skink, a lizard of the family Scincidae, a large, diverse group found in a range of environments in temperate and tropical regions throughout most of the world. Skinks are generally small or medium-sized, usually under 8 in. (20 cm) in length, with as much as half the body length consisting of the tail, though the largest, the prehensile-tailed, or monkey-tailed, skink, Corucia zebrata, of the Solomon Islands, can reach 30 in. (76 cm) in length. Most of the more than 1,400 species of skink have cylindrical bodies, a head joined to the body without an obvious neck, and proportionally small legs. Some skinks, primarily those that are burrowing, have reduced legs or are legless. Most skinks can shed the tail if attacked by a predator, and the tail often regrows. Although skinks are generally ground dwellers or burrowers, some are tree dwellers or live part of the time in water. They feed mostly on insects and other small invertebrates, but some skinks are omnivorous or herbivorous. Most reproduce by laying eggs in a hidden nest, but many give birth to live young, either having incubated the eggs internally or nourished the developing young through a placenta. Skinks are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Squamata, family Scincidae.

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