Observations on nesting locations and brooding behavior of the Common Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) in middle Tennessee
Brian T. Miller
Reproductive activities of Common Five-lined Skinks (Plestiodon fasciatus) have been documented throughout much of the range of the species, but information on nests or brooding behavior for populations inhabiting Tennessee is lacking. On 16 June 2019, I found a female brooding eight eggs in a nest underneath weathered cardboard on a gravel driveway in southern Cannon County, Tennessee. I photographed the brooding female and her eggs 16 times during the incubation period, which included five times after hatching commenced. The female was positioned alongside her clutch with her tail or other body part on top of or otherwise in contact with one or more of the eggs each time I examined the nest. The female invariably, but only temporarily, abandoned her nest soon after I removed the cardboard and began flash photography. Although always within the same area underneath the cardboard, the eggs were positioned differently each time I observed them. The eggs began to hatch on 6 July, and all had hatched by the morning of 7 July, at which time the female was in the nest with her hatchlings. At least three hatchlings were in the nest the morning of 8 July. This is the first record of Common Five-lined Skinks nesting in gravel, and supports reports from other regions that a brooding female (1) routinely repositions eggs, (2) has a strong bond to the nest even after repeated disturbances during a three-week period, (3) and her hatchlings might remain in the nest a day or two after all eggs have hatched.
Key Words.—clutch size, egg repositioning, hatching date, hatchlings, incubation, nest guarding behavior, reproduction.