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11 of the Most Common Lizards in Florida (Pictures)

If you have ever spent time in Florida, you have probably seen many small lizards skittering by at your feet when you walk outside. Florida is home to an incredibly diverse array of wildlife including lizards both big and small.  We put together this guide of some of the most common lizards you might find in Florida to help you tell them apart and to learn more about the wildlife in your own backyard. 

According to the San Diego Zoo there are 4,675 species of lizards in the world. And Wikipedia says 68 of those species live in Florida. The large majority of these lizards in Florida are not native and were brought in from other countries through the exotic pet trade. They were able to survive in Florida’s warm climate, this has made parts of Florida a haven for exotic species of reptiles.

Lizards in Florida photo collage

The below list looks at 11 of the most common lizards in Florida, which sadly includes mostly invasive or nonnative species of lizards. The most common species is by far the Brown Anole, found virtually everywhere in Florida.

It’s worth noting that there are many other species of Florida that you can find, both native and invasive lizards. However, these species can be harder to find or occur in low densities and in very specific habitats. The following 11 species are by far the most common in Florida, starting with the brown anole, green anole, and the eastern fence lizard.

1. Brown Anole

  • Native to Florida: No 
  • Florida distribution: Found throughout all of Florida
brown anole
brown anole on rock

The Brown Anole was introduced to south Florida from the West Indies in the 1880s. Their population has exploded over the years and their range now covers most of Florida and even parts of south Georgia.

Because they have been established in Florida for so long, many people assume they are native to the sunshine state but in reality they are not and tend to outcompete their native counterpart, the Green Anole. Brown Anoles are incredibly variable in their coloration and patterns.

They are not dangerous but will bite in self defense, however they are too small to hurt you. The male puffs out his throat, also known as a dewlap as a display for females. Brown Anoles are likely the most abundant species of lizard found in Florida and can be found in urban and natural areas.

 2. Green Anole

  • Native to Florida: Yes
  • Florida distribution: Found throughout all of Florida
green anole
green anole showing throat

Green anoles are common in not only Florida, but most of the southeastern United States. They are solid colored and lack the patterns that brown anoles have but like other anoles they are able to change colors so they may be brown or bright green.

One thing that can be used to tell Green Anoles that are a shade of brown from Brown Anoles is that Green Anoles, no matter what color they are, have a thin white line that lines their upper jaw and extends to their ear opening. 

Green Anoles are often outcompeted by Brown Anoles and tend to be found in more natural or pristine areas. In fact, they sometimes are even found in the middle of the marsh in the Florida Everglades.

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3. Eastern Fence Lizard

  • Native to Florida: Yes
  • Florida distribution: Found throughout central and Northern Florida
fence lizard
eastern fence lizard

Fence lizards are found throughout the panhandle and central Florida. They’re gray, black and brown in color, but during the mating season males have blue chins that they use to try to attract a mate.

You are unlikely to find these lizards in urban or suburban areas. They prefer dry, open forests with sandy soil and places with fallen trees and places to hide and feed on insects. Fence lizards are very common in the Southeastern United States and tend to be most active in the morning.

4. Tropical House Gecko

  • Native to Florida: No
  • Florida distribution: Most common in South and Central Florida but found all throughout
tropical house gecko | photo by: Greg Schechter | CC 2.0

This species of gecko that originates from sub-Saharan Africa is now commonly found in Florida. Tropical house geckos are more prevalent in central and south Florida than they are in northern Florida.

They are about 5-7 inches in length and as nocturnal lizards, come out at night to feed on insects. As the name would suggest, these geckos are also found in people’s homes and for some are welcome house guests that feed on pests. They spend most of their time up on the walls or ceilings rather than on the ground. 

5. Mediterranean House Gecko

  • Native to Florida: No 
  • Florida distribution: Found throughout all of Florida, more common in central and northern Florida
Mediterranean house gecko | photo by: Mick Sway | CC 2.0

Mediterranean house geckos are another species of non-native lizards that are now incredibly common throughout Florida, although they tend to be more common in central and northern Florida as they are often out-competed by the Tropical house gecko.

