Did you know that Florida is home to over 30 species of lizards? From the tiny green anole to the impressive Cuban knight anole, these reptiles can be found all across the state. However, not all of them are native to Florida. In fact, the establishment of non-native lizard species has had a significant impact on the ecosystem.
One native species that has been affected by this invasion is the Florida sand skink. This small lizard is only found in certain parts of Florida and is considered threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Understanding their behavior and habitat is crucial for conservation efforts.
So, why do lizards thrive in Florida? With its warm climate and diverse habitats, it’s no wonder that these scaly creatures have made themselves at home here. But what do they look like? How are they born? And where exactly can you find them?
So let’s dive in!
25 Common Lizards of Florida & Pictures
Florida is home to a diverse range of lizards, from the small and colorful anoles to the larger iguanas.
White Spots on the Brown Anole Lizard
The brown anole lizard is one of the most common lizards in Florida. They are typically brown or gray with white spots on their backs. These spots can vary in size and shape but are usually circular or oval-shaped.
Brown anoles are arboreal lizards that can be found climbing trees and shrubs throughout Florida. They are also known for their distinctive dewlap, which is a flap of skin under their chin that they use to communicate with other lizards.
If you’re trying to identify a brown anole, look for its white spots and dewlap. They are often mistaken for the green anole lizard, which has yellow spots instead of white.
Yellow Spots on the Green Anole Lizard
The green anole lizard is another common lizard found in Florida. Unlike the brown anole, they have yellow spots on their backs instead of white. They also have a more slender body than the brown anole and are better climbers.
Green anoles can change color depending on their mood or environment. When they’re relaxed or sleeping, they may appear duller in color than when they’re active or threatened.
If you’re trying to spot a green anole in the wild, look for its yellow spots and slender body. You may also notice it changing colors as it moves around its environment.
The Colorful Collared Lizard
The collared lizard is one of the largest species of lizards found in Florida. They can grow up to 14 inches long and have bright blue-green coloring on their bodies and tails. They also have a distinctive collar of scales around their necks, which gives them their name.
Collared lizards are primarily found in the western part of Florida and prefer dry, rocky habitats. They are active during the day and can often be seen basking in the sun on rocks or other surfaces.
If you’re lucky enough to spot a collared lizard in the wild, you’ll be treated to a stunning display of color and movement. Keep an eye out for its bright blue-green coloring and collar of scales around its neck.
The Invasive Cuban Brown Anole Lizard
The Cuban brown anole lizard is an invasive species that has become common throughout Florida in recent years. They are similar in appearance to the native brown anole but have larger dewlaps and more pronounced crests on their heads.
Cuban brown anoles are aggressive towards other lizards and may even prey on smaller individuals. They are also known for their ability to adapt quickly to new environments, which has helped them spread rapidly throughout Florida.
If you come across a brown anole with a large dewlap or pronounced head crest, it may be a Cuban brown anole. These invasive lizards can be harmful to native species and should be reported if spotted.
Discover 10 Incredible Lizards in Florida
Florida is Home to Over 30 Species of Lizards
Florida’s warm and humid climate provides an ideal habitat for various species of lizards. With over 30 different types of lizards, Florida holds some of the most diverse populations in the United States. These lizards vary in size, color, and behavior. From tiny anoles to large iguanas, these reptiles can be found throughout the state.
One common lizard found in Florida is the green anole. This small lizard is typically green or brown and can change colors depending on its mood or environment. They are often seen perched on trees or bushes and are known for their ability to climb walls with ease. Another popular type of lizard found in Florida is the gecko. Geckos have a unique ability to walk up walls and even ceilings thanks to their sticky toe pads.
The Eastern Fence Lizard is Known for Its Impressive Push-Up Displays
The eastern fence lizard, also known as the prairie lizard, is another fascinating species that can be found in Florida. These lizards are known for their impressive push-up displays that they use to attract mates or defend their territory against other males. Male fence lizards will extend their legs and do push-ups while bobbing their heads up and down rapidly.
Another interesting fact about fence lizards is that they have a unique defense mechanism where they can detach their tails if threatened by predators. This allows them to escape while leaving behind a wriggling tail that distracts predators from attacking the actual body.
The Six-Lined Racerunner Can Run Up To 18 Miles Per Hour
The six-lined racerunner is one of the fastest lizards found in North America and can run at speeds up to 18 miles per hour! These slender-bodied lizards have six distinct stripes running down their backs which give them their name.
