2 Types of Spiny Lizards Found in Mississippi! (ID Guide)

What kinds of spiny lizards are there in Mississippi?”

common spiny lizards in Mississippi

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 Mississippi.


#1. Eastern Fence Lizard

  • Sceloporus undulatus

types of spiny lizards in Mississippi

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’re most likely to find the Eastern Fence Lizard in eastern Mississippi 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 will leave their home in search of food, but often return to the same general area at night.

In Mississippi, 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.

YouTube video

#2. Prairie Lizard

  • Sceloporus consobrinus

species of spiny lizards in Mississippi

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 southwestern Mississippi 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 Mississippi, 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 are hard to catch. If you see one, you’ll probably have more luck observing from a distance than trying to get up close!

YouTube video

Do you need additional help identifying spiny lizards?

Try this field guide!


Which of these spiny lizards have you seen in Mississippi?

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