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11 Fun Lizards in Kentucky

In Kentucky there are 11 lizard species that live within the state, a few of which have been introduced to the area. Kentucky is a flourishing state, with habitats like woodlands, grasslands, and swamps. Lizards are just a few of the reptiles that live in Kentucky, with the state housing a myriad of snakes, and turtles.

While many lizard species will look similar, there are plenty of differences to know about. Each lizard species is unique, and you can typically tell them apart by examining their appearance, behavior, and the area they are found. The more you learn about lizards the easier it will be to find, and identify them in the states.

This article will go over the 11 lizard species that live in Kentucky, and some of the amazing things that you should know about them. If you enjoy looking for animals like lizards in the wild, or know what species can make a good pet then this article will definitely come in handy.

Lizards in Kentucky

Teiidae

1. Six-lined Racerunner

Six-lined Racerunner (Aspidoscelis sexlineata)
Six-lined Racerunner (Aspidoscelis sexlineata)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Teiidae
  • Scientific Name: Aspidoscelis sexlineata
  • Other Names: Sandlapper lizard
  • Adult Size: 6 to 9.5 in. (15 to 24 cm.)
  • Lifespan: 4 to 5 years
  • Average Price Range: $30

In Kentucky the six-lined racerunner lives within the western half of the state. This lizard is native to the southeastern region of the United States. Six-lined racerunners are active in the day, and are very tolerant to heat. This species is found in woodlands, grasslands, and open semi-arid habitats.

Six-lined racerunners are named after the six lines that run down their back from their head to their tail. The stripes on this lizard are yellowish, or orange. They are medium-sized to large lizards, with very large tails. This species has tan, black, or dark green coloring.

These lizards spend their day feeding on insects, and are active most in the morning. Six-lined racerunners are very quick, able to run up to 18 mph (29 kmh). Their speed is used for catching prey, but also escaping predators like snakes, birds, and carnivorous mammals.

Six-lined racerunners breed in the summer, and they lay up to 6 eggs in this period. Their eggs hatch in the early fall, and in the winter this lizard hibernates when the cold comes. Six-lined racerunners have a stable population, but in some of the places where they live they are affected by habitat loss.

Phrynosomatidae

2. Eastern Fence Lizard

Eastern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus)
Eastern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Phrynosomatidae
  • Scientific Name: Sceloporus undulatus
  • Other Names: Prairie lizard, fence swift, pine lizard, gray lizard
  • Adult Size: 4 to 7.25 in. (10.16 to 18.41 cm.)
  • Lifespan: 4 years
  • Average Price Range: $20

Eastern fence lizards are found across the southeastern United States, and may be seen throughout Kentucky. This species is common in woodlands, shrublands, and grassland habitats. They are a lizard that often climbs, and you may see them on things like fences, rocks, and trees.

Eastern fence lizards are tan, to black, and they have roughly keeled scales. The backs of these lizards may have a dark chevron pattern on them. Males can have a blue coloring under them on their sides and their chin. These lizards have sharp claws which help them climb.

Male eastern fence lizards may have a uniform, brown, or reddish coloring, while females can have bluish tinge on their back. When mating these lizards lay their eggs under logs, and other moist places. Eastern fence lizards when young produce one clutch of three to thirteen eggs. As they grow they can begin to lay more.

Eastern fence lizards are very cold tolerable when compared with other lizards. They feed on insects like grasshoppers, and other arthropods. These lizards forage during the day, and females may eat more during the mating season to prepare their eggs. Predators of this species include fire ants, large snakes, and carnivorous mammals.

Scincidae

3. Coal Skink

Coal Skink (Plestiodon anthracinus) - source
Coal Skink (Plestiodon anthracinus) – source
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Scincidae
  • Scientific Name: Plestiodon anthracinus
  • Other Names: n/a
  • Adult Size: 5.1 to 7.1 in. (13 to 18 cm.)
  • Lifespan: 6 years
  • Average Price Range: n/a

Coal skinks are common in the eastern United States, but have a scattered range across the region. These lizards live in habitats like woodlands, hillsides, and rocky areas near springs. They prefer places that are moist, and near water sources. Coal skinks hide in loose leaf litter, but may also hide under debris like logs, or rocks.

These skinks have a dark coloring, with stripes running down their body. In the breeding season males may have a reddish coloring near their face. Coal skinks may have tan, olive, brown, or black coloring on them, with a slender body.

