Many animals and endangered species live in the Econ River Wilderness Area, including gopher turtles, bluetail mole skinks, Florida panthers, bears, deer and more.
- Federal Status: Threatened
- FL Status: Federally-designated Threatened
- FNAI Ranks: G4T2/S2 (Globally: Apparently Secure, Sub sp. Imperiled/State: Imperiled)
The bluetail mole skink is a small lizard that can reach five inches (12.7 centimeters) in length.
This species has a brownish body with a blue tail, which may become pink or orange when an individual gets older or when the tail is regenerated.
Bluetail mole skinks have small legs with five toes per foot, and light colored lines on its upper sides that diverge posteriorly (lines branch off from one point on the back).
Breeding males may develop orange sides in late winter (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001).
The diet of the bluetail mole skink primarily consists of roaches, crickets, and spiders (Christman 1992).
Little is known about the reproduction of the bluetail mole skink.
Reproduction is thought to be similar to that of the Peninsula mole skink (E.e. onocrepis) (Mount 1963).
Females may lay three to seven eggs in a nesting cavity that is less than 11.8 inches (30 centimeters) below the surface.
Total incubation time for the eggs is 31-51 days (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 1999).
Habitat – THE ECON RIVER WILDERNESS PARK !!!!
Because bluetail mole skinks need loose sand for burrowing, they inhabit sandhill and xeric hammocks, oak and sand pine scrubs, and turkey oak barrens in Florida.
In Florida, bluetail mole skinks are found in Highlands, Polk, and Osceola counties along the Lake Wales Ridge (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001).
Habitat loss is the main threat to the bluetail mole skink (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 1999).
Xeric habitat has suffered tremendous losses due to agricultural, residential, and commercial development (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001).
The limited range of the bluetail mole skink makes it vulnerable to natural or environmental catastrophes.
Conservation and Management
The bluetail mole skink is protected as a Threatened species by the Federal Endangered Species Act and
as a Federally-designated Threatened species by Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule.
Other Informative Links
Christman, S.P.1992. Bluetail Mole Skink, Eumeces egregius lividus (Mount). Pages 117-122 in P. E. Moler, editor. Rare and Endangered Biota of Florida. Volume III. Amphibians and Reptiles. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA.
Florida Natural Areas Inventory. 2001. Field guide to the rare animals of Florida. https://www.fnai.org/FieldGuide/pdf/Eumeces_egregius_lividus.pdf
Mount, R.H. 1963. The natural history of the red-tailed skink, Eumeces egregius Baird. American Midland Naturalist 70:356-385.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. (1999, May 18). Sand skink. Retrieved August 3, 2011, from Multi-Species Recovery Plan for South Florida:
US Fish and Wildlife Service
Region 4 – Southeast
1875 Century Boulevard
Atlanta, GA 30345
Assistant Regional Director of Ecological Services:
Leopoldo Miranda – 404-679-7085
Chief, Division of Restoration and Recovery
Aaron Valenta – 404-679-4144
Chief, Division of Environmental Review
Rob Tawes – 404-679-7142
Candidate Conservation: Mike Harris – 404-679-7081
Listing: Timothy Merritt – 404-679-7082
Consultation: Jerry Ziewitz – 850-877-6513
Grants: Kelly Bibb – 404-679-7132; David Dell – 404-679-7313
Habitat Conservation Planning and Safe Harbor Agreements: David Dell – 404-679-7313
Permits: Karen Marlowe – 404-679-7097
Recovery: Kelly Bibb – 404-679-7132; Drew Becker – 404-679-7226
Florida scientist was global leader in turtle conservation
E.T., an African spurred tortoise, was one of many who found a new home at Peter Pritchard’s Chelonian Research Institute in Oviedo. Pritchard died Tuesday night at age 76. (2/25/2020)
By Kevin Spear – The Orlando Sentinel
Florida zoologist Peter Charles Howard Pritchard, whose turtle and tortoise conservation brought international acclaim, and whose persona was of a dashing and ceaselessly curious academic, died Tuesday night in hospice care at age 76.
Pritchard’s Chelonian Research Institute in Oviedo contains one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of its kind. The University of Florida doctoral graduate had been named a Hero of the Planet by Time magazine and a Floridian of the Year by the Orlando Sentinel.
While ill during the past few years, Pritchard was visited by a steady stream of his former students traveling from around the world for a last conversation with their mentor.
“Chimpanzees have Jane Goodall. Mountain gorillas had the late Dian Fossey. And the world’s turtles and tortoises have Dr. Peter Pritchard,” wrote University of Southern California biological anthropologist Craig B. Stanford in his 2010 book “The Last Tortoise, A Tale of Extinction in Our Lifetime.”
