The 3 Types of Lizards in New Jersey! (ID Guide)

What kinds of lizards can you find in New Jersey?”

common lizards in New Jersey

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 3 different kinds of lizards in New Jersey.


#1. Eastern Fence Lizard

  • Sceloporus undulatus

types of lizards in New Jersey

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 New Jersey 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 Lizard Range Map:Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

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 New Jersey, 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.


#2. Common Five-Lined Skink

  • Plestiodon fasciatus

species of lizards in New Jersey

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 New Jersey 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.

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

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!


#3. Little Brown Skink

  • Scincella lateralis

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 New Jersey, 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.

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

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 New Jersey. 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!


Do you need additional help identifying lizards?

Try this field guide!


Which of these lizards have you seen in New Jersey?

Leave a comment below!


Also, if you enjoy this article, make sure to check out these other guides!

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