I stayed outside and watched it for a while. As heavy looking as it was, it managed to walk along the outer wall of my house without falling. I noticed that it moved in a zigzag pattern, and I first thought that he was having trouble keeping himself stuck to the wall. A little research I did later explained the movements better.
Skinks are not to be confused with what we commonly know as "true lizards." True lizards are known to be much smaller with some exceptions such as the iguana. Heck, there are some skinks that don't even have legs. Some skinks can be quite large too; although, the largest of them have since gone extinct. True lizards are not as diverse as skinks, and that is really the main difference; however, the term lizard still applies because both types still fall under the order of Squamata.
Skinks are burrowers. in fact, it could be said that they are burrowing enthusiasts. They love digging and do it sometimes for no reason. They love being underground far more than above, and this is likely why they aren't spotted very often. Imagine my surprise finding one on top of my door. He must have been the weirdo of the bunch.
Like most reptiles, the skink is a carnivore. Depending on their size, they will hunt down insects as small as a fly with the bigger ones going after mice. They detect scent by flicking out their tongue and will chase down their prey until it gets cornered. They will then get close enough to bite it once before swallowing the prey whole.
As I have said already, the skink can come in many sizes. I thought the one on my door was pretty big; however, the biggest skink in the world is known as the Solomon Islands skink. It is 32 inches long from head to tail-tip. There have been bigger ones in the past, but the next size up went extinct in 2013.
Remember how I commented on the odd way the skink was walking along the side of my house? The zigzag motion comes from the fact that skinks are closely related to snakes. The order of Squamata covers a wide range of reptile species which include some of the most dangerous snakes on Earth. I think skinks take more from their snake cousins than the true lizards do, and that, happily, makes them more creepy. It is not wrong to think of them as snakes with legs.
I have only encountered the skink once in fiction. In "Welkin Weasels: Heastward Ho!" by Gary Kilworth, the heroes of the story were captured by a middle eastern tribe of skink bandits for the crime of stealing water from their well. They threatened their jerboa guide with death and even forced him to go through a funny trial where the little rodent would have to walk along a tightrope over a bed of sharp knives. If that was not enough, they all tossed loofahs at him to make him fall. The skinks were actually not as bad as they looked and they really just wanted to scare the adventurers a little before they let them go on their way. Pretty mean of them, I have to admit.
I like the idea of a snake-like personality without actually being a snake. Snakes are difficult to make characters with because they are missing limbs. We often have to fudge it with creatures like nagas to make it work. Here we have a walking snake all set up with all his limbs intact. I see them as quiet but not brooding. They probably are very good at concealing what they are feeling or thinking. They are very likely predators through and through.
So, after going through my research, I guess I know what the skink was doing up on my door. He had probably followed his prey up there in an attempt to corner it, and I ruined the hunt when I had to get into my house. Still, I loved looking at it. It was a fascinating creatures who did not mind going to extremes to get the food it wanted. Either way, I am sure it was happy to get back underground where giant doors would never be a problem.
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|Similar to the one on my door.|
|Solomon Islands Skink|
|Solomon Islands Skink|
|Illustration from "Heastward Ho!"|