“What kinds of lizards can you find in Texas?”
I was amazed by the number of lizards in the United States – well over 150 species! Some species live only in a small area, and some are widespread over hundreds of miles.
Today, you’ll learn about 44 different kinds of lizards in Texas.
#1. Six-Lined Racerunner
- Aspidoscelis sexlineata
- 2.25 to 3.75 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
- “Dark fields,” or broad stripes in between lighter stripes on whiptails, are brown to black.
- 6-8 light stripes vary in color from white or yellow to gray-blue.
- In males, coloring is much brighter, with greens on the back and light turquoise on the belly.
The Six-Lined Racerunner has the widest range of all lizards in Texas.
They thrive in varied habitats, including grassland, rocky terrain, wooded areas, and even floodplains. So, you have a good chance of seeing one as long as you’re within their range!
Six-Lined Racerunners are insectivores, and their primary food source is termites. However, they also eat beetles, ants, and spiders, so these small whiptails can be handy to have around if you have a pest problem.
The Six-Lined Racerunner lives up to its name, clocking speeds at up to 18 miles per hour! They have no problem outmaneuvering predators and curious humans!
#2. Little Striped Whiptail
- Aspidoscelis inornata
- 2 to 3.5 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
- 6 to 8 stripes range in color from pale yellow to white, and dark fields are brownish-green to black.
- The tail is bluish-purple near the tip, with the coloring brighter in males.
- Blue coloring on the belly is darker toward the tail, fading to light blue or white near the throat.
The Little Striped Whiptail Lizard prefers prairie grassland but is also found in shrubby desert areas in southwest Texas.
It eats insects and their larvae, and also spiders – including tarantulas! This species may be one of the smallest whiptail lizards in Texas, but it’s brave when it comes to dinnertime!
Because of overgrazing and human development of its habitat, the Little Striped Whiptail population is in decline throughout its range.
#3. Common Spotted Whiptail
- Aspidoscelis gularis
- 2.25 to 4.25 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
- The coloring of the body is greenish, sometimes brown. There are 7 or 8 light stripes on the back.
- In the dark stripes, white to yellow-brown spots are present.
- The tail is brown, sometimes with a reddish tint.
Common Spotted Whiptails in Texas are prevalent in prairie grassland and riverbank habitats.
They eat insects like termites, grasshoppers, and moths, as well as spiders.
These whiptail lizards have one of the longest tails in their family! Its tail is often more than three times the length of its body.
Your chances of finding a Common Spotted Whiptail are good because they are not very skittish. You may also know this species by its other common name, the Texas Spotted Whiptail.
#4. Common Checkered Whiptail
- Aspidoscelis tesselata
- 2.5 to 4.5 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
- The upper body is cream or pale yellow, with bold, black markings in the shape of a checkerboard pattern.
- 6 or more pale stripes are visible on the back.
- The belly is off-white with few markings, and the tail is usually brownish, with the checkerboard pattern continuing.
Common Checkered Whiptails live in western Texas in flatlands, canyon slopes, and bluffs. Typically, they can be found around creosote brush or trees like willows, pinion, juniper, and cottonwoods.
Common Checkered Whiptails eat insects, spiders, and centipedes, providing pest control for their habitats!
The origin of this lizard species is an interesting one. Even though it’s an all-female species, most scientists agree it’s actually the result of two whiptail species interbreeding!
#5. Chihuahuan Spotted Whiptail
- Aspidoscelis exsanguis
- 2.5 to 4 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
- 6 light stripes run down the back from head to tail.
- Dark fields are brown or reddish-brown, with light yellow spots.
- Toward the base of the tail and on the hind legs, the spots may be brighter yellow.
The Chihuahuan Spotted Whiptail is at home in canyon bottoms throughout oak and pine forests. However, it sometimes ranges into desert grasslands and scrublands.
Chihuahuan Spotted Whiptail Lizards eat insects, spiders, and even scorpions! The easiest way for you to identify this species is by its location since its appearance can vary depending on where it lives.
Chihuahuan Spotted Whiptails are fast and skittish and will run into rodent burrows at the first sign of a threat. So, you’ll have to be quick to catch a glance!
#6. Marbled Whiptail
- Aspidoscelis marmorata
- Up to 4.25 inches long from snout to vent, with a total length is 8 to 12 inches.
- The coloring is uniform brown or brownish gray.
- Light stripes or bars sometimes break the dark fields into a marbled or checked pattern.
- The belly is light cream or pale yellow with black flecks.
You are likely to find Marbled Whiptail Lizards in western Texas in desert flats or other sandy, open areas.
They eat insects, including termites, beetles, and ants.
