The Broad-headed Skink
) is — together with the Great Plains Skink
— the largest of the Eumeces
-skinks, growing to a total length of to nearly .
The broad-headed skink gets its name from the wide jaws, giving the head a triangular appearance. Adult males are brown ore olive brown in color and have bright orange heads during the mating season in spring. Females have five light stripes running down the back and the tail, similar to the Five-lined Skink
. Juveniles are dark brown or black and also striped and have blue tails.
These skinks are the most arboreal of the North American Eumeces. Although they do occur in urban areas, their preferred habitat are humid forest areas with abundant leaf litter, especially oak forests. They forage on the ground, but also easily and often climb trees for shelter or sleep or searching for food.
Females typically are larger than males, and the larger the female, the more eggs she will lay. Males thus often try to mate with the largest female they can find, and they engage in sometimes severe fights with other males over access to a female. The female lays between 8 and 22 eggs, which she guards and protects until they hatch in June or July. The hatchlings have a total length of to .
Broad-headed skinks are widely distributed in the south-eastern states of the U.S.
, from the East Coast to Kansas
and eastern Texas
and from Ohio
to the Gulf Coast.
These skinks (along with the similar Eumeces fasciatus
) are often falsely called "red-headed scorpions" and believed to be venomous
. This is a myth; Broad-headed skinks are not
venomous, and although they can bite and deliver a painful pinch, they are not dangerous.