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Endangered lizard squirms out from underneath pile of boxes in Tecumseh, Ont., warehouse


For Samantha Stewart, a recent work day started with a bit of excitement when she came across a small lizard with a bright blue tail under a pile of boxes.

“All of a sudden, I picked up a box, and this little guy comes squirming out. I wasn’t sure what he was,” said Stewart, who works at Parker DKI Restoration on North Talbot Road in Tecumseh, Ont.

After the sighting on Friday, she called over her boss, Shawn Moir, and they tried to catch the creature in hopes of saving it.

Samantha Stewart describes finding the skink

Samantha Stewart describes finding the skink

The reptile has been identified as a common five-lined skink, the only lizard native to Ontario and an endangered species. 

“It’s not something you see on the daily. He was so scared, right? So he freaked out, and he kind of slid against the floor and squirmed off,” Stewart said.

Moir and Samantha Stewart work at Parker DKI in Tecumseh, where the rare endangered skink was spotted on Friday. (Mike Evans/CBC)

According to the provincial government, there are two populations of the species in the province, including one that lives in the Carolinian zone in southwestern Ontario.

That population is seen as endangered, while the other, found further north in the Southern Shield, is considered a species of “special concern.”

Field naturalist Phil Roberts checks out a photo of a skink that was spotted at a warehouse in Tecumseh. (Mike Evans/CBC)

According to field naturalist Phil Roberts, the discovery comes amid the local return of species like the peregrine falcon, eagles and lake sturgeon.

It suggests this elusive species also could be expanding its range — maybe.

“It’s a little bit hard to swallow because we know as an endangered species, and even the populations that are being monitored, like [in] Point Pelee National Park, the story is actually not real great for five-lined skink. But having said that, five-lined skink used to occur throughout Essex County and actually most of southwestern Ontario.”

LISTEN: Phil Roberts joins Windsor Morning:

 A rare sighting of a solitary and reclusive lizard, in Tecumseh.

Roberts said the population has been hit by factors including development and agriculture, as well as the pet trade.

“So regions around the city of Windsor, even though we have one of the most biologically diverse regions in Canada … [the] five-lined skink suffered from urbanization, right? Cats and dogs, and anything else that would predate small lizard species.”

Locally, there are known skink populations in Point Pelee National Park in Leamington and Rondeau Provincial Park in Chatham-Kent, according to Roberts.

Stewart was hoping to relocate the lizard to a better location, but as far as she knows, the one that scurried off could still be inside the warehouse where she works.


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