If you come across a Marbled Whiptail, the tail coloring is one way to identify whether it’s an adult or a juvenile. Hatchlings and younger individuals have a bright blue tail, which is easy to spot.
The two subspecies of the Marbled Whiptail, the Eastern and Western varieties, are similar in size but have different markings. Eastern Marbled Whiptails are often striped, while Western Marbled Whiptails show more of a barred, checkerboard pattern.
#7. Gray Checkered Whiptail
- Aspidoscelis dixoni
- 2.5 to 4.25 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
- Coloring is grayish toward the head and orange-brown toward the tail.
- Rows of dark square spots line the back, giving this lizard its characteristic “gray checkered” appearance.
- Orange-brown coloring on the back usually extends to the tail.
This species is one of the most challenging species of whiptails to find in Texas.
They prefer sandy or gravelly soil and are seldom found in developed areas or on popular trails. In addition, their range is so small that they’ve only been located in two counties in the US!
They are also fast, alert, and wary of danger, darting around and pausing for only moments to capture an insect or look around. If you find one and are quick enough to take a photo, consider yourself a first-rate herpetologist (or very lucky)!
#8. Plateau Spotted Whiptail
- Aspidoscelis scalaris
- Up to 4.25 inches long from snout to vent with a total length is 8 to 12.5 inches.
- Coloring is brownish-green with rusty orange at the base of the tail.
- Light stripes run down the back but end before the tail.
- The middle stripe is often wavy and obscured by spots.
Plateau Spotted Whiptail Lizards have a small range in Texas.
If you find yourself in southwest Texas, look for them in mountains, desert foothills, and canyons with sparse plant life.
Unlike other whiptail species, they are dietary generalists and will eat insects as well as flowers and leaves. They are even known to eat dandelions!
The Plateau Spotted Whiptail Lizard is ONLY found in the Big Bend region of Texas in the US. Despite its small range, its population is abundant. You may even see one on a suburban sidewalk during daylight hours!
#9. Prairie Lizard
- Sceloporus consobrinus
- 3.5 to 7.5 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
- Coloring is light reddish-brown with a light brown stripe down the spine.
- Orange or red coloring on the lips and chin is sometimes present.
Look for Prairie Lizards in Texas in habitats with lots of places to perch, including open forests, tall grass fields, or even dunes. Their diet is made up of insects and spiders they can easily subdue.
Prairie Lizard Range Map:
These spiny lizards are one of the best climbers in their family! In Texas, Prairie Lizards spend most of their time off the ground perched in trees, on fences, and even on sunflowers.
In addition to climbing, Prairie Lizards can run so fast that they’re hard to catch. If you see one, you’ll probably have more luck observing from a distance than trying to get up close!
#10. Dunes Sagebrush Lizard
- Sceloporus arenicolus
- 2 to 2.75 inches long from snout to vent. (Length does not include the tail)
- Coloring is light yellowish brown with no pattern except for two grayish lines on the back.
- Blue patches on the throat and belly are much less pronounced than other spiny lizards.
The Dunes Sagebrush Lizard has the most specific habitat of any spiny lizard in Texas.
It only lives in a small area of dunes created by shinnery oak trees. It uses the sand and the root systems of the trees to create burrows to hide in and escape uncomfortable temperatures.
When out of their borrows, Dunes Sagebrush Lizards spend their time basking in “blowouts,” which are crater-like holes in the sand.
The small range of the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard is threatened by cattle grazing and oil industry development, which causes damage to shinnery oak trees and the introduction of invasive species.
#11. Crevice Spiny Lizard
- Sceloporus poinsettii
- 3 to 5.5 inches long from snout to vent. (Length does not include the tail)
- Coloring is yellowish with a thick black collar bordered with white and thick, dusky bands down the back.
- Scales are pointed and keeled (raised in the center), giving this species a particularly spiky look.
As their name suggests, Crevice Spiny Lizards live in rocky areas with plenty of cracks and crevices.
Crevice Spiny Lizard Range Map:
They are very timid, so you would be very lucky to see one of these spiny lizards in the wild! They are so nervous and skittish, they have been known to climb straight up a rock face to escape a threat!
Crevice Spiny Lizards also find their food- mainly insects and spiders- in the cracks of their rocky habitat.
Females have the interesting ability to carry their eggs until they hatch, instead of laying them in a nest! There aren’t many places in its habitat suitable for burying eggs, so this adaptation is truly necessary!
#12. Twin-Spotted Spiny Lizard
- Sceloporus bimaculosus
- 5 to 5.5 inches long from snout to vent. (Length does not include the tail)
- Coloring is pale gray to brown or straw. Dark lines run from the corners of the eyes down the back.
- Males have two long blue-green patches on the sides that females lack.
