HerpMapper

HerpMapper (HM) is a relatively new global herp atlas and data hub project that receives “catch and release” data from the general public, herpers, other citizen scientists, and professionals. HM data are only viewable to county-level to the public, but HerpMapper does make these data freely available to HM Partners – groups that use these recorded observations for research, conservation, and preservation purposes. More more information see our F.A.Q. page.

HerpMapper Wants You!

  • Data contributors
    • Citizen scientists
    • Herpers
    • Professionals
  • Data Partners (view our current list of Partners).
    • National, regional, and local units of government
    • Non-governmental conservation groups
    • Existing herp atlas projects
    • Researchers
    • Other conservation partners
  • Promoters – share our flyer (English, Spanish, Chinese).
    • Website administrators
    • Conservation organizations
    • Herpers and other naturalists

Share with Confidence!

  • Public does not have access to detailed location information (example)
    • County-level only in United States
    • Similar scale for other countries that do not use counties
  • Can choose to completely restrict public access to specific observations
  • Maintain access to data you have submitted
  • Export your data in a wide variety of formats (more upon specific request)

Data is Available!

  • Free access for research, conservation, and preservation purposes
    • Supports one-time requests and continuous access
  • Shared data available at multiple scales
    • City to international-level access
    • Species-specific access
  • Photo or audio vouchers for all observations
  • All observations have a HM accession number (example: HM 39316)

Easy to Use!

  • Easy web interface that extracts voucher metadata when present
  • FREE Mobile Mapper app (Android and Apple) that allows multiple configurations
  • App does NOT need cell signal to work in the field!
  • Options to bulk import existing data sets! See importing data

For more information about contributing or receiving data, or for questions and concerns, contact: info@herpmapper.org

Don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook, follow us @HerpMapper on Twitter, or comment on Field Herp Forum!

Five-Lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus)

Five-Lined Skink

Plestiodon fasciatus


The five-lined skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) is a common lizard in eastern North America. It is a smooth-scaled lizard that typically grows to between 5 and 8.5 inches. Their color can vary as they age and between the sexes; but as the name implies, these lizards exhibit five parallel lines that extend from snout to tail.

Juvenile five-lined skink By:  Phillip Laxton
Juvenile five-lined skink
By: Phillip Laxton

The distinct line pattern can become diminished in males as they appear to be a more uniform color, but during breeding season they show bright orange-red coloration on the head that makes them easy to identify. Juveniles are the most colorful, with dark bodies, white to yellow stripes, and a bright blue tail. As they mature, they lose the blue color in their tails, and their bodies become a brown to olive color (females can sometimes retain small amounts of the blue coloration). Five-lined skinks can also be distinguished from other skink species by counting their labial scales: they only have four, whereas other species have five.

Diet/Feeding: Five-lined skinks feed on small invertebrates, including crickets, spiders, centipedes, and beetle larvae.

Habitat/Range: The five-lined skink can be found throughout the eastern United States and north into Ontario, Canada. These skinks are diurnal ectotherms and can commonly be spotted on the ground, on rocks, or in trees, basking in the sun. When they are not basking, they are found under logs, rocks, and other debris.

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Reproduction: Breeding season occurs in the spring months. Mating takes place in April and May, and the female will then lay eggs six weeks later, as late as mid-July. She finds a nest cavity in rotten logs, leaf litter, and other damp forest debris and lays approximately ten amniotic eggs, which increase in size during the incubation period as they absorb moisture from the soil. The female will guard this nest until the eggs hatch. If the eggs do not absorb enough water from their surroundings, the female will urinate on the eggs to keep them hydrated. Females will also bask in the sun, then immediately return to the nest to warm the eggs. Five-lined skink females often form communities for the purpose of nest-guarding. Once the eggs are hatched, all forms of parental care cease.

Herping Tips/Fun Facts: The bright blue coloring of this skink’s tail causes people to mistakenly believe they are a venomous lizard. They are sometimes referred to as “scorpions”, as people falsely think their tails can be used to sting predators.

Five-lined skinks exhibit caudal autotomy as a defense mechanism. They have a fracture zone between two vertebrae in the tail, and store fat in their tails. If they are facing capture by a predator, they can release their tail. The tail continues to move for some time, distracting the predator and providing it with a meal while the skink can escape to safety. Because of this, extreme care should be taking when herping for skinks if tail-dropping is to be avoided. Skinks will regrow a lost tail, but it is duller in appearance and lacks the full functionality of the original tail.

