Alabama has a climate hospitable to many reptiles, including lizards. This southern state’s topography ranges from forests to mountains, beaches to swamps. Geckos, anoles, and skinks all make themselves at home in the wilds of Alabama.
There are more than 90 species of reptiles living in the state of Alabama, and over a dozen of them are lizards. In this article we’ll cover 12 native lizards as well as 4 non-native lizards in Alabama. Continue reading to learn more about the species of lizards that call this state home.
16 Species of Lizards in Alabama
Lizards Native to Alabama
1. Eastern Slender Glass Lizard
Scientific name: Ophisaurus attenuatus longicaudus
The Eastern Slender Glass Lizard is a type of legless lizards. These snakelike reptiles are also known as “glass lizards.” They have no front or back legs and rely on side-to-side motion to move.
It has a brownish green back and a white or yellow belly. The sides are speckled with a mix of the two colors. The maximum length they reach is 42 inches long. They eat small insects or spiders.
Look for the Eastern Slender Glass Lizard above the fall line. This corresponds to around and north of Birmingham.
2. Mimic Glass Lizard
Scientific name: Ophisaurus mimicus
The rare Mimic Glass Lizard is elusive in the state of Alabama. It lives in the southern part of the state, from the Dougherty plain to the hills and plains of the Southern Pines area.
The Mimic Glass Lizard relies heavily on the smooth grass present in longleaf pine-wiregrass ecosystems. They can be awkward at locomotion, but the grass helps them slide with ease. They’re threatened by human development, but so little is known about them that scientists have difficulty retrieving specimens.
You can tell them apart from snakes thanks to their ear openings, a fold of skin along both sides of the body, and eyelids. They are smaller than the other glass lizards in Alabama and reach a maximum size of 12 inches long.
3. Eastern Glass Lizard
Scientific name: Ophisaurus ventralis
The Eastern Glass Lizard looks more akin to a snake than a lizard. It is a legless lizard, which means that it has no front or back legs. They’re easy to tell apart from other glass lizards in Alabama because of the dramatic difference in back and belly color.
Their backs are usually green-black and their bellies are white or yellow. There is clear separation between the underside and the back. They live in well-hydrated forest, fields, or brush. Look for them in the coastal plains in the south of the state and the ridges and valleys of the north.
4. Eastern Fence Lizard
Scientific name: Sceloporus undulatus
If you’re outside in Alabama during the spring or summer, you may see an Eastern Fence Lizard basking in the sun outside. They like to sit on fences, rocks, and dry places in the sunlight.
Camouflage helps them stay hidden from predators. This is crucial because they spend so much time out in the open. The Eastern Fence Lizard is generally afraid of humans so it runs when it senses a threat.
5. Northern Green Anole
Scientific name: Anolis carolinensis carolinensis
The Northern Green Anoles are Alabama’s only native anole. This type of lizard is an agile climber that prefers to live in above-ground environments. Its body is green and white to blend in with leaves and tree branches.
They live throughout the state, where they adapt to human developments like gardens and buildings. They eat small insects and spiders by tracking their movement.
6. Northern Mole Skink
Scientific name: Plestiodon egregius similis
The Northern Mole Skink is the only red-tailed skink in Alabama. It has an ombre of gray-brown on the body that shifts to red on the tail.
More research is needed to determine the reason why these skinks’ population is declining. They can currently be found east of the Black Warrior and Tombigbee Rivers. They burrow underground instead of living on the forest floor, so it’s exciting to catch a glimpse of one.
7. Five-lined Skink
Scientific name: Plestiodon fasciatus
Five-lined Skinks are common sight in Alabama during the warm season. These agile lizards range from 5-8 inches long and live in multiple habitat types. They can regrow a short tail if it breaks off in an encounter with a predator.
They eat small insects, spiders, and snails. Look for them in forests, gardens, and under leaves or brush piles.