A 2008 Orlando Sentinel story characterized Pritchard and his wife of nearly 50 years, civic activist and volunteer Sibille Hart Pritchard, as a Central Florida power couple.
The story described Pritchard as “6-foot-4, an Oxford-educated Brit raised in Ireland, who became an international conservationist accustomed to living on nuts and berries during expeditions” and his wife as “5-foot-3 and a native of Guyana, though one friend describes her as a ‘one-woman United Nations.’ Her family tree includes Portuguese, Chinese, East Indian, Arawak Indian, African, Jewish and Texan ancestors.”
Sibille Pritchard on Wednesday cited her husband as her “strength and my soulmate.”
“The influence he’s had on colleagues, students and friends is a testament to his brilliance as a scientist and his kindness as a man. The lives he touched and the difference he made in the world of environmental conservation made our home here in Florida a global gathering place where people from all over the world became part of our lives. Together, we’ve had an amazing journey, raised three incredible men and shared experiences of a lifetime,” she said.
In the 1960s, Pritchard earned his Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Florida. While there, he studied with the late Archie Carr, whose legacy in sea turtle research and conservation was recognized by the naming of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Brevard and Indian River counties.
Pritchard went on to work with the World Wildlife Fund, spending four years there before joining Audubon Florida in 1973 as assistant executive director, senior vice president and acting president.
“I grew up learning from Peter in the early 1970s,” said Audubon Florida’s advocacy director Charles Lee.
“He was a scientist’s scientist with heart and mind focused on protection of the natural world. He developed an innate sense of practical innovation to save species on the brink. While his primary expertise was turtles and tortoises, he was a respected adviser on panthers and birds as well. A true Renaissance man of the biosciences,” Lee said.
In 1997, he founded the Chelonian Research Institute in Oviedo. The institute’s collection of more than 14,000 specimens spans nearly 95 percent of all living turtle and tortoise species.
“Peter Pritchard was simply the greatest turtle man that ever lived,” said Russell A. Mittermeier, chief conservation officer at the Global Wildlife Conservation. “He knew more about turtles, their biology, and their cultural significance than anyone; he had unsurpassed field experience, visiting virtually every corner of the planet where turtles occur; and he was a passionately committed turtle conservationist, calling attention to their plight within the wider conservation community.”
According to institute records, Pritchard traveled to more than 100 countries for field work with turtles in all continents and many remote islands. Several species of turtles are named after him and his lists of writings, including 14 books, speaking engagements and leadership roles are extensive.
“Peter also had an enormous influence on so many people, myself included,” Mittermeier said. “I first learned of his existence in 1967, when I bought a copy of his landmark book ‘Living Turtles of the World.’ I was 17 and already very interested in herpetology, and it served as a critical reference work and an enormous inspiration.”
Longtime friend and former Orange County Mayor Linda Chapin noted that Pritchard was the world’s great expert on turtles and tortoises. “But to me, an equal measure of the man is that former students have come from all over the world in recent years just to sit with him and say goodbye.”
In addition to Pritchard’s many honors, he was recognized as a Champion of the Wild by the Discovery Television Channel.
Pritchard developed and emphasized an approach of “conservation without confrontation.”
He recognized that “finding common ground with those identified as opponents and developing consensus positions by a process of mutual education, may be the only way of establishing lasting changes without provoking constant challenges and demanding impracticable levels of law enforcement,” according to an institute’s description of his work.
“Through the Chelonian Research Institute and the loyal support of their generous board, Peter’s influence and projects stretched globally,” said Rob Truland, institute chairman. “As of last year, he and I had known each other for 40 years. If you are lucky enough to have known one great man in your lifetime, you are lucky enough.”
The zoologist also made his mark in having expertise with sea turtles, tortoises and freshwater turtles, resulting in Pritchard being the only person earning the John Behler Award for turtle conservation and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sea Turtle Society.
Pritchard’s fame grew largely from his worldwide research and conservation efforts. But his Florida work was deep and technical, including working with Audubon’s famed and now-late Herbert W. Kale on bird research in the state.
One chapter of their partnership included a survey of radionuclides in wildlife on phosphate-mine lands in Polk County and analysis of wildlife utilization of restored wetlands on former mining land in Florida.
Pritchard was presented the Archie F. Carr medal from the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida.
Chapin said beyond the accolades for science and conservation “was a great love story.”
“She was a journalist and daughter of a Guyanese diplomat who wound up traveling the world with him, camping out on beaches with infants, and attending Explorer’s Club banquets when he lectured. The fact that they settled in Central Florida never cut down on their travels to exotic places.”
Along with his wife, Pritchard is survived by two sons, Sebastian and Cameron, and was preceded in death by son, Dominic. A celebration tribute will be announced at a later date.