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6 Types of Lizards in South Carolina (Pictures)

If you’ve ever visited South Carolina, you know that it’s a land of warm sunshine, sweet tea, and southern hospitality. But have you ever taken a closer look at the reptiles that call this state home? Specifically, the lizards. These tiny creatures may be easy to overlook, but they are fascinating and worthy of our attention.

This article will explore the various types of lizards found in South Carolina, from the speedy anoles to the regal skinks, and learn more about their unique characteristics and habits. So grab a glass of sweet tea, sit back, and let’s dive into the world of lizards in South Carolina.

Collage photo lizards in South Carolina

6 Lizards in South Carolina

Lizards are a diverse group of reptiles in various habitats across the United States. From the arid deserts of the southwest to the humid forests of the southeast, these fascinating creatures occupy a wide range of ecosystems. Let’s explore some of the most common and important lizard species found in South Carolina:

1. Eastern Fence Lizards

Eastern fence lizard
Eastern fence lizard | image by Rubberducky53171 via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Sceloporus undulatus
  • Size: Adult Eastern Fence Lizards typically range in size from 5 to 8 inches, with males generally larger than females.
  • Diet: Eastern Fence Lizards are primarily insectivorous, feeding on various insects, including ants, beetles, and grasshoppers. They may also occasionally consume small fruits and vegetation.
  • Habitat: They are commonly found in various habitats, including forests, woodlands, grasslands, and suburban areas.

The eastern fence lizard is native to South Carolina and Georgia and is found throughout much of the eastern United States, from southern California to northern Florida and west to eastern Texas. These species are named for their tendency to perch on fence posts, tree trunks, and other elevated surfaces to survey their surroundings for potential predators and prey.

They are also known for their distinctive blue patches on their undersides, which are used to communicate with other lizards during mating season.

2. Carolina Green Anole

Green anole
Green anole
  • Scientific Name: Anolis carolinensis
  • Size: Up to 8 inches
  • Diet: Insects and other small invertebrates
  • Habitat: Forests, woodlands, and suburban areas

This is a common lizard species found throughout South Carolina. It is a small and agile lizard capable of changing colors from green to brown depending on its environment. Green Anoles are often kept as pets due to their charming personalities and ease of care.

In addition to their ability to change color, Green Anoles are known for their long, slender bodies and tails. They have sharp claws and are excellent climbers, often seen scaling trees and other vertical surfaces in search of food and, at times to escape predators.

During mating season, males often perform elaborate displays to attract females, including head-bobbing and extending their dewlap to show off their bright red coloration. Green Anoles are popular pets due to their small size, ease of care, and interesting behaviors. However, it is important to note that they are a delicate species and require specific environmental conditions to thrive.

3. Mediterranean Gecko

Mediterranean house gecko
Mediterranean house gecko | image by Mick Sway via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Hemidactylus turcicus
  • Size: Up to 5 inches
  • Diet: Insects and other small invertebrates
  • Habitat: Urban and suburban areas

The Mediterranean Gecko is mostly found in Florida, but there are spotty population pockets in the southeast. In the southernmost parts of South Carolina, this species has been spotted.

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In areas where Mediterranean Geckos have become invasive, efforts are being made to control the spread. This may involve measures such as trapping and removal, habitat modification to make urban areas less hospitable to the species, and public education to promote awareness of the risks posed by invasive species.

4. Southeastern Five-lined Skink

Southeastern five lined skink
Southeastern five lined skink | image by gailhampshire via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Plestiodon inexpectatus
  • Size: 5-8 inches
  • Diet: Insects and spiders
  • Habitat: Forests and wooded areas

The Southeastern Five-lined Skink is a small, slender lizard only found in the mountainous regions of western South Carolina. It’s known for its distinctive five lines on its back. They are known for their agility and speed, using their strong legs to scamper along the ground and climb trees and other vegetation for food and shelter.

The Southeastern Five-lined Skink is often seen sunning themselves on rocks or other sun-warmed surfaces, which helps regulate their body temperature and aids in digestion. Even though this kind is abundant in some parts of their range, populations of Southeastern Five-lined Skinks are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation caused by human activities such as urbanization and agriculture.

5. Southern Coal Skink

Southern coal skink
Southern coal skink | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Plestiodon anthracinus pluvialis
  • Size: 5-8 inches
  • Diet: Insects and spiders
  • Habitat: Forests and rocky areas

The Southern Coal Skink is a relatively large size and has impressive camouflage. Populations of Southern Coal Skinks are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation caused by human activities such as urbanization and road construction.

Due to their preference for rocky habitats, Southern Coal Skinks can be difficult to spot in the wild. However, they can sometimes be seen basking on rocks or other sun-warmed surfaces. These lizards are also known for their ability to drop their tails as a defense mechanism when threatened by predators.

6. Ground Skink

Little ground skink
Little ground skink | image by schizoform via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Scincella lateralis
  • Size: 3-5 inches
  • Diet: Insects and spiders
  • Habitat: Forests, grasslands, and suburban areas

The Ground Skink is a small, slender lizard often seen scurrying along the ground in search of food. In addition to its small size and slender body, the Ground Skink can be identified by its shiny scales, typically brown or gray.

This lizard species is native to much of the eastern and southeastern United States, including the coastal plains, coastal zone, piedmont, sandhills, and blue ridge areas of South Carolina. They are known for their ability to move quickly and efficiently through leaf litter and other ground debris in search of prey. Ground Skinks can be difficult to spot due to their small size and ability to blend into their surroundings.