The Twin-Spotted Spiny Lizard prefers a semi-arid desert habitat and usually lives near thickets, rock formations, or old buildings.
Twin-Spotted Spiny Lizard Range Map:Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS
The Twin-Spotted Spiny Lizard is one of the largest spiny lizards in Texas!
Even for a lizard, it has a strikingly long tail. It can be up to twice as long as the lizard’s body and ends in a sharp point.
#13. Canyon Lizard
- Sceloporus merriami
- 2 to 2.5 inches long from snout to vent. (Length does not include the tail)
- Coloring often matches the boulders of its habitat – gray, tan, or reddish-brown. Vertical black bars are present on the shoulders.
- Males have two large blue belly patches edged in black.
The Canyon Lizard can ONLY be found in Texas.
Canyon Lizard Range Map:
It has three distinct subspecies, all with slight variations in coloring. The subspecies are Merriam’s Canyon Lizard, Big Bend Canyon Lizard, and Presidio Canyon Lizard.
All three subspecies have a throat fold, which is unique in spiny lizards.
The easiest way to tell the difference between the three subspecies of the Canyon Lizard is location; their ranges are close together in Texas but don’t overlap.
#14. Texas Spiny Lizard
- Sceloporus olivaceus
- 3.5 to 4.75 inches long from snout to vent. (Length does not include the tail)
- Coloring is gray to rusty brown with light stripes along the sides and wavy bars across the back.
- Males have narrow light-blue patches on the sides.
The Texas Spiny Lizard range is limited in Texas.
However, it’s very widespread and abundant in its habitat.
Texas Spiny Lizard Range Map:
Texas Spiny Lizards are habitat generalists, which means they can live in almost any habitat. However, they prefer high perches and live in trees and patches of prickly pear cactus, on fences, in old bridges, and even in abandoned houses!
#15. Graphic Spiny Lizard
- Sceloporus grammicus
- 1.5 to 3 inches long from snout to vent. (Length does not include the tail)
- Coloring is gray to olive-gray without distinct markings.
- Males sometimes have a metallic-green luster to their back scales.
The Graphic Spiny Lizard, sometimes called the Mesquite Lizard, can ONLY be found in extreme southern Texas.
Graphic Spiny Lizard Range Map:
This tiny lizard lives primarily in mesquite trees and some other scrubby tree varieties. Graphic Spiny Lizards, like most other lizards, prefer to eat insects like ants and beetles.
Graphic Spiny Lizards have a much rounder head than most other spiny lizards, which is one way to tell them apart from similar species.
#16. Rose-Bellied Lizard
- Sceloporus variabilis
- 1 to 2.25 inches long from snout to vent. (Length does not include the tail)
- Coloring is buff to olive-brown, with two rows of brown spots on the sides. Males have pink spots edged in dark blue on the belly.
- Skin pockets behind the thighs create folds near the base of the tail.
The Rose-Bellied Lizard is found in arid deserts in Texas.
Look for them on fenceposts or cactus. They are extremely well-adapted to sharing space with humans and often bask out in the open along trails.
Rose-Bellied Lizards have a fascinating defensive strategy.
Their tails are easily broken off and can regenerate! This is useful if a predator grabs on – even if they get a bite, the Rose-Bellied Lizard can still escape!
#17. Blue Spiny Lizard
- Sceloporus cyanogenys
- 4 to 6 inches long from snout to vent. (Length does not include the tail)
- Male coloring is metallic greenish-blue over dark brown, with bronze coloring on the legs and pairs of light spots along the back.
- Females are gray to brown without metallic coloring, but they do have pairs of light spots as in the males.
This species is the largest spiny lizard in Texas, growing up to 14 inches long!
Blue Spiny Lizards prefer to live in rocky areas with plenty of hiding places since their size and coloring make them conspicuous to predators. Interestingly, they can sever their tail and regenerate it if a predator latches on!
Blue Spiny Lizard Range Map:
Blue Spiny Lizards have a small population in Texas, but their gray-blue coloring and large size make them recognizable if you find one.
#18. Great Plains Skink
- Plestiodon obsoletus
- Adults are up to 13 inches long.
- Coloring ranges from light gray or olive to tan with darker brown markings.
- The tail and feet are usually pale yellow or orange, and the belly is often marked with salmon.
- Young individuals are black with an iridescent blue tail and gold spots on the head.
Great Plains Skinks in western Texas are frequently found in prairie grassland with open, low-growing plants. However, they occasionally also live in woodland or semi-arid desert areas.
Great Plains Skinks are very aggressive if threatened!
They hide under rocks, shrubs, or logs but are likely to bite if they are disturbed or handled. So, if you happen to find one, observe with caution!
In addition, they’re aggressive hunters and will eat insects, snails, spiders, and even other lizards.