8. Broad-headed Skink
Scientific name: Plestiodon laticeps
This is one easy-to-ID skink! The Broad-headed Skink has a wide orange head with a pronounced brow ridge over the eye. The body is olive green or brownish. Like all skinks, the legs and feet are smaller than the body, which is more robust.
Of the six Alabaman skinks, it’s the most common and the most likely species to venture into trees. They like to live in tree cavities.
9. Ground Skink
Scientific name: Scincella lateralis
Ground Skinks roam throughout all of Alabama, but their numbers have declined in the last 25 years. They are dark brown to black and between 3-6 inches long.
Their short legs help them scurry under leaf litter. The more places to hide – fallen logs, bracken, and leaves – the better. They prefer to live near water sources.
10. Coal Skink
Scientific name: Plestiodon anthracinus
The Coal Skink is a rare site throughout Alabama. In fact, their full range in the state is unknown. Tell them apart from other lizards by way of their long back toes and black body.
They reach up to 7 inches long and are smooth. You can find Coal Skinks in mixed forests with regular water supplies. They prefer to live near streams in leaf litter.
11. Southeastern Five-lined Skink
Scientific name: Plestiodon inexpectatus
Southeastern Five-lined Skinks used to be common throughout Alabama, but recent declines in their population have changed their status. They are now rare in the southern part of the state.
Identify them thanks to their robust body, small arms and legs, and cobalt-blue tail. These skinks can break off their tails if grabbed by predators; some regrow their tails. They are diurnal and most active in dead trees and leaf litter in the dry forest underbrush.
12. Eastern Six-lined Racerunner
Scientific name: Aspidoscelis sexlineatus sexlineatus
The Eastern Six-lined Racerunner is also known by the name “Sand-streak.” It’s obvious that this is a fast-moving lizard. It uses its speed to catch prey during the day. It eats insects and small lizards. Bigger racerunners may even eat small mammals like mice or voles.
Identify one thanks to its muscular limbs and the six light yellow or white lines running vertically down its back from the head to the tail.
13. Texas Horned Lizard
Scientific name: Phrynosoma cornutum
It might be one of the most well-known lizards in Texas and the Southeast. Originally from the south central United States, populations were brought to Alabama as part of the pet trade. Now there are sustainable wild populations of Texas Horned Lizards living along the Gulf Coast.
They prefer sandy areas, so their habitat within the state is limited to the coast. Small insects like grasshoppers and ants are their preferred prey. They have a unique way of defending themselves against predators: threatened Texas Horned Lizards can squirt blood from their eyes when cornered.
14. Turkish (Mediterranean) House Gecko
Scientific name: Aspidoscelis turcicus
Geckos are not native to the American South or Alabama. Despite this fact, the state has habitat the lizards find hospitable and has since become a home for a substantial gecko population.
These small geckos average just over 4 inches long. They are pale tan with dark spots on the body and stripes on the tail.
Many people find them climbing on the exterior of houses, gutters, and backyard structures. They adapt well to human development and have learned to rely on nighttime lighting to supply them with moths.
15. Indo-Pacific Gecko
Scientific name: Hemidactylus garnotii
Indo-Pacific Geckos average about 5 inches long, an inch longer than the Turkish House Gecko. Their backs are gray and their bellies are yellow-orange.
While their native habitat is in Southeast Asia, they have adapted well to Alabama’s southern cities and towns. They are unlike most lizards in that they prefer to live near urbanization. They’re most active at night, when they cling to walls or ceilings and wait for moths to come near outdoor lights.
16. Brown Anole
Scientific name: Norops sagrei
The Brown Anole is an exotic lizard native to the Bahamas and the Caribbean Islands. They reached the Gulf Coast and the states of the Southern United States by being transported accidentally on boats or blown northward in hurricanes.
It is a hardy and tenacious species of lizard. They live in sub-tropical habitat, so they are generally limited to more southern parts of Alabama.
Their diet consists of small insects and invertebrates like spiders, slugs, and worms. Males have a red or orange throat flap that expands when breathing. This dew lap helps them attract a female.