From the small and elusive Texas horned lizard to the Texas spiny lizard and green anole, this massive state is home to some of the most fascinating and iconic lizards in North America. In this article we will discuss 20 lizard species found in the state of Texas, look at some pictures of them, learn about their unique characteristics, and vital role in the local ecosystem.
20 Lizards in Texas
Texas, the second-largest state in the United States, is renowned for its diverse wildlife and vast landscapes. Its warm and humid climate provides a perfect habitat for a wide range of reptiles, including over 75 species of native lizards and 25 invasive species. Below is list of 20 Texas lizard species.
1. Texas alligator lizard
- Scientific Name: Gerrhonotus infernalis
- Length: 24 to 25 inches
The Texas alligator lizard is a species that can only be found in the central area of Texas. It’s the largest kind of lizard in the state and is thought to be one of the biggest alligator lizards in the world.
You can tell them apart by their yellow-brown bodies and white and brown patterns. They aren’t venomous and move slowly, but they have good eyesight.
2. Broadhead skink
- Scientific Name: Plestiodon laticeps
- Length: 5.9 to 13 inches
The Broadhead skinks got their name from their wide jaws, which make their heads look wide and triangular. Semi-arboreal in nature, you can find these lizards in the oak trees of eastern Texas, particularly those with holes. Even though they often live in trees, they usually hunt for food on the ground, looking for small insects under debris, soil, or litter.
3. Green anole
- Scientific Name: Anolis carolinensis
- Length: 5 to 8 inches
The green anole is a species of lizard found in Texas. These animals are small to medium-sized. Their heads are long and pointy, and they have sticky pads on their toes that help them climb trees.
Although they’re born with a range of brown to green tones, they can alter their coloration, much like other lizards. Their color shifts reflect their emotional state, stress levels, and serve as a form of social communication.
4. Eastern collared lizard
- Scientific Name: Crotaphytus collaris
- Length: 8 to 15 inches
The Eastern collared lizard is a colorful reptile that lives in the state and has a big head and strong jaw. This lizard’s color depends on its gender. Females have brown bodies with spots, while males have blue-green bodies with light brown heads.
Eastern collared lizards can also run up to 24 kilometers per hour on their two back legs, especially when a predator is chasing them.
5. Laredo striped whiptail
- Scientific Name: Aspidoscelis laredoensis
- Length: 6 to 11 inches
The Laredo striped whiptail mostly relies on insects as their primary food source. They have a lot of energy and move quickly, which lets them hide quickly when they feel threatened.
This striped whiptail has a dark green or dark brown body with seven yellow or white stripes. Also, they like to live in places with sandy soil and few plants.
6. Texas banded gecko
- Scientific Name: Coleonyx brevis
- Length: less than 4 inches
The Texas banded geckos are a small type of lizard that only comes out at night and lives in Texas. The geckos got their name from the pattern on their backs, which looks like alternating bands of yellow and brown.
In western Texas, they live in rock piles or cracks in canyon walls. Their main food source is any small arthropods that can fit in their mouth.
7. Greater earless lizard
- Scientific Name: Cophosaurus texanus
- Length: 3.5 to 7.25 inches
The greater earless lizard is a reptile found in the southwestern United States, including the state of Texas. They can live up to three years and are known for being able to run on two legs, and you can usually find these species in the semi-arid Edwards Plateau and Central Great Plains in Texas. The majority of their diet consists of insects, with occasional consumption of arthropods and small lizards.
8. Little brown skink
- Scientific Name: Scincella lateralis
- Length: 3 to 5.5 inches
Among the smallest reptiles in North America are the little brown skinks, also called ground skinks. They’re also among the most common skinks in the Eastern United States, making them one of the most popular and widespread skink species in the region. Most of the time, little brown skinks are buried in leaf litter, and they don’t climb trees as much as other skink species do.
9. Asian house gecko
- Scientific Name: Hemidactylus frenatus
- Length: 3 to 6 inches
The Asian house geckos come from South and Southeast Asia, but they can also be found in Texas. Most of their activity occurs during the night when they hunt for insects. As their names suggest, these geckos are usually found inside houses, where it’s warm and where many of their food sources are.
