“What kinds of lizards can you find in Florida?”
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 40 different kinds of lizards in Florida.
#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 Florida.
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. Eastern Fence Lizard
- Sceloporus undulatus
- 1.5 to 3.5 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
- Coloration is highly varied – grayish-white, brown, reddish, and nearly black are all common.
- Females have dark, wavy lines across the back. Males have two patches of blue on the throat.
You’ll likely find the Eastern Fence Lizard in northern Florida in open forests with plenty of fallen logs and debris to hide in. They’re most active during the early morning before it gets too hot.
Eastern Fence Lizards eat twice per day, and their diet is made up of insects like ants, beetles, and grasshoppers. They are foragers, which means they’ll leave their homes searching for food but often return to the same general area at night.
In Florida, the Eastern Fence Lizard has adapted to a small but dangerous threat – imported fire ants!
Bites from fire ants can kill an Eastern Fence Lizard in less than an hour. To combat these non-native insects, these spiny lizards have adapted longer arms and legs, thicker skin, as well as new behaviors like climbing trees to stay out of harm’s way.
#3. Florida Scrub Lizard
- Sceloporus woodi
- 1.5 to 2.5 inches long from snout to vent. (Length does not include the tail)
- Coloring is brown to gray-brown with darker stripes down the back. The throat is black with a white stripe down the middle.
- Dark spots are often present on the white chest, and rust-colored irregular blotches appear on the sides.
As its name suggests, the Florida Scrub Lizard can ONLY be found in Florida.
It lives in citrus groves with open, sandy ground and coastal scrubland with dunes.
Florida Scrub Lizard Range Map:
You can spot this tiny lizard on the beach, but you’ll have to be quick to get more than a glimpse. This shy, nervous species moves fast! One of the easiest ways to spot the Florida Scrub Lizard is to look toward its belly, which has two brilliant turquoise spots. The color is truly amazing!
#4. 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 Florida!
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.
#5. 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 northern Florida 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!
#6. Southeastern Five-Lined Skink
- Plestiodon inexpectatus
- Adults are up to 8.5 inches long.
- 5 light stripes on the body; the overall pattern is most prominent in hatchlings and young individuals.
- The head is brown striped with orange-red, and the tail is purplish, even in adults.
- The stripe pattern consists of one thin stripe in the middle of the back with two dark stripes outlined in white along the sides.
These skinks live in Florida in dry, forested areas.
You may also find them on islands with little vegetation. Southeastern Five-Lined Skinks prefer large insects like grasshoppers as prey.
Some people consider Southeastern Five-Lined Skinks venomous and often refer to them as scorpions.
However, they are harmless to humans and deliver a non-venomous bite only if they feel threatened.
Rest assured that if you find a Southeastern Five-Lined Skink, the only danger is that you might be nipped on the finger!
#7. 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 northern Florida 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.
#8. 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 Florida, 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 Florida. 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!
#9. Mole Skink
- Plestiodon egregius
- Adults are up to 6.5 inches long.
- Noticeably shorter legs than other skink species.
- Light stripes are variable in length, sometimes ending at the shoulders and sometimes continue through the tail.
- The tail can be varied in color, including red, orange, yellow, pink, brown, and even lavender.
The Mole Skink has FIVE Subspecies, the most of all skinks in Florida!
They all prefer rocky areas with piles of debris, including driftwood, shrubbery, and tidal wrack. They eat cockroaches, spiders, and crickets.
- Northern Mole Skink (P. e. similis): The only subspecies found outside of Florida. The tail is red, orange, or reddish-brown.
- Florida Keys Mole Skink (P. e. egregius): Reddish-brown tail and, on males, belly.
- Cedar Key Mole Skink (P. e. insularis): Hatchlings are almost all black with no markings.
- Bluetail Mole Skink (P. e. lividus): Occasionally, the tail fades to salmon but most often remains blue through adulthood. This species is threatened.
- Peninsula Mole Skink (P. e. onocrepis): Tail color is variable; orange, yellow, pink, brown, and lavender are all common.
#10. Florida Sand Skink
- Plestiodon reynoldsi
- Adults are up to 5.25 inches long.
- Limbs are small and reduced to one toe on the front and two on the back.
- Small eyes, a wedge-shaped snout, and an overbite differentiate this sink from others.