#19. Many-Lined Skink
- Plestiodon multivirgatus
- Adults are up to 7.5 inches long.
- The tail is much longer than the body compared to other skinks: roughly 1 to 1.5 times as long.
- Light and dark stripes run the length of the body.
- During the breeding season, many males develop orange or red lips.
Many-Lined Skinks in western Texas prefer areas with water or moist soil.
They live in various habitats, from mountain areas to vacant lots and even city dumps! Their primary food source is ant larvae and other insects.
Young Many-Lined Skinks have bright blue tails. A uniquely colored tail is a defensive strategy that helps attract predators away from the skink’s body! If a predator tries to bite or grab the skink, it can drop its tail and escape!
There are two subspecies of this skink.
- Northern Many-Lined Skink (P.m. multivirgatus) generally has more well-defined stripes and is almost always gray and black.
- Variable Skink (P.m. epipleurotus) comes in a variety of colors and patterns. The subspecies’ ranges don’t overlap, and some scientists consider them two separate species!
#20. Coal Skink
- Plestiodon anthracinus
- Adults are up to 7 inches long.
- Four light stripes run the length of the body and a portion of the tail.
- Juveniles are sometimes all black with no markings.
- During the breeding season, some males develop reddish blotches on the sides of the head.
Coal Skinks are one of the most secretive, shy skinks in Texas!
They are hard to find because they spend much of their time under rocks, leaf litter, or fallen logs. Coal Skinks prefer moist, humid areas and live on hillsides with nearby streams.
If you spot a Coal Skink, you can identify it by the lack of a middle stripe on its back.
Two subspecies, the Northern Coal Skink (P.a. anthracinus) and the Southern Coal Skink (P.a. pluvialis), are scattered throughout the US.
#21. Common Five-Lined Skink
- Plestiodon fasciatus
- Adults are up to 8.75 inches long.
- 5 stripes are most apparent in hatchlings and fade as the skinks grow.
- Males have orange-red coloring on the jaw during the breeding season.
- Hatchlings are black with light stripes. The black coloring often fades to gray, and the lighter stripes darken.
Look for Common Five-Lined Skinks in eastern Texas in wooded areas near rotting stumps, outcrops of rock, and sometimes piles of boards or sawdust. Its diet consists of spiders, beetles, crickets, and other insects.
Females attend to their eggs throughout the incubation period.
They spend almost all of their time defending and caring for the eggs until they hatch!
If you happen to come across a nest, you may notice the mother curled up on top of or around the eggs. She also rolls the eggs to maintain their humidity, moves them back to the nest if they become disturbed, and even eats eggs that aren’t viable!
#22. Broad-Headed Skink
- Plestiodon laticeps
- Adults are up to 12.75 inches long.
- Coloring in males is uniform brown or olive. Females often keep some form of stripes that are more apparent in hatchlings.
- The tail is gray in adults and blue in young.
- Males develop orange-red coloring on the jawline during the breeding season. Sometimes the entire head turns bright orange.
Look for Broad-Headed Skinks in eastern Texas in swamp forests, woodlands, or vacant lots with debris.
You can easily recognize this species by its triangular head!
Broad-Headed Skinks are one of the few skink species at home among trees! They will often climb trees for cover and protection from predators. They forage on the ground for their food, searching leaf litter and debris for insects and spiders.
#23. Southern Prairie Skink
- Plestiodon obtusirostris
- Adults are up to 8 inches long.
- Coloring is brown to tan with a dark stripe bordered in white along each side.
- The stripes usually fade with age, and older, larger individuals may be almost uniformly brown.
- Hatchlings and young have blue tails.
The Southern Prairie Skink prefers streambeds for its habitat, and you can generally find them near clumps of prickly pear cactus. They are quick to hide from predators and eat small insects. Because of their skittish nature, it can be hard to find this species in the wild.
Some scientists consider the Southern Prairie Skink and the Northern Prairie Skink subspecies. But their ranges don’t overlap, and they’re different enough in appearance that full species status is generally given to both.
#24. Little Brown Skink
- Scincella lateralis
- Adults are up to 5.75 inches long.
- Coloring is golden-brown to almost black with dark stripes that usually blend in with the main body color.
- The belly is white, sometimes with a yellowish cast.
In Texas, they’re often called Ground Skinks because they live on the forest floor.
They can also be found in gardens and urban areas with lots of debris or litter to hide in.
Believe it or not, Little Brown Skinks have the interesting talent of seeing with their eyes closed! But honestly, it just looks like their eyes are closed. Technically, they have a window in their lower eyelids that allows them to see at all times.
