If you see something small and snake-like slithering in the sand or the undergrowth by your feet, it just might be a snake skink! So if you were going to yelp out in fear, don’t. Skinks are long lizards with reduced limbs which move very much like a snake. There are about 50 kinds of skinks in India, but I’ve only seen the snake skink (Lygosoma punctata) or supple skink around residential areas in Bangalore.
Juvenile snake skinks have a bright red tail, leading some to mistakenly think these skinks are poisonous. I quite like looking at their red tails wriggle and writhe as they move-it makes it
seem as though they leave a trail of flame as they move. The juveniles (of the snake skinks) have streaks on its body, unlike the adult which has spots and no red tail. Snake skinks are semi-fossorial(which means they live underground) and have developed a particularly neat adaptation to prevent their eyes getting scratched- a transparent visor they can slide over their eyes.
Skinks press their feet against their body to flee from a predator all the more faster. Interestingly, some skinks in Australia were found to have lost their limbs completely due to lack of use.
(This post is part of an article published on Caleidoscope)