- Coloring is white to dark tan, sand-colored.
The Florida Sand Skink is a vulnerable species in Florida.
It ONLY lives in sandy areas of Central Florida.
The Florida Sand Skink’s most fascinating talent is its ability to “swim” through sand! It shimmies with an undulating, burrowing motion.
That’s important for Florida Sand Skinks because their legs are so small they are almost useless for walking!
#11. 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 Florida.
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.
#12. Island Glass Lizard
- Ophisaurus compressus
- 15 to 24 inches long.
- Coloring is brown to tan with dark lines – one on each side and one down the middle of the back.
- The tail is less fragile and more often found intact than with other glass lizards.
Island Glass Lizards in Florida prefer sandy, loose soil in pine scrub forests, coastal islands, and inland pine woods.
Most of the information we know about the Island Glass Lizard is based on information about other types of glass lizards. This is because they are what’s called a “cryptic species,” meaning it’s scarce and studied so infrequently that virtually nothing specific is known about them.
We know that Island Glass Lizards are slightly less prone to tail breakage than others because of those that are found, most still have their original tail.
#13. Eastern Glass Lizard
- Ophisaurus ventralis
- 18 to 43 inches long.
- Coloring is greenish to black, with a light yellow or tan belly.
- Light-colored dots or dashes form irregular rows on the back; no stripes are present.
The Eastern Glass Lizard is at home in many habitats in Florida, including grasslands and pine forests, tropical hardwood groves, and wet meadows.
They eat insects and other invertebrates and forage for food both above ground and below.
Although they can create their own burrows, they use the burrows of other animals more often. For example, it’s common to find Eastern Glass Lizards in the burrows of small rodents like mice and voles or snakes and other lizards.
#14. Mimic Glass Lizard
- Ophisaurus mimicus
- 15 to 26 inches long.
- Coloring is brown to tan with a dark middle stripe that fades toward the tail.
- Smaller than other glass lizards.
Although their name implies they are impostors, Mimic Glass Lizards are part of the same family as other glass lizards.
Mimic Glass Lizards are rare to find in Florida!
These almost impossible-to-find reptiles are usually smaller and darker in color than other glass lizards.
Not much is known about this species other than their general habitat preference of pine forests and grassland. However, one confirmed predator, the Black Racer Snake, can be found in the same habitat and hunts Mimic Glass Lizards.
#15. Florida Wormlizard
- Rhineura floridana
- 7 to 11 inches long.
- The coloring is pinkish-tan without markings.
- The head is lizard-like but with a sunken lower jaw.
This species is arguably the WEIRDEST lizard in Florida!
Its scales encircle its body like thin bands, giving it the appearance of a giant earthworm. It’s a fossorial species, meaning it spends almost all of its time underground.
One adaptation to its underground life is its vestigial eyes, which are unusable and covered by scales!
Florida Wormlizards are almost impossible to find in their habitat because they’re almost always underground, but you might be able to catch a glimpse of one on the side of the road after heavy rain.
#16. 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 Florida.
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 Florida 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! =)
#17. 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 the most widely introduced anole in Florida!
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.
#18. Crested Anole
- Anolis cristatellus
- 4 to 7 inches long.
- Coloring is light brown to grayish-green, sometimes with darker bands on the tail.
- This species has a crest along the back and tail, making it look like a little dragon!
- The dewlap is olive-brown to mustard-yellow and occasionally has orange edges.
Crested Anoles are a non-native species to the US and only live in southern Florida. Look for this species on building walls or low on tree trunks.
They are sold extensively as pets and escaped captives make up a large portion of the population here in the U.S. The bony fan on the back and tail of Crested Anoles makes it look like a dragon, which is one reason they are so popular as pets!
#19. Hispaniolan Green Anole
- Anolis chlorocyanus
- 5 to 8.5 inches long.
- This species has an elongated head and pointed snout, and a round tail.
- Its coloring ranges from brown to green, and sometimes it is mottled with both. Males are most often bright green.
Look for the Hispaniolan Green Anole in Florida near trees, shrubs, and buildings in southern Florida. This species is native to Hispaniola, the island of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
It was introduced to Florida by the import of cultivated palm trees that carried its eggs. You can easily identify a Hispaniolan Green Anole by its dewlap coloring! It’s the only species with a two-toned dewlap: the front near the face is pale grayish-blue, and the back, near the chest, is black to purple.