That’s a very handy adaptation for one of the smallest reptiles in Texas. The Little Brown Skink has many predators, including snakes, larger lizards, and birds of prey. When they try to sneak up on a “sleeping” Little Brown Skink, often the skink can run away using the element of surprise!
#25. Texas Horned Lizard
- Phrynosoma cornutum
- 2.5 to 5 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
- Coloring can vary from yellow to reddish or gray-brown, with a light stripe on the back.
- In addition to the two long central horns, two rows of spiky scales, called fringe scales, line the sides of the body.
The Texas Horned Lizard is best known for shooting blood from its eyes to defend against predators!
These reptiles are even able to aim the foul-tasting blood directly into the predator’s mouth! Talk about biting off more than you can chew!
Texas Horned Lizards are found in Texas in open, sandy land without much plant life. Some cactus or mesquite may be present, but their habitat is mostly rocky with loose soil or sand to burrow in and lay eggs. They can lay clutches of up to 50 eggs at a time!
Texas Horned Lizard Range Map:
Almost the entire diet of the Texas Horned Lizard is made up of ants. However, they do occasionally eat beetles and grasshoppers.
These gorgeous lizards also make popular pets and unfortunately, many have been released outside of their normal range. Natural populations are threatened because of habitat loss, the introduction of fire ants, and pesticide use.
#26. Greater Short-Horned Lizard
- Phrynosoma hernandesi
- 1.75 to 4.75 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
- Coloring is beige, tan, or reddish, speckled with white. There are large brown blotches on the neck and sides.
- Horns are short and stubby, located on the back of the head and each side.
Greater Short-Horned Lizards live in far western Texas in shortgrass prairies and the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Their habitat is generally semi-arid, with long dry spells and infrequent but heavy rain.
Greater Short-Horned Lizard Range Map:
Ants are a primary food source for Greater Short-Horned Lizards, but they have a varied diet. They also eat grasshoppers, beetles, wasps, caterpillars, spiders, and even snails!
This species is one of only two types of horned lizards in Texas that gives birth to live young!
And you may not believe this, but they can produce up to 48 babies in one birth!
#27. Round-Tailed Horned Lizard
- Phrynosoma modestum
- 1.5 to 2.75 inches long from snout to vent. (Length does not include the tail)
- Coloring ranges from ash white, gray, or light brown to reddish.
- Body shape is very rounded and toad-like, with a slim, round tail.
Round-Tailed Horned Lizards in western Texas prefer to live in areas with rocky soil, where they camouflage among pebbles and gravel. Trees in their habitat include cedar, mesquite, and ponderosa pine.
Round-Tailed Horned Lizard Range Map:
Though ants are Round-Tailed Horned Lizards’ main food source, they also eat termites, caterpillars, and beetles. Predators of the species include coyotes and birds of prey.
Round-Tailed Horned Lizards can match their coloring with the soil of their habitat!
That is why individuals can be all different shades and colors.
Its most common defensive strategy is to freeze and blend in with the rocks around it! This horned lizard even has a humped back and bumpy skin that helps with this defense.
#28. Slender Glass Lizard
- Ophisaurus attenuatus
- 22 to 47 inches long.
- Coloring is generally brown to black, with whitish markings in the middle of the scales.
- Younger individuals have dark stripes along the back and sides, and older individuals develop faint crossbands.
Slender Glass Lizards live in dry grasslands and open forests in eastern Texas.
They eat insects, spiders, small rodents, and small lizards. However, unlike snakes, they do not have flexible jaws, which means they can only eat prey smaller than their head!
Glass lizards are named for their extremely fragile tails, which can break off even without being touched. Slender Glass Lizards are rarely found with their original tail intact because they break so often! If you notice that the end of its tail is tan with no stripes, you can be sure the lizard lost its original tail.
You’re likely to find a Slender Glass Lizard in animal burrows or piles of debris.
There are two subspecies:
- Western Slender Glass Lizards (O. attenuatus attenuatus) have shorter tails.
- Eastern Slender Glass Lizards (O. attenuatus longicaudus) have longer tails.
#29. Long-Nosed Leopard Lizard
- Gambelia wislizenii
- Up to17 inches long, including the tail.
- This species is large, with a round body and tail, and a large head.
- Coloring is gray, pink, brown, or yellowish-brown with dark spots.
- Long-Nosed Leopard Lizards have two color phases:
- Dark phase – coloring is nearly as dark as the spots on its back, hiding them from view.
- Light phase – coloring is as above with spots clearly defined.
Long-Nosed Leopard Lizards live in dry climates with little vegetation. They prefer rocky outcroppings for basking and avoid dense grass or shrubs because it limits their running ability.
This lizard is quick!
