Virginia is a state with diverse wildlife and landscapes. From the rugged Blue Ridge Mountains to the sandy beaches of the Atlantic coast, the state offers a home to a variety of species of animals. For example, Virginia is home to quite a few different species of lizards, each with their unique characteristics and habitats.
These reptiles play an essential role in their ecosystems, controlling insect populations and serving as a food source for predators. In this article, we will explore 12 species of lizards that live in Virginia, learn about their behaviors, habitats, and look at several pictures.
12 Lizards in Virginia
Here’s a list of 12 species of lizards in Virginia, along with some interesting facts that can help you identify them.
1. Mediterranean gecko
- Scientific Name: Hemidactylus turcicus
- Length: 4 to 5 inches
The Mediterranean geckos are one type of lizard that can be seen in Virginia, especially in parts of the Northern, Piedmont, Central, and Eastern regions. These animals were originally found in the Mediterranean regions but were spread throughout the world by humans.
Identifiable by its pale body filled with bumpy warts, this gecko species can now be found in some urban areas. They’re also active at night and hide in walls or cracks during the day.
2. Broad-headed skink
- Scientific Name: Plestiodon laticeps
- Length: 6.5 to 12.8 inches
One of the types of reptiles found in Virginia is the broadhead skink, which can be found almost everywhere in the state except for most western parts. The wide jaws of this species, which give their heads an appearance of being wide and triangular, are where the name came from. They can be dark brown, grayish brown, or even black in color, and have five whitish stripes.
These skinks live mostly in trees and are often seen in open forest areas, especially in old pine stands. They can also be found in structures like houses and barns in wooded areas.
3. Eastern fence lizard
- Scientific Name: Sceloporus undulatus
- Length: 4 to 7.2 inches
The eastern fence lizard is one of the species of reptiles that can be found practically everywhere in the state. Their range is quite extensive, and typical habitats include pine forests, mixed deciduous forests, stands of trees in old fields, and urban woodlots. Females are larger than males, and both sexes have brownish-to-grayish heads, tails, and bodies with black crossbands.
The majority of an eastern fence lizard’s diet consists of invertebrates, which it hunts using a technique known as “sit-and-wait.” This means that the reptiles will only attack their prey once they have gotten too close to them.
4. Green anole
- Scientific Name: Anolis carolinensis
- Length: 5 to 9 inches
The green anole is a medium-sized species found only in the easternmost part of Virginia. They can range in color from bright green to dark brown or a dull grayish brown, but they have the ability to alter their color in response to their emotions. You can tell males from females by looking at their frontal ridges, which are more developed in males than in females.
5. Common five-lined skink
- Scientific Name: Plestiodon fasciatus
- Length: 5 to 8.5 inches
A small lizard known as the common five-lined skink can be discovered all over the state of Virginia. It’s well-known for its stunning coloring, consisting of a black or grayish body and five stripes of cream color running along its back. They also have a blue tail, which turns darker as the animal gets older.
This species of skink can be discovered in a variety of forest types, and it’s also occasionally spotted on buildings in both urban and suburban areas. They like to hang out in damp places, where they hide under logs, debris, and other things that are on the surface.
6. Eastern slender glass lizard
- Scientific Name: Ophisaurus attenuatus longicaudus
- Length: 22 to 42 inches
It’s common for people to confuse the eastern slender glass lizard, a type of lizard that lacks legs and is long and slender, with a snake. They have smooth, glossy scales ranging from yellow to brown, and their backs are striped with six different colors.
Although both sexes of this species may have a similar appearance, males of this species are typically larger than females. They’re most commonly found in habitats that have dry soils that are well-drained, such as the dry ridges in Piedmont, but they can also be found in urban and suburban areas on occasion.
7. Southeastern five-lined skink
- Scientific Name: Plestiodon inexpectatus
- Length: 5.5 to 8.5 inches
The southeastern five-lined skink is a small, brown-to-black lizard that lives in the southeastern part of the US. Its back is marked by five stripes that can be orange, white, or cream in color and extend down to half of its tail.
This skink lives in a wide variety of arid environments, from dry pine forests and field margins to urban woodpiles and man-made buildings. It eats mostly insects, but also spiders, snails, and occasionally small lizards and rodents.
8. Eastern glass lizard
- Scientific Name: Ophisaurus ventralis
- Length: 18 to 42.6 inches
The eastern glass lizard is the state’s rarest lizard, and because it has no legs, it is frequently misidentified as a snake. In contrast to snakes, however, these reptiles have movable eyelids, external ear openings, and jaws that aren’t flexible.
You can frequently find these glass lizards in Virginia’s maritime forests and grassy areas close to marshes. They mostly search for food below the ground, and their diet consists primarily of insects and other invertebrates.
9. Little brown skink
- Scientific Name: Scincella lateralis
- Length: 3 to 5.75 inches
The Little brown skinks, also known as ground skinks or brown-back lizards, are a species of small reptile that can be found in the Piedmont region all the way down to the eastern parts of the state. They can range in color from tan to golden brown and have a brown or black stripe running down each side of their backs.
It’s most likely that you’ll find them in the leaf litter or grass covers of hardwood or mixed-hardwood forests, as this is where they spend the majority of their time. This is also where they overwinter during the cold season of the year.
10. Northern coal skink
- Scientific Name: Plestiodon anthracinus anthracinus
- Length: 5 to 7 inches
Often found in Piedmont, the northern coal skink (also called the black skink) is a medium-sized lizard with smooth, glossy scales. This species has a brownish appearance, and its body is marked with four stripes that range in color from tan to olive-brown. They’re known to be very secretive and can typically be found in densely wooded areas.
11. Eastern six-lined racerunner
- Scientific Name: Aspidoscelis sexlineata sexlineata
- Length: 6 to 9.5 inches
There is a good chance that you have seen an eastern six-lined racerunner if you have ever seen a lizard in Virginia with six stripes on its body. Typically, their bodies are dark brown, and the stripes on their backs are white, yellow, or bluish-white.
You can frequently see these creatures in agricultural and urban areas, as well as in open fields and woodlands, dune ecosystems, and coastal barrier ecosystems. They’re also called racerunners because they can run at incredibly fast speeds.
12. Italian Wall Lizard
- Scientific Name: Podarcis siculus
- Length: 5.9 to 9.8 inches
The Italian wall lizard is a species of reptile that’s native to the Italian Peninsula and has been recently introduced into Virginia. You can recognize them by the green or brown color on their backs and the white or green color on their bellies.
Because of this species’ ability to thrive in a variety of environments, including those that humans have created, it has been brought into other countries and states in the US.