15 Florida Lizards That Are Native to the Sunshine State (With Pictures!)

Anyone that’s ever been to Florida knows that its hot and humid sub-tropical environment is a mecca for exotic reptilian species, including lizards and chameleons (which actually also are lizards).

Did you know that the Sunshine State is home to over 60 lizard species?!

Perhaps even more surprising than the sheer number of species is that only 15 of those are actually native.

Many of the most common Florida lizards (some of which also live in other places in the U.S., like brown anoles, green iguanas, and geckos, are established invasives.

Some of Florida’s native lizards are quite hard to track down, but they’re the real gems of this tropical paradise.

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Green Anole Anolis carolinensis

Green Anole

Range: Throughout Florida 

Size: 5-8”

Description: Slender, green, smooth skin, long tail

Habitat: Semi-arboreal, bushes, fencelines

The Green Anole, also known as the Carolina Anole or the American Anole, is the only anole species native to Florida. But you can find it in other places throughout the Southeast US, even in Texas.

Their brown, invasive cousins are far easier to find, but these green gems certainly stand out, especially when the males flash their bright red dewlaps.

Green Anoles eat insects primarily (opens in new tab), but they also occasionally sample seeds and grains.

This species is highly territorial, and males can often be seen chasing each other away and exhibiting threat displays.

In captivity, they can be cared for really well – if you know how to do it

Six-lined Racerunner Aspidoscelis sexlineatus

Six-lined Racerunner

Range: Throughout Florida, except southcentral wetlands

Size: 6-10”

Description: Slender, brown or black with six yellow lines running lengthwise down the body, greenish tinge, smooth skin, long tail

Habitat: Mostly terrestrial, loamy terrains, grasslands, woodlands, open floodplains, rocky outcroppings

The six-lined racerunner is native to much of the southeastern United States. There’s even a small, isolated population in Michigan.

It’s an incredibly shy and speedy little lizard, reaching speeds of up to 18 mph when it flees.

Like anoles, this species actively hunts for insects during the daytime.

Island Glass Lizard Ophisaurus compressus

Island Glass Lizard

Range: Throughout Florida, except southcentral wetlands

Size: 15-24”

Description: Legless, tan base color with black down the sides and yellow and black speckling on the sides of the face, looks like a snake with eyelids and ears.

Habitat: Sandy scrub habitats, islands

The Island Glass Lizard may be distinguished from other legless lizard species by two dark stripes running down either side of the lizard’s body and, sometimes, a dark line running down the lizard’s back.

Slender Glass Lizard Ophisaurus attenuatus

Slender Glass Lizard

Range: Throughout Florida, except southcentral wetlands

Size: 22-42”

Description: Legless, brown or black with yellow lengthwise stripes of varying lengths, looks like a snake with eyelids and ears.

Habitat: Dry, sandy coasts

The Slender Glass Lizard is typically thinner than its other legless cousins and features dark speckling down the entire lower sides of its body.

Mimic Glass Lizard Ophisaurus mimicus

Mimic Glass Lizard

Range: Florida Panhandle

Size: 15-26”

Description: Legless, shorter than other glass lizard species, bronze with yellow and black stripes and speckles, looks like a snake with eyelids and ears.

Habitat: Dry longleaf pine flatwoods

This species may be distinguished from other legless lizards by the dark stripes running down the lower half of each side of its body.

Unlike other glass lizard species found throughout Florida, this species is only found in the Florida panhandle.

Eastern Glass Lizard Ophisaurus ventralis

Eastern Glass Lizard

Range: Throughout Florida

Size: 18-43”

Description: Legless, light brown to black with green and yellow speckling, looks like a snake with eyelids and ears.

Habitat: Coastal dunes, sandy coastal plains, and wetlands

Unlike its cousins, this species has no lengthwise stripes on its side or back. Instead, it has a series of irregular white vertical lines behind its head. It is the longest glass lizard species in Florida.

Coal Skink Plestiodon anthracinus

Coal Skink Plestiodon anthracinus

Range: Florida Panhandle

Size: 5-7”

Description: Short legs, slender, shiny, gray or brown with four light-colored stripes, blue tail

Habitat: Along streams, semi-aquatic

This elusive species is an uncommon find in its minimal range of the Florida panhandle and several isolated populations scattered around the eastern half of the United States.

It’s classified as a species of least concern by the IUCN, and it is poorly understood and not well-studied.

They prefer humid habitats along bodies of fast-moving water. They’ll hide amongst rocks, leaf litter, and vegetation, then dive into the water if detected.

This is an insectivorous species that’s active during the day.

Mole Skink Plestiodon egregius

Mole Skink

Range: Throughout Florida, except southcentral wetlands

Size: 3-6”

Description: Tiny, short legs, slender, blue or orange long tail, shiny

Habitat: Hot, dry environments with loose soil

There are currently five recognized subspecies of mole skink. They are:

  • Florida Keys Mole Skink
  • Cedar Key Mole Skink
  • Bluetail Mole Skink
  • Peninsula Mole Skink
  • Northern Mole Skink

This species is entirely terrestrial and even semi-fossorial. They never climb, but they can be found hidden under rotting logs, leaf litter, and burrowed into dry, loose soil.

Instead of running, they “swim” into the sand to safety when they encounter a threat. They were named after this very mole-like behavior.