It runs on its back legs in a short burst to escape predators and to ambush prey. One report even says the Long-Nosed Leopard Lizard can reach Mach-1 or the speed of sound – but this could be a bit of an exaggeration. 🙂
Long-Nosed Leopard Lizards are ambush predators by nature. But, they’re also omnivorous and have one of the most varied diets of all the lizards in Texas! Their diet includes soft leaves, blossoms, berries, insects of all kinds, spiders, lizards, small rodents, and even juvenile snakes!
#30. Common Side-Blotched Lizard
- Uta stansburiana
- 1.5 to 2.5 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
- Coloring is brownish, occasionally blue-gray, with a blue to black blotch on either side of the chest.
- In the light color phase, this species often has white speckles dotting its back.
Common Side-Blotched Lizards are comfortable in many different habitats. Look for them in sandy, rocky, or hardpan soil with grass, shrubs, and trees. They are abundant in their range and easy to find by concentrating on the ground where they spend most of their time.
There are three separate morphs of the male Side-Blotched Lizard, and interestingly, this plays a huge role in the mating habits of this species.
They employ a Rock-Paper-Scissors mechanism with one morph being dominant over the second (like paper over rock) but not over the third (like scissors cutting paper). The result of this unique mechanism is a “rotation” of the most common morph each breeding season! The three morphs are listed below:
- Orange-throated males are the largest and most dominant morph and often breed with harems of females in a single season. They outmaneuver and intimidate blue-throated males, but are often outwitted by yellow-throated males that mimic females.
- Blue-throated males are intermediate in size and generally only breed with one female during a mating season. Therefore, they’re less likely to be fooled by a yellow-throated male but often are “beat out” for mating by orange-throated males.
- Yellow-throated males mimic female Side-blotched Lizards when confronted with other male morphs. In this way, they often escape the aggression of orange-throated males but can’t easily “steal” a female from a blue-throated male.
#31. Ornate Tree Lizard
- Urosaurus ornatus
- 1.5 to 2.25 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
- Coloring ranges from dark brown and black to tan or gray.
- Dusky crossbands or blotches are common.
- In males, the throat is orange, yellow, green, or pale blue, and there are blue patches on the belly. The throat is white, orange, or yellow in females, and the belly is white or tan.
Ornate Tree Lizards prefer to live near riverbanks in desert and foothill regions.
Despite its name, this species spends most of its time perched on rocks. In fact, you can even find them in treeless areas in their range! However, occasionally they will climb trees if they are startled or searching for food.
Ornate Tree Lizards are very well adapted to developed land, and their numbers are steady even in highly populated areas. This is a bit surprising, considering they have one of the shortest lifespans of all the lizards in Texas! They rarely live longer than three years.
#32. Green Anole
- Anolis carolinensis
- 5 to 9 inches long.
- This species has an elongated head, pointed snout, and round tail.
- The coloring ranges from all green to mottled green and brown to all brown with a white belly and lips.
- The dewlap, or extendable throat fan, is usually pink but ranges in color: white, light gray, magenta, blue, and purple are common.
Green Anoles are the ONLY species of anole native to Texas.
They primarily live in trees and are excellent climbers. Look for them high in trees and shrubs in forested areas or on buildings and fences in urban settings. The introduction of the Brown Anole has altered their behavior, making them almost exclusively arboreal.
An invasive species, the Cuban Green Anole (Anolis porcatus), is so similar to our native Green Anole that DNA testing is the only way to distinguish between them! The two species interbreed in areas where they both occur. Cuban Green Anoles in Texas have a limited range, so if you find a Green Anole, it’s most likely native!
Anoles are sometimes called American Chameleons because of their ability to change color. Although they aren’t in the same family as chameleons, they adjust their coloring in response to many factors, including emotion, activity level, temperature, and humidity.
Green Anoles and other species of anoles have dewlaps, which are colorful throat fans they can extend to communicate. This feature makes them look a bit like tiny dinosaurs! =)
#33. Brown Anole
- Anolis sagrei
- 5 to 8.5 inches long.
- Brown Anoles have a stocky build and a slightly flattened tail.
- The coloring is brown, sometimes with yellow spots – this species is never green.
- The dewlap is red-orange with white borders.
Brown Anoles are a non-native lizard in Texas.
Look for them on tree trunks and rocks close to the ground or in open grassy areas.
The Brown Anoles’ native range is Cuba, the Bahamas, and Little Cayman Island. Their population and range exploded when they were introduced in shipments of cultivated plants in the 1970s.
They established themselves so quickly that native Green Anoles had to change their behavior to survive. Because Brown Anoles eat Green Anoles and compete with them for food and territory, they’ve taken over ground habitats and pushed Green Anoles up into the trees.
#34. Eastern Collared Lizard
- Crotaphytus collaris
- 3-4.75 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
- This lizard has a large, broad head and chunky body with a round tail.
