“What kinds of spiny lizards are there in Florida?”
When you hear the name “spiny lizard”, you might picture an animal with long, sharp spikes like a porcupine. I know I did when I first started learning about spiny lizards!
However, the name refers to the lizards’ pointed scales, which look like deadly spikes but are surprisingly soft to the touch.
Today, you’ll learn about the 2 different kinds of spiny lizards in Florida.
RELATED: The 34 Types of SNAKES That Live in Florida! (ID Guide)
RELATED: The 34 Types of SNAKES That Live in Florida! (With Photos)
#1. 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’re most likely to 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 will leave their home in search of 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.
#2. 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!
Do you need additional help identifying spiny lizards?
Try this field guide!
Which of these spiny lizards have you seen in Florida?
Leave a comment below!