Common Five-lined Skink Plestiodon fasciatus

Common Five-lined Skink

Range: Northern Florida

Size: 5-8”

Description: Brown with five light-colored stripes running down their body, juveniles have a blue tail, and adult males have an orange head.

Habitat: Any

The common five-lined skink is not picky about its habitat. It can be found in almost the entire Eastern half of the United States, and it’s equally at home on the ground or in trees.

The males of this species are highly territorial to other males, while the females exhibit surprising levels of maternal care, including using their bodies to regulate the temperature and humidity of the eggs, retrieving displaced eggs, and consuming rotten eggs so they don’t affect the rest of the eggs.

Southeastern Five-lined Skink Plestiodon inexpectatus

Southeastern Five lined Skink

Range: Throughout Florida

Size: 5-8”

Description: Brown with five light-colored stripes running down their body, juveniles have a blue tail, and adult males have an orange head.

Habitat: Dry pine forests and coastal environments

This species is quite similar to the common five-lined skink.

The main difference in behavior is that this species tends to inhabit dryer habitats like pine forests, whereas the common five-lined skink prefers moist wetlands and woodlands.

As their name suggests, they can only be found in the southern portion of the eastern United States.

Broadhead Skink Plestiodon laticeps

Broadhead Skink Plestiodon laticeps

Range: North and Central Florida

Size: 6-13”

Description: Large, short legs, heavy-bodied, monotone bronze or olive body with an orange head

Habitat: Woodlands and forests

While still commonly found on the ground, the broadhead skink is the most arboreal skink in Florida.

Like other skinks, the broadhead skink’s diet consists primarily of insects. Thanks to their large size, though, they often overpower and consume other small lizards and even mammals.

Florida Sand Skink Plestiodon reynoldsi

Florida Sand Skink

Range: 7 Counties in Central Florida

Size: 4-5”

Description: Tiny, barely-visible legs, white or light gray body with darker speckling

Habitat: Florida scrublands

This is undoubtedly the most unique skink species in Florida.

Their small, white bodies that evolved to blend in with the sand certainly make them stand out from the more drab, woodsy-colored skinks.

Their legs are so tiny that they’re barely visible. At first glance, Florida sand skinks look like little snakes.

They eat surface-dwelling invertebrates, like termites and larvae.

They spend almost their entire lives buried 2-4” beneath the surface of the ground.

Ground Skink Scincella lateralis

Ground Skink Scincella lateralis

Range: Throughout Florida, except southcentral wetlands

Size: 3-5.5”

Description: Short legs, copper brown with a black stripe running down each side of their body

Habitat: Areas with loose soil and plenty of leaf cover

This is another skink species that virtually never climbs and, instead, “swims” into the soil to escape predators.

It’s the smallest species of skink in the eastern United States.

Female ground skinks display no maternal behaviors and abandon their nest as soon as they finish laying their clutch of 1-6 eggs.

Eastern Fence Lizard Sceloporus undulatus

Eastern Fence Lizard Sceloporus undulatus

Range: North and Central Florida

Size: 4-7”

Description: Rough scales, gray with black horizontal zig-zag stripes, males have bright blue throats during the mating season.

Habitat: Dry forests

This species is highly arboreal, often fleeing to fences, shrubs, and trees at the slightest sign of danger.

Like all other Florida lizards, the eastern fence lizard is insectivorous.

They’re a common sight in their native range but undoubtedly challenging to catch!

Males exhibit “push-up like” behavior to attract their mates.

Florida Scrub Lizard Sceloporus woodi

Florida Scrub Lizard Sceloporus woodi
Bob Peterson from North Palm Beach, Florida, Planet Earth!, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Bob Peterson from North Palm Beach, Florida, Planet Earth!, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Range: Isolated populations throughout Florida

Size: 5”

Description: Gray or light brown with one dark brown stripe down each side of its body, males have blue on their throat and belly, body type similar to an anole but with semi-rough scales.

Habitat: Florida scrublands

The Florida scrub lizard inhabits isolated patches of evergreen oak and sand pine scrubland throughout Florida. They require open areas for basking and dry conditions. They’re never found in Florida’s wetlands or anywhere with a closed canopy.

These lizards are most commonly found in the Ocala National Forest, but their population is declining due to habitat loss. They’re classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN.

The segmented populations have been separated for so long that they’re genetically different. The four main Florida scrub lizard populations are located in:

  • Ocala National Forest
  • Inland central peninsula
  • Atlantic coast scrubs
  • Gulf coast scrubs

If you want to learn more about lizards and the different kinds there are, read here!

3 thoughts on “15 Florida Lizards That Are Native to the Sunshine State (With Pictures!)”

  1. Do you fools not know the difference between a snake and a lizard??
    Here’s a hint :
    No legs ….NO LIZARD. It is a SNAKE.

    Reply
    • Hey Smarti 🙂
      That’s a common misunderstanding but just right with “glass lizards”.
      Glass lizards don’t have any legs!

      At first glance, glass lizards resemble snakes. However, they’re considered lizards because they have a fixed lower jaw. They also have eyelids and external ears.
      Despite their lack of legs, this classifies them as lizards – not as snakes.

      Have a good one!

      Reply
  2. I laughed too hard at this comment because I was literally so confused scrolling thru and thinking the same thing like thats no damn lizard thats clearly a snake!? lol

    Reply

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