10. Mesquite lizard
- Scientific Name: Sceloporus grammicus
- Length: 3.9 to 6.9 inches
Mesquite lizards are flat-bodied lizards that live in the southern United States. They have a coloration that’s either olive or gray, and you can recognize them by the three to six dark crossbars that run along their bodies. Males may also have blue spots on the sides of their abdomens, which are sometimes outlined in black.
11. Texas spotted whiptail
- Scientific Name: Aspidoscelis gularis
- Length: 6.5 to 11 inches
The Texas spotted whiptail is a very fast reptile that lives in the state of Texas. This animal can be recognized by its brownish body, which is marked with seven grayish or white stripes running its length. Males often have reddish throats, blue bellies, and patches of blue or black on their chests, while females have pinkish throats.
12. New Mexico whiptail
- Scientific Name: Cnemidophorus neomexicanus
- Length: 6.5 to 9.1 inches
The New Mexico whiptail is a species of reptile that reproduces asexually and therefore has only one gender, which is female. Their bodies are either brown or black, and they have seven thin yellow stripes running from head to tail. This species is very active, has a very quick movement rate, and can typically be found in semi-arid habitats.
13. Texas tree lizard
- Scientific Name: Urosaurus ornatus ornatus
- Length: 10 to 11 inches
The Texas tree lizard, which is also called the “ornate tree lizard,” is one of the most common lizards in North America. They feed on insects and their larvae, and can be found in arboreal and semi-arboreal habitats.
When defending their territory, males are more likely to use aggression than females. These creatures are also active all year long, except during the month of December.
14. Western slender glass lizard
- Scientific Name: Ophisaurus attenuatus
- Length: 22 to 36 inches
The Western slender glass lizard is a legless lizard that can move very fast but isn’t venomous. Their bodies range in color from yellow to brown, and they have six stripes and white spots down the center of their scales.
Although they look like snakes, these animals actually have eyelids and ears. These limbless lizards typically hibernate underground and sleep in burrows. When threatened, they can snap off their tail and grow new ones.
15. Great Plains Skink
- Scientific Name: Plestiodon obsoletus
- Length: up to 11 inches
The great plains skink is one of the skinks you can find in the state of Texas. This species is endemic to North America and can be spotted most often in open plains close to bodies of water.
They can be light gray or beige, and the edges of the scales on their backs can be black or dark brown. Juveniles of this species are completely black except for a bluish tail and a few white spots on their lips and head.
16. Roundtail horned lizard
- Scientific Name: Phrynosoma modestum
- Length: 2 to 4 inches
The Roundtail horned lizards are an interesting type of lizard that lives in Texas. They’re known for having round bodies that are short and flat.
Due to how they look and the fact that they’re gray, light brown, or pale yellow, they’re very adept at concealing themselves in their rocky and sandy, semiarid habitats. Roundtail horned lizards are usually found in western Texas, and they eat honeypot and harvester ants.
17. Chihuahuan spotted whiptail
- Scientific Name: Aspidoscelis exsanguis
- Length: 9.5 to 12 inches
The Chihuahuan spotted whiptail is a type of animal that lives in the United States, including southwestern Texas. Usually, their bodies are reddish brown and have six light stripes with spots in between each stripe. They prefer to live in arid environments, so you’ll most often find them in canyons, dry basin forests, and deserts.
18. Texas spiny lizard
- Scientific Name: Sceloporus olivaceus
- Length: 7.5 to 11 inches
The Texas spiny lizard is a small lizard that can be found in most of Texas. They’re one of the state’s most common species, and you can usually find them in trees or on fences.
This species is extremely shy and will often flee to higher branches when threatened. For territory, males will challenge each other to a push-up contest, which will continue until one of the competitors gives up.
19. Longnose leopard lizard
- Scientific Name: Gambelia wislizenii
- Length: 3.25 to 5.75 inches
The Longnose leopard lizards are a type of lizard known for their long snouts and tails that are much longer than their bodies. They live in Texas and feed on small lizards, insects, and sometimes rodents in dry and semiarid plains. They protect themselves by hiding under a bush, flattening their bodies, and staying still until the danger is gone.
20. Checkered whiptail
- Scientific Name: Aspidoscelis tesselata
- Length: 5 to 6 inches
In the reptile world, checkered whiptails are among the species that can reproduce asexually. This species can only reach a maximum length of 6 inches and has checkers or stripes all over its body. They’re most frequently discovered in arid and rocky environments, such as hilly regions and canyons.