- There are two dark collars on the neck, a thinner one near the head and a thicker one near the body.
- Coloring is variable: greenish-blue, olive, brown, or yellow are all common. Females are generally darker and less colorful.
Eastern Collared Lizards can be found in Texas in desert shrubland, open juniper-pinon forest, and grassland. They prefer areas with rocks for basking, open space for running, and lots of sunlight.
The Eastern Collared Lizard is wildly territorial!
Adult males will not live in the same area, and if they’re placed in the same enclosure, they’ll fight to the death. You might see them displaying dominance by standing on their hind legs, inflating their throat, and weaving from side to side.
Eastern Collared Lizards aren’t just aggressive toward one another – they’re also powerful predators! Their sharp teeth and strong jaws make catching a meal easy. They have been known to eat large insects, reptiles, and even other Collared Lizards!
#35. Reticulate Collared Lizard
- Crotaphytus reticulatus
- Up to 5.5 inches long from snout to vent. (Length does not include the tail)
- Coloring is yellowish, with dots that form its characteristic fishnet pattern. The dots range in color from light tan to black.
- Males have black bars on the neck and bright yellow chest markings when breeding.
- Breeding females have brick red bars on the back and sometimes a pink tint to the throat.
This species is the only type of collared lizard that is not restricted to rocky habitats.
They live in desert scrubland, mesquite groves, and prickly pear cactus patches. They prefer hot, sunny weather, and you can usually see them basking in the heat of the day.
Reticulate Collared Lizards are easy to spot in southern Texas because of their unique pattern.
However, you’ll have difficulty finding one because this is the only Collared Lizard species whose population is threatened. Their range is in decline because of the loss of their habitat due to human development.
#36. Common Lesser Earless Lizard
- Holbrookia maculata
- Up to 2.75 inches long from snout to vent, and 4 to 5.25 inches total.
- Tan to brown with pale stripes along the back.
- Males have pairs of black bars behind the arms, which females typically lack.
- Gravid (pregnant) females develop pink, yellow, or orange coloring on their backs.
Common Lesser Earless Lizards are found in western Texas in tallgrass prairie with sandy soil.
They are highly camouflaged and almost impossible to see on the ground unless they’re moving.
If you do spot a Common Lesser Earless Lizard, you might notice that it doesn’t have ear openings like other lizards! This is an adaptation that allows it to spend most of its life burrowed under the loose soil of its habitat.
There are up to NINE distinct subspecies of the Lesser Earless Lizard! However, there’s some disagreement in the scientific community about whether all subspecies deserve a separate name. They’re all very similar in looks, and more research is needed.
#37. Greater Earless Lizard
- Cophosaurus texanus
- Up to 3.5 inches long from snout to vent, and 6 to 7 inches total.
- The tail is long and flat, and the body is slim.
- Coloring is generally matched to the soil color of its habitat, which is gray-brown to slate.
Greater Earless Lizards in Texas avoid extreme elevations both above and below sea level.
You are likely to find them in middle elevations, which is where cactus, mesquite trees, and creosote brush grow.
They eat grasshoppers, caterpillars, wasps, and other insects. Greater Earless Lizards are athletic runners and sometimes curl their tails over their bodies when they are moving quickly!
There are two subspecies:
- Chihuahuan Earless Lizard (C.t. scitulus) Males of this subspecies can be extremely colorful, with pinkish-orange on the upper back and yellowish-green to blue on the lower back. This coloring appears rainbow-like on some individuals!
- Texas Earless Lizard (C.t. texanus) Less colorful than their bright cousins. They generally match the soil of their surroundings.
#38. Spot-Tailed Earless Lizard
- Holbrookia lacerata
- Up to 3 inches long from snout to vent, and 4.5 to 6 inches total.
- Coloring is tan to brown, with dark spots bordered in white on the back.
- Dark spots, without a white border, appear on the underside of the tail.
Spot-Tailed Earless Lizards in Texas prefer arid desert habitats with prickly pear cactus and mesquite trees.
They have a much more flattened, broad body than other earless lizards.
Both subspecies, Northern and Southern Spot-Tailed Earless Lizards, are only found in Texas. The northern subspecies’ spots are fused on the tail, while the spots on the southern subspecies remain distinct.
#39. Keeled Earless Lizard
- Holbrookia propinqua
By William L. Farr – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
- Up to 2.5 inches long from snout to vent, and 4.5 to 5.5 inches total.
- Coloring is tan to brown with dark blotches and stripes.
- Males have two dark bars on their belly surrounded by blue.
- The tail is noticeably longer than the body in this species, and the scales are keeled or ridged in the middle.
