It's amazing what you can come across in nature, and in most cases, the best things are found by accident.
This female lizard with her eggs was discovered by my parents under an old board on their property. We gently raised the board to take a peak.
I'm not a 100% sure of the identification of this lizard, but I am sure that it's either the common five-lined skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) or the Southeastern five-lined skink (Eumeces inexpectatus). It's difficult to discriminate between these two species on the basis of physical appearance.
Regardless of the id, skink are very common in our region. They are often seen close to ground level around house foundations or spotted scooting across the deck or sidewalk. I even had one in my house a few years ago. Needless to say, the Misses wasn't happy.
Even after they hatch the female stays close to her young. Look closely and you can see her half buried in the dirt below.
Juveniles are similar to adults but have a bright blue tail, which serves to attract predators' attention away from the body. The tail breaks off when the skink is attacked, and it continues to wriggle for some time to distract the predator further.
Skinks feed mainly on invertebrates, including beetles, grasshoppers, wood roaches, caterpillars, spiders, and centipedes.
I've seen skinks probably a thousand times in my life but watching the female protect her eggs is a first for me. It kind of puts a whole new prospective on how I view these lizards now. Even some of the smallest creatures we often take for granted serve an important role in nature.
Be sure to check out Camera Critters website over at http://camera-critters.blogspot.com/ for more photos of fabulous critters.