Also known as the Sunshine State, Florida provides perfect habitats for lizards in its swamplands, forests and coastal regions. This southeastern state has warm temperatures year-round, which is a boon for cold-blooded lizards that maintain their body heat from external sources.
Invasive lizard populations have increased since the 19th century and pose as a threat to the survival of the native types of lizards in Florida, which have to compete for food and habitat space.
Sand skinks, or Neoseps reynoldsi, are found in Central Florida–particularly Marion and Highlands Counties–and appear to be legless. This results in many mistaking these lizards for snakes, but they're actually a distinct species separate from snakes.
This lizard has four legs, but they are small and virtually nonfunctional. As adults, sand skinks grow up to approximately 5 inches. These reptiles' natural habitat are sandy areas, as their name suggests, and coniferous forests with pine trees. A sand skink's reproduction period typically occurs in the spring.
Sand skinks mostly eat arthropods like termites, beetles, beetle larvae and various types of roaches. They'll also eat spiders, ant lions and lepidopteran larvae. They hunt throughout the morning and afternoon when there is peak sun to warm their bodies and boost their activity levels.
Florida Geckos: The Reef Gecko
The reef gecko, or Sphaerodactylus notatus, are only found in the islands of the Florida Keys and coastal regions of the Sunshine State. This dark-skinned gecko grows up to 2.5 inches when they fully mature. Reef geckos are primarily active at night.
Humans have chances to see reef geckos under leaves and debris on Florida's beaches. In urban areas, these geckos also live in ornament gardens. Physical characteristics include a pointy snout and boney ridges over the gecko's eyes.
Six-lined racerunners (Aspidoscelis sexlineatus) belong in the Teiidae family of lizards; this reptilian family are also called “whiptails,” due to their long slender tails.
The six-lined racerunners have dark skin with six light-colored stripes running from head to tail; male six-lined racerunners have blue bellies. Including its tail, these lizards may grow up to one foot long when they reach maturity. The hind legs of six-linted racerunners are nearly twice as large as its front legs.
This lizard uses its tongue to forage for prey. Their tongue can pick up and sense chemicals and compounds left behind by its prey. This prey includes grasshoppers, cicadas, beetles, ants and spiders. They've been observed eating some mollusk species.
Florida Scrub Lizard
One of the only endemic lizards in the state is the Florida scrub lizard, or Sceloporus woodi. This reptilian species belongs to the iguana family of lizards, although it is one of the smallest iguana species. As adults, Florida scrub lizards grow up to 5 inches.
Some of the Florida scrub lizard's physical characteristics are the spiny scales on its back and two dark brown stripes that run from head to tail. Florida scrub lizards are usually found on the state's Atlantic Coast and near Central Florida's lakes.
These lizards forage on mostly on the ground, but they'll also be seen perches on shrubs, logs and rocks close to the ground. Like the skink, they're most active during the day and during hotter months.
Northern Green Anole
The northern green anole, or Anolis carolinensis, is the only anole lizard native to Florida. This anole lizard is completely green, a coloration that allows it to blend into its forest habitat. Green anoles are found in South Florida sites, including Everglades National Park and greater Miami.
When green anoles feel threatened or excited, their skin morphs into a brownish color. Green anoles also shed their skin on an annual basis.
About the Author
Skip Davis has been writing professionally since 2005. His work has appeared in "Southern Literary Magazine," on various websites and in graphic panels at the Jackson Zoological Park in Jackson, Miss. Currently living in Southern California, Davis received his Bachelor of Arts in theater at Belhaven College.