#20. Hispaniolan Stout Anole
- Anolis cybotes
- 7 to 8 inches long.
- This species is large-headed and stocky, with a round tail.
- The coloring of the Hispaniolan Stout Anole is light brown. Males have dark brown crossbands.
- The dewlap is pale yellow and sometimes has a pale orange center.
Hispaniolan Stout Anoles are sometimes called Large-Headed Anoles in Florida.
They are found low to the ground on tree trunks or human-made structures.
Like its cousin, the Hispaniolan Green Anole, this invasive species is only found in southern Florida here in the U.S. Its native range is Haiti and the Dominican Republic, also called the island of Hispaniola.
#21. Jamaican Giant Anole
- Anolis garmani
- 5.5 to 10.5 inches long.
- This species has a large head and short, tiny spines along the back.
- The coloring is leaf green, but Jamaican Giant Anoles turn dark brown at night.
- The dewlap of males is lemon yellow with an orange center; it is smaller and dusky beige on females.
The Jamaican Giant Anole prefers to live in treetops in heavily forested areas. Though they are huge and brightly colored, they can be tough to spot because they rarely come down to the ground!
As its name suggests, it is native to Jamaica. It was introduced via the exotic pet trade when captive individuals escaped into the wild. The hot and humid southern Florida climate was similar enough that the Jamaican Giant Anole had no trouble establishing a population!
#22. Bark Anole
- Anolis distichus
- 3.5 to 5 inches long.
- The coloring is gray, brown, or green with irregular spots or stripes.
- A dark line appears between the eyes, and the tail has dark crossbands.
- The dewlap is yellow and occasionally has an orange tint.
One look at a Bark Anole will tell you how it got its name! The unique markings on its back make it look distinctly like the bark of a tree covered in lichen or moss.
This introduced species is native to the Bahamas and Hispaniola, but it can be found in southern Florida and the Keys.
Bark Anoles are extremely variable in color, ranging from grass green to pale grayish-brown. There are 11 subspecies, although some of those may be classified as separate species in the future!
#23. Knight Anole
- Anolis equestris
- 13 to 19.5 inches long.
- Knight Anoles have a prominent, bony casque, or ridged indentation, on their head.
- The coloring is most often bright apple green, but some individuals are a dull green or brown.
- The dewlap of this species is very large and typically pink.
Knight Anoles are the largest anole in Florida!
They are native to Cuba but have established populations throughout southern Florida and the Keys. Knight Anoles prefer to live high in trees and rarely come near the ground.
In addition to being the largest species, the Knight Anole is also the most aggressive! It will turn to face any threat and perform a display of dominance, including doing “push up” type movements, unfurling its dewlap, and puffing up its body to appear larger. Interestingly, BOTH males and females will display these behaviors if they feel threatened!
#24. Florida Reef Gecko
- Sphaerodactylus notatus
- 2 to 2.25 inches long.
- Coloring is brown with small dark spots that fade with age.
- Females have three broad stripes on the head that are dark with a lighter middle section.
The Florida Reef Gecko is a native species found ONLY in Southern Florida in the US.
Typically, they can be seen in pine forests, vacant lots, and buildings. Unfortunately, they tend to hide under debris and can be difficult to spot!
Florida Reef Geckos are also sometimes called Brown-speckled Sphaeros.
#25 – #27. Bi-Coastal Geckos
These three non-native Geckos in Florida have all been introduced in Florida and California.
They arrived via agriculture and pet trade, and because they are so well adapted to their environment, they quickly spread throughout their range. They live in urban and suburban areas and are frequently found inside buildings. All three species eat insects, keeping the buildings they inhabit relatively pest-free!
#25. Moorish Wall Gecko
- Tarentola mauritanica
Moorish Wall Geckos are 4.5 to 6 inches long, with spiny skin. They are light yellowish-gray in color. Their native range is Mediterranean, Africa, and Europe.
#26. Ringed Wall Gecko
- Tarentola annularis
Ringed Wall Geckos are 7 to 8 inches long and are dark brown to sandy gray in color. They have splotchy, broken lines on their back in a darker brown color. Their natural range is Northern Africa.