The Keeled Earless Lizard lives primarily on sand dunes and barrier island beaches in Texas.
If you find one, you’ll notice that its scales are different from other earless lizards. They have keels, or small ridges, in the middle of each scale, similar to an alligator!
Keeled Earless Lizards live only in southern Texas, either in coastal areas or along sandy streambeds.
Their lack of an ear-opening and hardened scales are useful in this habitat because they prevent sand from getting into their bodies when they burrow.
#40. Texas Alligator Lizard
- Gerrhonotus infernalis
- Up to 8 inches long from snout to vent, and total body length is 10 to 16 inches.
- Coloring is light yellow to reddish-brown, with irregular light-colored lines on the back.
- The back scales are large and platelike.
- Young are dark brown to black, with striking white irregular lines and a tan head.
Look for Texas Alligator Lizards in western Texas on rocky hillsides or wooded canyons.
They eat insects primarily, but will also eat smaller birds and their eggs.
Texas Alligator Lizards are one of the very few lizards that mate year-round! As a result, they lay multiple clutches each year, and each clutch can be up to 30 eggs! That’s a lot of babies!
Luckily, the hatchling Texas Alligator Lizards can survive independently from the time they hatch, so the mother isn’t as busy as you might think.
#41. Texas Banded Gecko
- Coleonyx brevis
- 1.5 to 2.5 inches long.
- Coloring is yellowish-tan with dark, wide bands crossing the body and tail.
- The scales are granular, giving the surface of the skin a sandpaper-like appearance.
Texas Banded Geckos are common in desert grassland and open woodland with plenty of rocks. You’re likely to find them near hillsides and canyons and even on roadways at night. Though they’re good climbers, this species is mostly terrestrial and climbs rocks only to find shelter.
Compared to the size of its body, the female Texas Banded Gecko lays enormous eggs! They are often much wider than the gecko’s body. As you can imagine, the clutch size is tiny; usually, only one or two eggs!
Despite the small reproductive numbers of this species, they are abundant in their range.
#42. Mediterranean House Gecko
- Hemidactylus turcicus
- 1.5 to 2.5 inches long.
- The pupils are vertical, and the eyes are large and round with immovable eyelids.
- This species has two color phases for camouflage.
- Pale phase: the coloring is light pink to pale yellow or white with brown or gray blotches.
- Dark phase: the coloring darkens to gray or brown, obscuring the blotches on the back.
You might be surprised to find out that the most abundant and widespread gecko in Texas is NOT native! The Mediterranean House Gecko was introduced to Texas via imported plants carrying their egg clutches. They’re adaptable to so many environments that their population quickly outpaced any of our native geckos!
Mediterranean House Geckos are nocturnal, but this won’t stop you from being able to find them. They’re considered an “urbanized” species, which means they’re just as happy to live inside your house as they are in the wild!
They eat insects attracted to lights and are commonly found on walls, ceilings, and window screens in homes. Outside, look for them in rock crevices or cracked tree trunks.
In addition to being comfortable around humans, Mediterranean House Geckos in Texas are a vocal species. The mating call of males is a series of clicks, and they frequently make a squeaking noise if threatened.
Even though Mediterranean House Geckos aren’t native to Texas, they’re so well-recognized that they belong on any list of geckos in our area.
#43. Reticulate Banded Gecko
- Coleonyx reticulatus
- 5.5 to 6.75 inches long.
- Coloring is light brown with darker streaks and spots that form a reticulate, or fishnet, pattern.
- The eyes are dark, with immobile eyelids.
Reticulate Banded Geckos are found ONLY in Texas.
It can be easy to confuse them with Texas Banded Geckos because of their similar appearance and location. Still, Reticulate Banded Geckos are larger in size and have a much smaller range.
They will eat nearly any arthropod they can catch, including insects, spiders, and even scorpions. So they definitely aren’t a picky dinner guest!
Like many other gecko species, Reticulate Banded Geckos are vocal and will squeak if they are disturbed or handled.
#44. Rough-Tailed Gecko
- Cyrtopodion scabrum
- 3 to 4.5 inches long.
- Coloring is sandy brown, with dark brown spots that form a striped pattern. The belly is white.
- The tail has dark brown crossbands and is covered in large, keeled scales.
The Rough-Tailed Gecko is a non-native species found only in Galveston, Texas. In fact, it only lives in the buildings immediately surrounding the Galveston commercial shipping docks.
It was introduced to the area as a “hitchhiker” on produce ships and liked the area so much it now has a permanent range there! Its natural range is the western Mediterranean, from Sudan to northwestern India.
Do you need additional help identifying lizards?
Try this field guide!
Which of these lizards have you seen in Texas?
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Also, if you enjoy this article, make sure to check out these other guides!