Racerunners are often found in open areas such as fields, roadsides, and beaches. They feed on insects and other small animals and have a keen sense of vision which helps them locate their prey.
The Brown Anole is an Invasive Species in Florida
The brown anole is another common lizard in Florida, but unlike the green anole, it is not native to the state. These lizards were introduced to Florida from Cuba and the Bahamas in the early 1900s and have since become a widespread invasive species.
Brown anoles are similar in appearance to green anoles but can be distinguished by their longer snouts and larger dewlaps (the flap of skin under their chin). They are aggressive towards other lizard species, including green anoles, and have been known to outcompete them for resources.
The Knight Anole is One of the Largest Lizards Found in Florida
The knight anole, also known as the Cuban giant anole or simply giant anole, is one of the largest lizards found in Florida. These impressive reptiles can grow up to 13 inches long with males being larger than females.
Knight anoles are native to Cuba but were introduced to Florida as pets or escaped captives. They are arboreal (tree-dwelling) lizards that feed on insects and small animals. Their large size makes them formidable predators that can take down prey much larger than themselves.
The Green Iguana Has Become a Common Sight Across South Florida
The green iguana is another non-native species that has become a common sight across South Florida. These large lizards can grow up to six feet long and weigh over 20 pounds! They are herbivores that feed on leaves, flowers, fruits, and vegetables.
Green iguanas are excellent swimmers and can often be seen basking on rocks or tree branches near water sources. However, they are also known for causing damage to buildings and infrastructure by burrowing into foundations or chewing on electrical wires.
18 Most Common Types of Lizards in Florida: ID Guide
Brown Anole: The Most Common Lizard in Florida
The Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei) is the most common lizard species found in Florida. These lizards are small and agile, reaching a length of 5-8 inches. They have a brownish-gray color with a white or yellow underbelly. Brown anoles can be easily identified by their dewlap, which is a flap of skin located under their chin that they use to communicate with other lizards.
Brown anoles are commonly found in urban areas and on trees, bushes, and fences. They are active during the day and feed on insects such as ants, spiders, and beetles. Despite being non-native to Florida, they have adapted well to the environment and have become an important part of the state’s ecosystem.
Green Anole: Another Common Lizard Species in Florida
The Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis) is another common lizard species found in Florida. These lizards are slightly larger than brown anoles, reaching up to 8 inches in length. They have a bright green color that can change depending on their mood or temperature.
Green anoles are arboreal lizards that prefer living on trees and shrubs near water sources such as ponds or swamps. They feed on insects like crickets, moths, and grasshoppers.
One interesting fact about green anoles is that they can detach their tails when threatened by predators as a defense mechanism. The detached tail will continue to wiggle for several seconds after detaching from the lizard’s body, distracting predators while the lizard escapes.
Common Agama: An Invasive Species Threatening Native Lizards
The Common Agama (Agama agama) is an invasive species originally from Africa that has become established in South Florida. These lizards can grow up to 15 inches in length and have a distinctive orange or reddish-brown color with black stripes.
Common agamas are aggressive predators that feed on native lizards, insects, and small mammals. They are known to outcompete and displace native species, making them a threat to Florida’s ecosystem.
Knight Anole: The Largest Lizard Species in Florida
The Knight Anole (Anolis equestris) is the largest lizard species found in Florida. These lizards can grow up to 20 inches in length and have a green or brown color with a white stripe running down their back.
Knight anoles are arboreal lizards that prefer living high up in trees. They feed on insects like crickets, moths, and grasshoppers as well as small vertebrates like frogs and other lizards.
One interesting fact about knight anoles is that they have been known to eat small birds, making them one of the few reptiles that prey on birds.
Other Common Lizard Species Found in Florida
Aside from the four species mentioned above, there are several other common lizard species found in Florida:
- Mediterranean Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus): A non-native gecko species commonly found around buildings at night.
- Cuban Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei): A non-native brown anole subspecies that has become established in South Florida.
- Bark Anole (Anolis distichous): A small arboreal lizard species commonly found on tree trunks.
- Six-lined Racerunner (Aspidoscelis sexlineatus): A fast-moving ground-dwelling lizard species with six distinctive lines running down its body.
- Southeastern Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon inexpectatus): A small skink species with five distinctive lines running down its body.
- Eastern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus): A ground-dwelling lizard species commonly found on fence posts and tree trunks.