#27. Indo-Pacific Gecko
- Hemidactylus garnotii
Indo-Pacific Geckos are 4 to 5.5 inches long. They are brownish-gray to dark brown with a lemon yellow belly. This species is parthenogenetic, meaning it is all-female, and its offspring are genetic clones of the mother. Its native range is southeast Asia, the East Indies, and the South Sea islands.
#28. 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 Florida is NOT native! The Mediterranean House Gecko was introduced to Florida 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 are some of the most vocal lizards in Florida. 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 Florida, they’re so well-recognized that they belong on any list of geckos in our area.
Introduced Geckos Found ONLY in Florida
I was surprised to find out there’s only ONE native Gecko species in all of Florida! This is hard to believe because so many recognizable geckos live here. But, all the other species are invasive and were introduced from other parts of the world.
Some originally hitched a ride on shipments of ornamental plants, and some were escaped pets. So, here are 12 species of Gecko that have been introduced in Florida and are now permanent residents!
#29. Ocellated Gecko
- Sphaerodactylus argus
Look for the Ocellated Gecko in Key West and on Stock Island. Its native range is the Caribbean islands.
Brown to olive with a reddish tail. White spots that look like eyes dot the neck and back.
#30. Ashy Gecko
- Sphaerodactylus elegans
The Ashy Gecko is found in South Florida and the Keys. Its native range is Cuba.
Reddish to gray-brown, with white or yellow spots. The snout of this species is flat and pointed.
#31. Bibron’s Sand Gecko
- Chondrodactylus bibronii
You will only find the Bibron’s Sand Gecko in two counties in Florida! Though it lives in Bradenton and Manatee counties, its native range is southern Africa.
This species is thick and stout with a large head. Coloring is olive to down with dark crossbands.
#32. Common House Gecko
- Hemidactylus frenatus
You can find the Common House Gecko in southern Florida. However, its native range is Southeast Asia.
Coloring is tan or gray, usually with dark stripes or spots. This species has light lines through the pupil.
#33. Tropical House Gecko
- Hemidactylus mabouia
Look for the Tropical House Gecko in the Florida peninsula and the Keys. Its native range is tropical Africa.
Coloring is uniform pale gray or light brown, with thin, dark crossbands.
#34. Asian Flat-Tailed House Gecko
- Hemidactylus platyurus
Though its native range is Nepal, eastern India, and Southeast Asia, the Asian Flat-Tailed Gecko has scattered populations throughout the Florida peninsula.
The tail of this species is flat and has a serrated edge, making it look similar to an arrowhead or handmade knife.
#35. Mourning Gecko
- Hemidactylus lugubris
The Mourning Gecko is found in southern Florida in the US. Its native range is the Pacific islands.
One of the few all-female gecko species; its young are genetic clones!
#36. Golden Gecko
- Gekko badenii
You will ONLY find the Golden Gecko in Hollywood, Florida! Escaped pets have established a wild population there. Its native range is Vietnam.
The coloring is light gray with a golden tint on the back. Eyes are gold with a thin, black, vertical pupil.
#37. Tokay Gecko
- Gekko gecko
Look for the beautiful Tokay Gecko in southern Florida. Its native range is Southeast Asia.
Up to 14 inches long – the largest Gecko in Florida! Coloring is bluish-gray with red-orange spots.
#38. Madagascan Day Gecko
- Phelsuma grandis
As its name suggests, this species’ native range is Madagascar. In the U.S., they live in South Florida and the Keys.
Coloring is bright green with orange or red spots. This species is one of few geckos with round pupils.
#39. Gold Dust Day Gecko
- Phelsuma laticauda
Gold Dust Day Geckos live in South Florida and the Keys. Their native range is Madagascar.
This species looks similar to the Madagascan Day Gecko with green skin and red and yellow spots, except that it has blue feet!
#40. Yellow-Headed Gecko
- Gonatodes albogularis
Its native range is Central and South America and the Caribbean, but the Yellow-Headed Gecko is also found in South Florida and the Keys.
Males have a yellow head, while females and young are uniformly brown or gray.
Do you need additional help identifying lizards?
Try this field guide!
Which of these lizards have you seen in Florida?
Leave a comment below!
Also, if you enjoy this article, make sure to check out these other guides!