Six-lined Racerunner Aspidoscelis sexlineatus

Adult from Newton County
Juveniles from Southern Illinois

Identification: Racerunners are interesting lizards that occur in localized populations associated with sandy (western Indiana) or rocky (southern Indiana) substrates and open canopies. Of note in identifying this species, is that they are apt to escape by running quickly along the ground, into thickets or under rocks, as opposed to climbing trees, as do skinks and fence lizards. Six-lined racerunners get their name from the six yellow stripes that run from their head to tail. As in some skinks, juvenile racerunners have a bright blue tail that fades with age. However, they are not as smooth-scaled as skinks and glass lizards, or as rough-scaled as fence lizards. Adult racerunners grow to around 9 inches(20 cm) long.

Similar Species: Six-lined racerunners are similar in appearance to both five-lined skinks and broad-headed skinks. This species scalation is notably different; they sport many tiny dorsal scales and lack the shiny smooth appearance of skinks.

Distribution: Racerunners have a distribution unlike any other Indiana reptile or amphibian. They are most abundant in sand prairies and among the sand dunes of northwestern Indiana. However, they have also been found in scattered, sandy-soiled open areas in southwestern Indiana, along the Wabash River. Racerunners were historically known from Floyd and Clark Counties, on scattered rocky glades but these populations may now be gone. Glades are fire-maintained ecosystems and many of these glades occurred on private property and have since become overgrown and shaded.

Sandy scrub in Newton County
Sheet Metal Pile in Northern Illinois

Distribution Map
Distribution map of Six-lined Racerunner (Aspidoscelis sexlineatus)
Photographs