Similar to the tropical house gecko, this species is also found in people’s homes and tends to be more common in urban areas. They are nocturnal and at night can be found under lights, eating insects that are drawn to the light. 

6. Green Iguana

  • Native to Florida: No
  • Florida distribution: East and West coast of south Florida and parts of central Florida
green iguana
green iguana

Another non-native species in Florida, the green iguana was introduced into Florida over the years through the pet trade. They can be found in high densities throughout much of South Florida and have started making their way north. These lizards, unlike some of the other species on this list can get incredibly large (over 4 ft) and are actually quite destructive.

Green iguanas burrow underground which can damage infrastructure and are known to feast on many ornamental plants in people’s gardens. Not to mention, they also have been documented using the burrows of Burrowing Owls and Gopher Tortoises- two threatened species. 

7. Brown basilisk

Brown basilisk on bamboo sticks
Brown basilisk on bamboo sticks | image by Pavel Kirillov via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Native to Florida: No
  • Florida distribution: Coastal south Florida and into central Florida

The Brown basilisk is another non-native lizard found in high densities in parts of Florida. It is also known as the “Jesus Christ Lizard” due to its incredible ability to run short distances across water.

This species originates from central America and thrives in areas that are more urban or built up so long as there is vegetation around for them to shelter in.

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Basilisks are large lizards, growing up to over 2 feet long from head to tail.  The males have large pronounced crests on their head, making it easy to identify them from other common species of lizards in Florida. 

8. Curly tailed lizards

Northern curly tailed lizard crawling
Northern curly tailed lizard crawling | image by Donald Hobern via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Native to Florida: No
  • Florida distribution: Mostly found in coastal south Florida

Curly tailed lizards are yet another species of lizard that has invaded Florida. As the name would suggest, curly tailed lizards have a curly tail that curves upward in a circular like fashion over their back. This makes it very easy to identify them.

These lizards are brown and smaller than the Brown Basilisk, growing to be 5-9 inches. That being said, these small lizards have quite the attitude and have been seen chasing off Brown Basilisks that enter their territory!

You are most likely to find curly tailed lizards in urban or suburban areas where they thrive in south Florida. 

9. Knight Anoles

Knight anole
Knight anole | image by Adam Skowronski via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Native to Florida: No
  • Florida distribution: South Florida

Knight Anoles, also referred to as Cuban Knight Anoles, are a large species of Anole that was brought to Florida from Cuba. They are large, brightly colored green lizards that grow up to be about 20 inches long.

These lizards are common in vegetated areas like urban or suburban parks with forest patches, although they can be hard to spot due to them being entirely arboreal. 

Knight Anoles eat invertebrates and are even capable of eating small vertebrates like birds or other reptiles, making them a threat to Florida’s native wildlife. 

10. Red-headed Agamas

Red-headed agama on a rock
Red-headed agama on a rock | image by Stig Nygaard via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Native to Florida: No
  • Florida distribution: South to Central Florida

Red-headed Agamas, otherwise known as Peter’s rock Agama are large (up to 12 inches) lizards that were brought to Florida from sub-Saharan Africa in the pet trade. They are becoming increasingly more common in south and central Florida and can be found in both urban and more rural areas. 

This lizard tends to stand out amongst other lizards due to the male’s striking coloration. During breeding season, males have bright orange or red heads, dark indigo-colored bodies, and red and black tails. 

11. Spiny–tailed Iguanas

Black spiny-tailed iguana on the ground
Black spiny-tailed iguana on the ground | image by gailhampshire via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Native to Florida: No
  • Florida distribution: South to Central Florida

Spiny-tailed Iguanas were brought to Florida in the pet trade sometime in the 1970s and have been flourishing there ever since. They are a dark brown, almost gray color with black and pale stripes down their body.

And as the name would suggest, they also have small spines down their tails. They do not grow to be as large as Green Iguanas but can be as long as 4 feet. 

Like Green Iguanas, Spiny-tailed Iguanas also create burrows. They are known to displace Gopher tortoises from their burrows which are a threatened species in Florida, making Spiny-tailed Iguanas a high-priority species for management.