know they are amongst us, you may not have caught sight of their smooth and shiny bodies. You must know where to look! In our area, their preferred habitat is rocky outcrops in mixed coniferous and deciduous forests, where they seek refuge from the elements and predators in rock crevices and fissures.

Curious to learn more about this secretive species-at-risk in our midst—one that takes almost two years to mature, lays eggs which are carefully tended by the female, and which may autotomize its tail to escape predators? Dr. Howes will answer your questions at MVFN’s next lecture, “Lanark’s Leaping Lizards,” Thursday, January 20 at 7:30 p.m., Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte. All are welcome ($5 fee for non-members). For further information please contact MVFN’s Program Chair Cathy Keddy at 613-257-3089.


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