Green Anole, Anolis Carolinensis

Green Anole

Anolis carolinensis


Green Anole Claiming His Territory By: Jason Hellender Instagram: @fireteguguy
Green Anole Claiming His Territory By: Jason Hellender
Instagram: @fireteguguy
Green Anole By Phillip Laxton Instagram: @plaxton53
Green Anole By Phillip Laxton
Instagram: @plaxton53

The Green Anole, also known as the “American Anole” or the “Carolina Anole” is a small little lizard, maxing out around 7-8″ long.  There are a few documented cases of these guys reaching 9″ in some of the large males.  They are the only species of Anole native to the United States.  A few invasive species are taking hold in the USA, threatening the Green Anole.  These little lizards are diurnal, or day time active.  They can be found green, brown and green, or brown and some have a stripe going down their back.  They are able to change color based on temperature and activity.  Some specimen have a stripe only when in the brown form and some have the stripe in both their brown and green form.  This species has a dewlap used in mating and territory guarding.

Green Anole By Phillip Laxton Instagram: @plaxton53
Green Anole By Phillip Laxton
Instagram: @plaxton53

This species is sexually dimorphic with the males being larger in overall size and girth.  Males typically will have a slightly larger head to body ratio.  The “dewlap” in males are larger and more brightly colored.  Females have rarely been observed using the dewlap in any kind of demonstration.    In the populations I have personally studied, the stripe on the back is found to be strongly correlated to the female sex.  Juveniles look just like miniature versions of the parents.

Feeding/Diet:

Anoles feed on insects and spiders.  They can easily be observed scouting for meals on porch railings, fences, sides of buildings, and trees.  Moths, butterflies, and grasshoppers seem to be a favorite.

General Activity/Behavior:

Green Anole By Phillip Laxton Instagram: @plaxton53
Green Anole By Phillip Laxton
Instagram: @plaxton53

The Green Anole is a feisty little lizard.  Males are very territorial and will display a claim of breeding spots with head-bobbing and presenting the dewlap.  If demonstration does not scare off a challenging male, fight will break out.  I have watched two males fight for 20-30 minutes, to the point of exhaustion, just to have a well rested male come in and chase off both tired males.  Fights typically involve biting and wrestling.  Many males have tossed challengers off of trees.  The fallen lizard will many times run back up the tree and try to avenge his honor.  Many males, during a heightened state of arousal, have even demonstrated a claim of territory to other lizard species, other animals, and even passing Herpers.  I must admit, I find it entertaining when an Anole is attempting to scare me off with a head-bob and a dewlap.

Habitat/Range:

The range of the Green Anole is the southeastern USA.  They can be found throughout Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.  The coastal plains of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Coastal Plains and Piedmont of North Carolina, and southeastern Virginia also have a healthy population.

Green Anole By: Drew Simmons, Wyatt Elder, & Wyatt Joachim Instagram: @xtremeherper12
Green Anole By: Drew Simmons, Wyatt Elder, & Wyatt Joachim
Instagram: @xtremeherper12

The Anole has successfully adapted to a variety of habitat.  Being able to scale buildings with adhesive toe-pads have allowed them to take up residency in suburbs and even towns.  The Anole has gotten very good at living in backyards all over the southeast USA.

Green Anole By Phillip Laxton Instagram: @plaxton53
Green Anole By Phillip Laxton
Instagram: @plaxton53

Anoles can regularly be seen basking in the sun on the side of buildings.  They can be found on the side of barns and outbuildings, fences, porch railings, and wood piles.  Naturally, they prefer trees and shrubs.  They are good jumpers and can easily move from one tree to another without ever leaving the tree tops.  They can be found on the ground as well.  Many sightings on the ground are lizards that are in transit to a new perch.

Reproduction:

Green Anole By Phillip Laxton Instagram: @plaxton53
Green Anole By Phillip Laxton
Instagram: @plaxton53

Anoles begin mating early spring and females will lay a single egg every few weeks until late summer to early fall.  Females lay the egg in moist locations such as mulch, rotten logs, or the inside of hollow spots in trees.  Young will hatch within a few weeks of being laid.  There is no parental care for the eggs or the young.  As mentioned before, males are highly territorial and will defend prime breeding ground.

Neat Fact:

I love to use these guys as a gauge when looking for other herps.  They are a primary food source for reptile eating snakes such as kings, racers, and pigmy rattlers.  They are the first to become active when spring arrives and the last to leave when fall sets in.  Many times, I have observed them active on occasional warm days during winter.

Herping Tips:

  • Look for them along the side of buildings such as barns.

    Green Anole By Phillip Laxton Instagram: @plaxton53
    Green Anole By Phillip Laxton
    Instagram: @plaxton53
  • They love to run along fences and fallen trees.
  • They are regularly found on porches and step railings.
  • Anoles love to get behind vinyl siding.
  • They are a guide to lead you to other reptiles as they are on the menu of many other reptiles.
  • One of the first Herps of spring and last to go in late fall.
  • Extra care should be taken not to grab the Anole by the tail.  It will regularly drop it’s tail in an attempt to get away.  Although it will grow back, you should be careful not to injure it.
  • When attempting to catch one, it may be helpful to slowly wave one hand in front of the lizard to distract it while you catch it with the other hand.