12 Species of Lizards Found in Virginia

Virginia, also known as the Old Dominion state, is not only rich in history and natural beauty, but it is also home to a diverse range of wildlife. Among the many fascinating creatures that inhabit this state, one group stands out: lizards. Yes, you heard it right – Virginia is home to not just a few, but 12 different species of lizards! From the Mediterranean gecko to the Italian wall lizard, each species has its own unique characteristics and habitats. These lizards play a crucial role in maintaining the delicate balance of their ecosystems by controlling insect populations and providing a vital food source for predators. Whether you’re an avid wildlife enthusiast or simply curious about the reptiles that call Virginia home, this article is sure to capture your attention. With detailed descriptions and captivating pictures of each lizard species, get ready to discover the fascinating world of Virginia’s lizards.

Mediterranean Gecko

The Mediterranean gecko, also known as the Turkish gecko, is one of the lizard species found in Virginia. This small reptile has a unique appearance with its pale gray or tan body covered in tiny dark spots. One of its most notable characteristics is its large, lidless eyes which give it excellent night vision. This feature allows the Mediterranean gecko to be active during the night, which is when it hunts for insects, its main source of food. In terms of habitat, this lizard prefers warm and dry environments, which is why it can often be found in urban areas where it takes shelter in buildings and trees.

Mediterranean Gecko

Broad-Headed Skink

The broad-headed skink is a medium-sized lizard species that calls Virginia home. This skink is known for its robust body, powerful legs, and broad head, which gives it its name. With a vibrant glossy appearance, the broad-headed skink has black stripes running along its body and a bright orange head in males. They are primarily insectivores, feeding on various insects such as ants, beetles, and spiders. Broad-headed skinks are most commonly found in woodland areas, where they can utilize the trees and underbrush for protection and basking.

Broad-Headed Skink

Eastern Fence Lizard

The eastern fence lizard, also known as the prairie lizard, is another lizard species found in Virginia. This lizard species showcases a rough and scaly appearance, with a tan or gray body and darker markings. What sets the eastern fence lizard apart is the presence of spiny scales along its sides and back. These scales provide protection against predators and help regulate body temperature. Eastern fence lizards primarily feed on insects, particularly ants, beetles, and spiders. They are often found in areas with sandy or rocky terrain, such as grasslands and open woodlands.

Eastern Fence Lizard

Green Anole

The green anole, also known as the Carolina anole, is a species of lizard native to Virginia. As its name suggests, this lizard has a striking green coloration, which can change depending on its mood or environment. Green anoles have the ability to change shades from bright green to a darker brown or gray, allowing them to blend into their surroundings and avoid predators. In addition to insects, the green anole also eats small spiders and other arthropods. This lizard can often be found in both urban and natural settings, such as gardens, forests, and shrublands.

Green Anole

Common Five-Lined Skink

The common five-lined skink, also known as the blue-tailed skink, is one of the most widespread lizard species in Virginia. This skink displays a distinctive bright blue or teal-colored tail, which gradually fades as the lizard ages. The body is typically brown or gray with five light stripes running from head to tail. Despite its name, the common five-lined skink is primarily insectivorous but may also consume small fruits. This lizard species is adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and even suburban gardens.

Common Five-Lined Skink

Eastern Slender Glass Lizard

The eastern slender glass lizard, also known as the glass snake, is a legless lizard species found in Virginia. Although it may resemble a snake, this lizard can be distinguished by the presence of eyelids and external ear openings. One of the interesting features of the eastern slender glass lizard is its ability to voluntarily break off its tail when threatened. The tail then wriggles for several minutes, serving as a distraction while the lizard escapes. Eastern slender glass lizards predominantly feed on insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates. They are typically found in grasslands, open fields, and forest edges.

Eastern Slender Glass Lizard

Southeastern Five-Lined Skink

The southeastern five-lined skink is a subspecies of the common five-lined skink and is also native to Virginia. This skink shares many characteristics with its common counterpart, including the blue-tailed juveniles and five light stripes running along the body. However, the southeastern five-lined skink typically has more vibrant colors and a broader head. Like its counterpart, this skink plays a vital role in insect control and has a varied diet consisting of insects, spiders, and other invertebrates. It can be found in a variety of habitats, such as woodlands, ravines, and gardens.

Southeastern Five-Lined Skink

Eastern Glass Lizard

The eastern glass lizard is another legless lizard species found in Virginia. This lizard closely resembles a snake due to its lack of limbs, but it possesses distinct characteristics that set it apart. The eastern glass lizard has a long and cylindrical body with dark patterns and is typically brown or gray in color. It can reach impressive lengths of up to four feet. In terms of diet, the eastern glass lizard primarily feeds on insects, spiders, and small vertebrates. It tends to inhabit woodland areas, open fields, and sand dunes.

Eastern Glass Lizard

Little Brown Skink

The little brown skink, also known as the Southeastern five-lined skink, is a small lizard species found in Virginia. As its name suggests, this skink has a brownish coloration with various patterns and markings. They are typically less than five inches in length. The little brown skink is insectivorous, consuming small insects and arthropods. It is commonly found in forested habitats, including woodland edges and riparian zones. Despite being small in size, this lizard plays an important role in maintaining the balance of insect populations within its ecosystem.

Little Brown Skink

Italian Wall Lizard

The Italian wall lizard is an introduced lizard species that now thrives in Virginia. This lizard is relatively small, typically measuring around five to six inches in length. It displays a striking color variation, ranging from light green to brown or gray. The Italian wall lizard is highly adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats, including rocky areas and walls, as its name suggests. In terms of diet, this lizard primarily feeds on small insects and arthropods. The introduction and establishment of the Italian wall lizard in Virginia provide an interesting example of the impact of invasive species.

Italian Wall Lizard

In conclusion, Virginia is home to a diverse array of lizard species, each with unique characteristics and habitats. These lizards play a crucial role in their respective ecosystems by controlling insect populations and serving as a food source for predators. From the Mediterranean gecko and broad-headed skink to the eastern fence lizard and Italian wall lizard, each species contributes to the biodiversity of Virginia’s lizard population. Whether in urban areas or natural habitats, these fascinating reptiles are a testament to the rich wildlife found in the state.

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