- Southeastern Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon inexpectatus): A small skink species with five distinctive lines running down its body.
- Florida Scrub Lizard (Sceloporus woodi): A small lizard species endemic to Florida’s scrub habitats.
- Green Iguana (Iguana iguana): A non-native iguana species that has become established in South Florida.
Unique and Interesting Lizard Species Found in Florida (Part 1)
Florida is known for its diverse wildlife, with a plethora of unique species that call the state home. Among these are several fascinating lizard species, each with its own distinct characteristics and behaviors.
The Common Lizard Species Found in Florida
The Eastern glass lizard and Island glass lizard are two common species found throughout Florida. These legless lizards can be challenging to spot due to their camouflaging abilities. The Eastern glass lizard is known for its long, slender body, which can grow up to 3 feet in length. It has a shiny appearance due to its smooth scales and can range from brown to gray or black in color.
On the other hand, the Island glass lizard has an orange head and can be found primarily in coastal areas. Its body is covered with small scales that overlap like shingles on a roof, giving it a rough texture. Both of these species are non-venomous and harmless to humans.
Identifying Characteristics of Eastern Glass Lizard
One of the most unique features of the Eastern glass lizard is its lack of legs. Instead, it moves by slithering across surfaces using its strong muscles. The Eastern glass lizard also has a pointed tail that makes up about two-thirds of its total length. This tail serves as an important defense mechanism against predators; when threatened, the lizard can detach its tail from its body and escape while the predator is distracted by the wriggling tail.
Another identifying characteristic of this species is their diet; they feed mainly on insects such as crickets and grasshoppers but will also eat small rodents if given the opportunity. They have sharp teeth that allow them to grasp onto prey tightly before swallowing whole.
Oustalet’s Chameleon: A Unique Lizard Species
While glass lizards may be the most common lizard species found in Florida, there are also some unique and rare species that call the state home. One such species is the Oustalet’s chameleon, which is native to Madagascar but has been introduced to parts of Florida. This lizard can grow up to 2 feet in length and has a distinctive crest of spines running down its back.
Oustalet’s chameleons are known for their ability to change color, which they use as a form of communication and camouflage. They have long tongues that they use to capture prey, which mainly consist of insects but can also include small reptiles and mammals.
Unique and Interesting Lizard Species Found in Florida (Part 2)
Cuban Green Anole
The Cuban green anole is a small lizard species that can grow up to 8 inches in total length. They are known for their head crest, which is a unique feature that sets them apart from other anole species. These lizards are typically bright green in color, but they can change their color to brown or gray depending on their mood or surroundings.
Cuban green anoles are found throughout Florida and other parts of the southeastern United States. They prefer to live in trees and shrubs, where they can easily hide from predators. These lizards feed on insects and other small invertebrates, making them a valuable part of the ecosystem.
The Nile monitor is a large and aggressive lizard species that can grow up to 7 feet in total length. They have broad heads and powerful jaws that allow them to catch and eat prey such as fish, birds, and mammals. These lizards are native to Africa but have been introduced to Florida, where they have become an invasive species.
Nile monitors are known for their aggressive behavior towards humans and other animals. They can be dangerous if provoked or cornered, so it’s important to give them plenty of space if you encounter one in the wild. If you see a Nile monitor on your property, it’s best to contact a professional wildlife removal service rather than trying to handle it yourself.
The tailed lizard is a skink species with short legs and an original tail that can break off easily as a defense mechanism. When threatened by predators, these lizards will detach their tails as a distraction while they make their escape. The tails will eventually regrow over time.
Tailed lizards are found throughout Florida and other parts of the southeastern United States. They prefer dry habitats such as sandhills and scrublands, where they can burrow into the soil to escape the heat of the day. These lizards feed on insects and other small invertebrates and are an important part of the food chain.
The horned lizard is a small lizard species with a dark stripe down its back and a distinctive horned appearance on its head. These lizards are found throughout Florida and other parts of the southeastern United States. They prefer sandy habitats such as sandhills and dunes, where they can easily blend in with their surroundings.
Horned lizards are known for their unique defense mechanism, which involves shooting blood from their eyes when threatened by predators. This behavior is thought to be a way to deter predators or confuse them long enough for the lizard to make its escape.
The rainbow whiptail is a long-tailed lizard species with a white stripe on its belly that runs from its throat to its tail. These lizards can grow up to 10 inches in total length and are found throughout Florida and other parts of the southeastern United States.
