- Small, cylindrical lizard with a pale, unmarked ventral surface.
Glossy scales and a long, easily broken tail.
- Dorsal ground color is olive brown.
Dorsal pattern consists of two light stripes from the neck onto the tail on each side with a darker coloration between them.
Males have red coloration on head during breeding season.
Plestiodon anthracinus reaches adult lengths of 12.5-17.5 cm (5-7 in), including tail.
In North America, Plestiodon anthracinus is found from Missouri and Nebraska to Texas and Louisiana, in parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Georgia.
Plestiodon anthracinus is a diurnal skink that avoids capture by slipping into the water and hiding under stones or debris. This skink species feeds on adult insects and insect larvae.
Egg clutches (average 8 or 9 eggs) are laid in June with the female remaining to guard the nest from predators. Eggs typically hatch after 30 days.
Plestiodon anthracinus is seen on wooded hillsides near creeks or streams in moist, humid environments.
The coal skink is not a protected species in Texas and can be legally collected with a hunting license.
The single subspecies of Plestiodon anthracinus found in Texas, P. a. pluvialis, is found in the northeastern part of the state.
The North American skinks (north of Mexico) previously placed in the genus Eumeces are now restricted to the genus Plestiodon (Brandley et al. 2005, Systematic Biology 54:373-390).