A homeowner on Reddit said they were digging in their garden when they came across an unknown, scaly creature buried in the soil.
The post appeared in January 2022, in the middle of winter in the U.S. At that time, many animals were deep in hibernation, including the small reptile this Redditor found.
“Decided to do the landscaping in the front yard first and found this little dude buried underneath a couple layers of weed barrier fabric and old mulch,” the Redditor said.
The “dude” in question seemed to be a coiled snake at first glance, but one small, clawed leg was visible in the photo. The image also included a black-and-brown scale pattern with stripes running down the animal’s whole body, fading from tan at the head to bright blue on the tail.
The blue stripes made the species easy to identify. “It’s actually a lizard,” said the original poster in a comment. “A skink, to be exact. I thought it was blue-tailed, but it’s actually called five-lined.”
“This was almost extinct a decade ago!” said a congratulatory commenter.
According to the University of Georgia, the five-lined skink is a large lizard that likes to hide under fallen logs and tree bark. It isn’t venomous, and it eats bugs, including spiders, which makes it a beneficial animal to have around.
“I thought it was a snake until I saw it move,” said the original poster in another comment. “I felt bad for disturbing its warm abode.”
The original poster wasn’t sure how to help the skink after disturbing it. They considered warming it up or moving it to a safer location. After discussing it with other Redditors, they decided to leave it where they found it.
“I buried it under a pile of leaves, dirt, and old mulch because that’s how I found it,” they said. “It’s going to be a fairly warm and sunny day today, but I’m going to leave it how I found it and work on the other parts of my yard.”
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