Rainbow whiptails are active during the day and feed on insects and other small invertebrates. They prefer open habitats such as grasslands and savannas, where they can easily spot prey from a distance. These lizards are fast runners and use their long tails for balance when chasing after prey or avoiding predators.
Large and Invasive Lizards in Florida
What are the invasive lizards in Florida?
Florida is home to several species of invasive lizards that pose a threat to native wildlife. One of the largest and most aggressive of these species is the giant anole, also known as the Jamaican giant anole. Originally from Jamaica, these lizards were introduced to Florida as pets but have since established themselves in the wild. They can grow up to 20 inches long and are easily recognizable by their large size and distinctive green coloration.
Other invasive lizard species found in Florida include the Argentine black and white tegu, Nile monitor, and green iguana. These species have also been introduced through the pet trade or accidental release and can cause significant damage to local ecosystems.
What makes giant anoles so invasive?
Giant anoles are highly adaptable and can thrive in a variety of habitats, including urban areas, forests, wetlands, and agricultural fields. They have few natural predators in Florida and can outcompete native species for resources such as food, water, and shelter.
In addition to their competitive nature, giant anoles are also known for their aggressive behavior toward other animals. They will often attack smaller lizards, birds, and even mammals if they feel threatened or need to defend their territory.
How do invasive lizards impact Florida’s ecosystems?
The presence of invasive lizards like giant anoles can significantly impact local ecosystems. By outcompeting native species for resources, they can disrupt food webs and alter habitats. For example, studies have shown that giant anoles preferentially prey on small insects like butterflies and moths which play important roles in pollination.
Invasive lizards can also contribute to the spread of diseases among native wildlife populations. For example, some researchers believe that Argentine black and white tegus may be responsible for transmitting a deadly virus that affects gopher tortoises.
What is being done to control the population of invasive lizards in Florida?
Efforts are underway to control the spread of invasive lizard species in Florida. The state has implemented regulations on the importation and possession of certain species, and wildlife officials regularly conduct surveys to monitor populations.
Researchers are studying methods for controlling invasive lizard populations, such as using traps or introducing natural predators. However, these strategies can be challenging to implement effectively and must be carefully evaluated to avoid unintended consequences.
The Fascinating World of Florida Lizards
Florida is home to a diverse range of lizards, from the common anoles to the unique and invasive species. We’ve also discussed the large and invasive lizards that call Florida their home.
Overall, it’s clear that Florida is a haven for lizard enthusiasts. With so many different species to discover and learn about, there’s always something new to explore. Whether you’re a seasoned herpetologist or just starting out on your lizard journey, there’s no denying that these creatures are fascinating.
So why not take some time to explore the world of Florida lizards for yourself? Whether you’re interested in photography or simply enjoy observing these creatures in their natural habitats, there’s plenty to see and do. Who knows – you might even discover a new favorite species!
Q: Are all Florida lizards dangerous?
A: No, not all Florida lizards are dangerous. While some species may have venomous bites or be aggressive toward humans, most are harmless.
Q: Can I keep a lizard as a pet if I find one in my backyard?
A: It’s generally not recommended to keep wild animals as pets. If you’re interested in owning a lizard as a pet, it’s best to purchase one from a reputable breeder.
Q: How can I tell if a lizard is male or female?
A: The easiest way to determine the sex of a lizard is by looking at its cloaca – males will typically have larger femoral pores than females.
Q: What should I do if I find an invasive lizard species in my backyard?
A: It’s important to report any sightings of invasive lizard species to your local wildlife authorities. Do not attempt to capture or handle the animal yourself.
Q: Can lizards regenerate their tails?
A: Yes, many species of lizards are able to regenerate their tails if they lose them due to predation or other causes.
Q: What do Florida lizards eat?
A: The diet of a Florida lizard will vary depending on the species – some may feed primarily on insects, while others may consume small mammals or even other lizards.
Q: Are there any endangered lizard species in Florida?
A: Yes, several species of lizards in Florida are listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Q: How can I attract lizards to my backyard?
A: Providing a habitat with plenty of hiding places and food sources (such as insects) can help attract lizards to your backyard. You may also consider installing a small water feature for drinking and bathing.
Q: Can I touch a wild lizard if I see one outside?
A: It’s generally not recommended to touch wild animals, including lizards. Not only can this be dangerous for both you and the animal, but it can also cause unnecessary stress and harm.