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King George, Virginia
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June 15, 2016     The Westmoreland Journal
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June 15, 2016
 

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6 Wednesday, June 15, 2016 THE JOURNAL www.journalpress.com MARK FIKE This month's wildlife focus is on the five lined skink, also known as Plestiodon fascia- tus. The five lined skink is a very common sight in Virginia and its range extends up to and including parts of eastern New York state and west to include parts of east Texas. This lizard averages 5-6 inches but can grow to a whopping 9 inches in length. I wish I had my camera with me earlier this past week. I saw one on a pile of lumber that was right at 9 inches and may have been longer. Its head was much like a triangle and he was clearly the boss lizard on my property. When he ran I could hear him very clearly clawing the wood. The average skink is five lined, smooth scaled and blue to brownish linedalternat- ed with cream colored lines. The lines go from the head area out to the tail. Juvenile skinks have a bright blue tail. The bright blue tail serves a purpose to distract preda- tors which grab the tail first breaking it off, leaving the lizard to escape and regenerate the tail later. Males have a bright orange head. These reptiles breed in May, the females lay eggs in June and the babies hatch in July. Eggs are laid in somewhat moist spots if they can be found, including under logs or boards, stumps and other debris. The fe- male will guard the nest and rolls her eggs until they hatch. At that point the mother abandons the nest and babies. Only 6-12 young are typically born and they are high- ly susceptible as prey from other lizards, snakes, birds and very much the targets of domestic cats. Cats are a really effective predator of many small wildlife animals and the lizard is given no pass which is a shame since they eat so many bugs. Skinks live in practically any place but really like wood piles, trees, leaves, rocks and of course buildings. These places al- low the lizards to sun themselves and feed. Their preferred foods include spiders, crickets, grasshoppers and other insects. Some people get excited and upset when they see lizards running across their porch or on their house. My advice would be to leave them alone and keep in mind that the reptiles eat plenty of spiders and other in- sects you would prefer not be in in your house. As kids we used to catch and even keep a few lizards in an old aquarium to learn about them. We often picked them up and sometimes the lizards would bite. For those that worry about getting bit I would laughingly tell you that the lizard's bite is trivial and as kids we would find the biggest lizard we could and purposely let them bite us to see how long they would hang on to the end of our finger before dropping off and running away. In fact, one of the biggest five lined skinks I ever saw, save the one I just spotted on my lumber pile, lived next to our porch when I was I kid. He must have enjoyed the construction debris from our house being ' built and lived around the house for a few afternoon and gave him to me: The lizard store while we had him. I recall releasing years afterwards. When I spotted him, he was pretty intimidating to a 10 year old him near that tree where my father caught was a full 8 inches and had a brown body, when viewed up close but what a prize he him and he disappeared up. the truck out rusty orange head and was thick. I really was to have for a few weeks. I could actu- of sight. wanted that lizard to keep for a few weeks ally see his teeth when I teased him into Next time you see a five lined skink, think but could never catch him. Somehow my opening his mouth. We fed him hoppers, of all the insects they are eating and keeping father caught him a five gallon bucket one other insects and mealworms from the pet out of your house! Outdoor Report Fishing has taken the summer pat- tern; other than the lag in saltwater action so far it has been good. RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER Kerfs Tackle Shop in Spotsylvania reported that the striper are still be- ing caught from the City Dock but ari~ much smaller now. Donna also reported great largemouth angling on plastics in the river and some Aqua Land Marina (301-259- late hours on plastics from around near the Eastern Shore and inshore 2222) reported lots of catfish ac- PONDS the shore. A few dedicated anglers wrecks. A few macks turned up tion this week. The fish were hit- Pond fishing for chunky, eating are catching some very nice crap- around Virginia Beach again and good smallmouth action upriver. Use ting bloodworms and other baits, size bass has been quite good lately, pie. the cobia bite in the same area is plastics and jigs for the bass. Donna Croaker were also caught but not in Worms, minnows and spinnerbaits reportedly good. A few spades were also reported lots of gar in the river large numbers. Squid was the bait of has been the ticket. Fish early and SALTWATER seen around structure in the lower now. choice. White perch are hitting on late on hot days. The bream aredone Big red drum are still hitting near bay as well. We are awaiting the Anglers are reporting that catfish the shoals and gravel bars on blood- spawning in some waters but still the CBBT and the Eastern Shore. bluefish bite to pick up along with are spawning now but still biting, worms, spawning in other waters. Croaker action has been good in the spot run. One angler in particular reported Donna at Ken,s reported anglers Motts Run Reservoir reports the lower rivers up and down the a large number of catfish he caught catching snakeheads in the tributar- decent catfish action with fish up coast but sometimes the action has CALENDAR down near Tappahannock. ies this past week and some very nice to 20 inches. These fish are clean been hit or miss. Fish a different June 4-18th--spring squirrel sea- bass in the grass. Use plastic creature looking and chunky. The bass ac- tide or location if it is a miss. Some son statewide. 6 per day. 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