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Lizards In Florida: Small Lizards In Florida To Look Out For

It is no surprise that the sunshine state of Florida is home to over 68 species of lizards out of 4,675 other species in the world, including chameleons, geckos, iguanas, monitors, Gila monsters, and skinks, which are also belonging to the lizard family.

That is due to the state’s climate being a subtropical environment, perfect for ectothermic or cold-blooded reptiles that rely on their surroundings to keep themselves warm. You have seen them lurking around trees, walls, on the ground, and just about anywhere else.

Sometimes lizards are perceived as a nuisance or would creep people out, but appreciating their beneficial contribution to the ecosystems is vital. Have you seen some? Take a look at this list of 11 Lizards in Florida.


11 Lizards in Florida

Eastern Fence Lizard

Eastern Fence Lizards have rough, pointed scales behind their backs and are gray in color. But females tend to have different colors and patterns than a male. The chins of the male become blue during mating season. They grow about 4-7.5 inches in length and they would hide and feed on insects in dry, open forests places.

They are currently facing minor threats and flooding seems to be their only problem when it comes to affecting their population count. Eastern Fence Lizards are very common in the Southeastern United States and are found all over the panhandle and central Florida.

Green Anole
Green Anole

Green Anole

Green anoles are solid in color and are not only common in Florida, but can also be seen in some parts of the Southeastern United States. Anoles are active during the day in warm weather often seen grabbing insects for food or chasing off rivel anole. They eat spiders and a wide variety of other insects and invertebrates.

Expert Tip: They are able to change their color from green to brown depending on their mood, health, and season. In the winter, they seek shelter under tree bark, shingles, or rotting logs, occasionally returning to the same location.



Scrub Lizard

The Florida scrub lizard is another common lizard found on very xeric, sandy upland habitats like the evergreen oak and sand pine scrubs. They are often found in dry places and not in wetlands. Their number is in danger of dwindling owing to habitat destruction, and the IUCN has classified them as near threatened.

The Ocala National Forest is a popular place for them. They also are sighted on tree trunks and downed logs camouflaging with their pattern and keeled scales. They feed on spiders and insects and have adapted sharp claws to climb trees for them to escape their predators.

Mediterranean House Gecko
Mediterranean House Gecko

Mediterranean House Gecko

Firmly established in Florida, the Mediterranean house geckos were driven north by tropical house geckos that are slightly more aggressive and larger when it comes to size. These two species don’t get along well. You will not find them in similar locations.

Mediterranean geckos were once common throughout the state but because of conflict with the tropical geckos, they are now found in the northern parts of Florida. It is abundant in suburban and urban areas often associated with human development.

Expert Tip: Geckos can vocalize or make squeaky noises in order to warn off predators or to defend their territory.



Tropical House Gecko

Tropical house geckos are widespread in the central and southern parts of Florida. Their estimated size is about 5-7 inches in length. They are just like any other nocturnal lizards. They have sticky toe pads enabling them to climb any surface and appear at night in areas where insects gather to feed on them.

They can change color from brown to white depending on other conditions. They have spike-like scales on their toes called lamellae which also enables them to climb walls and surfaces. They are small creatures and females are larger compared to males.


Green Iguana

The green iguana in Florida is one of the non-native species introduced over the years through pet trading. Owners of these iguanas might have abandoned them to flourish in the environment because they could not handle these big lizards anymore.

They are exotic lizards that do not belong in Florida as they are invasive and are already causing problems in the habitats of other reptiles.

Six-lined Racerunner
Six-lined Racerunner

Six-lined Racerunner (Aspidoscelis Sexlineata)

These lizards are not like many others that climb on trees as they are terrestrial creatures that prefer to be on the ground. In Florida, they can be found in dry areas, coastal dunes, scrubs, and open woodlands.

They are active on the hottest days, then during cold weather, they would likely retreat to burrows to stabilize their body temperature. Their appetite for bugs plays a crucial role in controlling agricultural pests. However, their appetite is small because of their sizes.


Broadhead Skink (Plestiodon Laticeps)

Common in the north and central parts of Florida, these lizards have a heavy body with a monotoned bronze or olive body with an orange head. Their habitat is primarily on the woodlands and forest and their size is about 6-13 inches in length.

Expert Tip: They feed on insects just like any other lizards and because of their large size, they can often consume other small lizards and overpower them including other small mammals as well.



Southeastern Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon Inexpectatus)

These lizards are often quite similar to the common five-lined skink. Found throughout Florida, they are brown in color with five light stripes on their body, younger ones have a blue tail. Male adults have heads that are orange.

They prefer dry areas for habitats such as pine forests. They can be found on trees and or the ground but are less arboreal compared to broadhead skinks. These lizards are difficult to capture as they run fast on logs or trees to hide when it is being pursued.

They also eat a wide variety of insects, spiders, and invertebrates. They can only be found in the southern portion of the eastern United States.

Coal Skink
Coal Skink

Coal Skink (Plestiodon Anthracinus)

It is about 5-7 inches in length and with the appearance of a slender, gray, or brown body with four light-colored stripes extending through its tail. They are elusive species within the minimal range of the Florida panhandle. The male’s head changes color into reddish during the spring mating season.

Young hatches are typically 2 inches long, with a blue tail but a black body, as opposed to adults, who have scarcely visible stripes on their backs. They are difficult to find and would prefer humid habitats with fast-moving waters nearby.

Expert Tip: They are usually hiding under rocks, in vegetations, and will have the tendency to dive into the water if they have been detected. They feed on insects and are active during the day compared to other nocturnal lizards.



Brown Anole

Brown anoles were introduced to Florida in the 1880s, originating from Cuba. They are in competition with the green anoles when it comes to natural resources and habitats. Their reproduction rate is increasing as they prey on young green anoles. They can also be found in some parts of South Georgia.

They are small in size and are not native to Florida. Hence, this causes a threat to the green anoles which are Florida’s only native species. They are not dangerous to humans but will often bite if provoked.

Southeastern Five-lined Skink
Southeastern Five-lined Skink

The most common type of lizard in Florida is Skinks

Skinks are the most common lizard found and native in Florida. The southeastern five-lined skink is the one dominating every part of Florida and as mentioned earlier they possess a beautiful and bright blue tail, making them easy to be spotted on land areas.

Skinks thrive in Florida’s subtropical and moderate environment, which allows them to maintain their body temperature conditions. Ground skinks, which have short legs that resemble a snake rather than a lizard are also part of the skink family. They are fast and often hide in water when chased by their predators.

Expert Tip: Broad-headed skinks are the biggest skinks in Florida, living in wooded regions and climbing tall trees when they sense danger or are scared.



Conclusion

Now we can conclude that Florida encompasses great species of lizards, both native and invasive. They represent a specific kind of genetic diversity that enables them to survive in the changing conditions of their environment. However, the issue about the invasive lizards seems to be alarming as they are a threat to the native ones.

With this, there is competition in terms of food, habitat, and living cycles. Another issue is currently, in the Cayman Islands, where there are huge numbers of green iguanas, part of their population are being subjected to extermination.

This is not the fault of the iguanas but of people who are careless in handling their pets and continuing to be involved in pet tradings. People are the reason why some lizards are displaced from their natural habitat and sadly the animals are the ones paying the price.

With this article, I hope that you can be environmentally literate enough to be responsible for your own actions.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop them down in the comment section below.

About Rencel Leyran