Yesterday afternoon, as I was walking past one of our out-buildings, I heard quite a ruckus. My initial thought was that there was an opossum rambling about in the shed. My subsequent thought was that it might be a hunting dog that has been roaming around for the past 5 months. She has eluded all attempts at catching her thus far. In the hopes that it was the dog, I crept toward the building, determined to block her in and then call her owner.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered the source of all that noise was a trio of Southeastern Five-lined Skinks (Eumeces inexpectatus) trapped in an old metal pail. Seems I had happened upon a sort of lizard soap opera -- a love triangle, if you will.
How the trio managed to get into the pail is a mystery, but it was apparent that they couldn't get out. Since I didn't know how long they had been trapped, I immediately got them some water. All three were quite thirsty. The female, pictured below, parked herself in the water to drink.
One of the male skinks was a bit battered. He was missing quite a few of his posterior dorsal scales as well as the last inch or so of his tail. You can see the severed tail segment there by his left hind leg.
The other male looked to be in better shape. He wasn't missing as many scales and his tail was intact.
So which male was the successful suitor? My money is on the battered one. I think the reason he was so chewed up is because he was, uh, occupied by his attentions to the female and thus too busy to bother fighting back. Guess we'll never know for sure though.
After confirming our ID and taking some pictures, we released all three skinks and turned the pail upside-down to prevent future entrapment. I may poke around the out-building in the coming weeks to see if I can find the female and her eggs. I'd like to think that there will be some offspring to show for all that trauma of being stuck in the pail.