Georgia is a state of many habitats: coasts, swamps, rivers, mountains, and rolling hills. Plenty of lizards make themselves at home here. There are several native species of lizard in Georgia and many more that were introduced as a result of trade or the pet industry. Continue reading to learn more about 12 of the most common lizards you’d find in Georgia.
12 Species of Lizards in Georgia
From the green anole to the house gecko, here’s a list of lizards that you can find in the state of Georgia!
1. Green Anole
Scientific name: Anolis carolinensis
The Green Anoles are some of the most common lizards in the state of Georgia. While they’re more common in southern parts of the state because of the warmer environment, they have been seen in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains.
Male and female Green Anoles are both green but males have a red-orange throat patch that they inflate to defend their territory and attract females during mating season. They average between 5-8 inches long and their main prey is insects and spiders.
Green Anoles blend into multiple environments by changing color! They can morph their scale color to dark brown, which helps them camouflage into thickets, tree branches, and leaf litter.
2. Brown Anole
Scientific name: Anolis sagrei
The Brown Anoles are similar in appearance to Green Anoles, but they are introduced species to the United States, not native inhabitants of the country. They live in two specific areas of the state: south-central Georgia along the Florida-Georgia line, and the southern Atlantic coast near St. Mary’s and Cumberland Island.
The Brown Anole averages 7 inches long and is an efficient hunter of insects and spiders. They are most active during the day; at which time they bask and lie in wait for insects to pass by.
3. Eastern Fence Lizard
Scientific name: Sceloporus undulatus
The Eastern Fence Lizard is one of the most common lizards native to Georgia. It’s a highly active small lizard that enjoys basking during the daylight hours. They keep territory which they like to survey from high viewpoints like fenceposts, tree branches, and stumps.
They are patterned in shades of gray, black, and white and average about 6 inches long. The tail makes up half the size of the body.
Compared to other Georgian lizards, Eastern Fence Lizards are very reliant on trees when hunting and evading predators. They eat insects, spiders, and worms.
4. Texas Horned Lizard
Scientific name: Phrynosoma cornutum
The Texas Horned Lizard is well known in the southwest, but its range extends as far east as Georgia. The lizard prefers to live in sandy soils along the state’s coast. Even though it is an introduced species, its territory is highly limited because it can only survive in mild dune ecosystems.
Despite their fearsome appearance that gives them their name, the Texas Horned Lizard is not aggressive. If it can’t evade a predator by hiding in the sand, its last-ditch effort is to squirt blood out of its eyes. They eat ants and regularly stalk anthills to find a reliable food source.
5. Six-lined Racerunner
Scientific name: Aspidoscelis sexlineatus
Six-lined Racerunners live throughout Georgia. They are adaptable insectivores that inhabit coasts, pine forests, open woodlands, deciduous woodlands, and swamps. The only area they avoid is mountains in the north of the state.
The hotter the environment, the better. You’re likely to see them basking in the noonday sun.
This lizard is black, white, and yellow. There are six longitudinal lines that run from the head to the tail. They are usually about 8 inches long.
6. Ground Skink
Scientific name: Scincella lateralis
The Ground Skink is a snakelike lizard that lives close to the forest floor. They spend most of their time under loose soil or leaf litter, where they hunt for insects and spiders. Worms also make up part of their diet.
They like any habitat in Georgia except for swamps. The lizard averages 4 inches long and is brown with a lateral black and copper stripe.
From the side view, it’s a very flat lizard. They are extremely quick moving and can lose their tails to avoid being killed by predators.
7. Broad-headed Skink
Scientific name: Plestiodon laticeps
It’s easy to spot a Broad-headed Skink! They are robust-bodied with small arms and legs and a bright orange triangle-shaped head. They have large green-blue eyes. Young lizards’ tails are blue as well.
The five yellow lines from the head to tail are less visible than in other skinks, but it’s still a good way to differentiate them from other species. They catch insects, small rodents, and even other lizards with their strong jaws. In Georgia, they’re most common south of Atlanta and eastward towards the coast.
8. Mole Skink
Scientific name: Plestiodon egregius
Mole Skinks are native to south Georgia south of the fall line. They prefer the sandy soil of the longleaf pine forests where they can burrow under leaves, pine needles, and fallen logs. They’re quick movers that ‘swish’ through the soil like a snake.
The Mole Skink has a grayish-brown base color, two light stripes on each side, and an orange tail. They are small lizards less than 6 inches long that eat insects, worms, and spiders. Specimens on the coast eat many small crustaceans.
9. Mediterranean House Gecko
Scientific name: Hemidactylus turcicus
The Mediterranean House Geckos are not native to Georgia, but they have integrated and adapted themselves so well to the environment that they have been accepted as part of the natural biota.
This gecko is light in color, with a marbled tan and beige pattern across its body. It has sticky toe pads, no eyelids, and vertical pupils. Their skin texture has braille-like bumps that help it blend into natural environments.
A fun fact about them is that they only live in urban areas with robust human-built infrastructure. The walls, roofs, and cracks made by buildings provide them with cover and safety that allow them to survive. They’re known to wait around lights during the night where they can prey on moths and other insects that mistake the light for the sun.
10. Eastern Glass Lizard
Scientific name: Ophisaurus ventralis
The Eastern Glass Lizard is a species of legless lizard that resembles a snake in many ways. They grow up to 43 inches long, have a serpentine pattern of movement, and a small, snakelike head.
However, there are clear differences between the Eastern Glass Lizard and snakes that will help you tell them apart. The lizard has eyelids, earholes, and jaws that don’t flex like a snake’s can.
They exist in a variety of colors: green, tan, and dark gray. All specimens have a light underbelly and a dark lateral stripe on each side.
Their favorite habitats include open woodlands, wetlands, and the coastal dunes near Savannah and the islands along the Atlantic Ocean. They live below the fall line, south of Atlanta.
11. Five-lined Skink
Scientific name: Plestiodon fasciatus
The Five-lined Skink is easy to recognize at any age thanks to several traits: its cobalt-blue tail, the 5 stripes on its back, and its red head. They have a robust body, large eyes, and small arms and legs. Young skinks have blue tails and adult males have red heads.
They live on the ground and in trees. Woodlands with plentiful water sources are some of this skink’s favorite habitat. It takes advantage of shadows, leaf litter, and fallen logs to hide and stalk its prey. They eat small insects, spiders, and worms.
Like most skinks, the Five-lined Skink can release its tail if it feels threatened by a potential predator. The broken-off tail twitches and moves for several minutes in order to confuse the predator into thinking it caught the entire lizard.
They are more common in the northern parts of Georgia above the fall line. They prefer freshwater-dominant environments, streams, and rivers.
12. Slender Glass Lizard
Scientific name: Ophisaurus attenuatus
The Slender Glass Lizard is a snakelike legless lizard that can grow to be up to 42 inches long. It even has a forked tongue which it flicks in and out like a snake. Tell it apart from a snake by way of its functional eyelids, earholes, and stiff jaws.
They are dark brown, black, and white in color. The top of the back is brown, but the sides are a marble of black and white. They’re most active in open woodlands, grasslands, and open areas with accessible hiding places like thickets and brush piles.
Their tails can fall off if the lizard is scared or threatened by a potential predator. They regrow slowly over time and it’s possible to see the ring where the tail broke off.