Coal skinks mate in the spring, or early summer and lay up to 9 eggs in this period. When born, skinks like this species have blue tails, which may fade with age. Like other lizards, coal skinks can drop their tails to help them escape predators.

4. Common Five-lined Skink

Common Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus)
Common Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Scincidae
  • Scientific Name: Plestiodon fasciatus
  • Other Names: American
  • Adult Size: 4.9 to 8.5 in. (12.5 to 21.5 cm)
  • Lifespan: 6 years
  • Average Price Range: $12

The common five-lined skink can be found in the majority of Kentucky, and these lizards have a large range in the eastern United States. These lizards are terrestrial mainly, but may sometimes be seen on trees or fences. Five-lined skinks live in moist wooded habitats.

These lizards are named after the five lines that run down their body. They have a black to tan coloring, with reddish or yellow lines running down their body. Common five-lined skinks have a blue tail when born, which may fade with age. Males have a red head in the breeding season, but overall their colors become less vibrant with age.

Common five-lined skinks are active most in the spring and summer months, and this is also when this lizard breeds. They lay their eggs under logs, rocks, or in loose soil. This lizard is mainly active in the day, and spends their time feeding on insects, and other invertebrates.

5. Southeastern Five-lined Skink

Southeastern Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon inexpectatus)
Southeastern Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon inexpectatus)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Scincidae
  • Scientific Name: Plestiodon inexpectatus
  • Other Names: n/a
  • Adult Size: 5.5 to 8.5 in. (13.97 to 21.59 cm.)
  • Lifespan: 6 years
  • Average Price Range: n/a

The southeastern five-lined skink is native to the eastern United States. These lizards live in habitats near water, with lots of vegetation. In Kentucky they are very rare in the state, and their population is mainly in the eastern region of the state. Southeastern five-lined skinks are terrestrial, and active in the day.

These lizards have a tan, olive, or black coloring, with five stripes running down their body. These lizards can have broad stripes on them, and they are slightly larger than the five-lined skink. Southeastern five-lined skinks may have a blue tail when young. Males can have reddish heads.

Insects like grasshoppers are the main prey of this lizard. They are active most in the spring and fall. Southeastern five-lined skinks lay around 6 to 12 eggs, which hatch around a month later. While in Kentucky they are not as common as other lizards, this species has a stable population in its range.

6. Broad-headed Skink

Broad-headed Skink (Plestiodon laticeps)
Broad-headed Skink (Plestiodon laticeps)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Scincidae
  • Scientific Name: Plestiodon laticeps
  • Other Names: Broadhead Skink, Red-headed Scorpion
  • Adult Size: 5.9 to 13 in. (15 to 33 cm.)
  • Lifespan: 4 to 8 years
  • Average Price Range: n/a

Broad-headed skinks live all across Kentucky, and these lizards are one of the largest species in the state. They are native to the southeastern United States. Oak forest, and other woodlands are where these lizards live. They are semi-arboreal, often seen in the trees or on the ground.

The head of this lizard is very large. This species has a triangular shaped head, with large claws. Broad-headed skinks have a plain tan, olive, or green coloring. Their large heads have a reddish appearance, and their underside is plain. When born juvenile broad-headed skinks can have stripes or blue tails, which fade with age.

Broad-headed skinks typically forage on the ground, and use trees for shelter, or to escape predators. These lizard pheromones mate, and they can lay up to 22 eggs in the breeding season. Broad-headed skinks have a large range, with a stable population where they live. Insects, snails, and even other smaller lizards is what this species eats.

7. Little Brown Skink

Little Brown Skink (Scincella lateralis)
Little Brown Skink (Scincella lateralis)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Scincidae
  • Scientific Name: Scincella lateralis
  • Other Names: Ground Skink, Brown-backed Skink
  • Adult Size: 3 to 5.25 in. (7.62 to 13.3 cm.)
  • Lifespan: 2.5 years
  • Average Price Range: $5

The little brown skink is native to the southeastern United States, and is found in most of the state, but the northern, and far eastern portions. Little brown skinks are a fossorial lizard, living underground, in loose soil, or leaf litter. Deciduous or mixed forests near water sources like streams are where this lizard lives.

Little brown skinks are very small lizards, and are one of the smallest in all of North America. These lizards are named after their brown, or coppery color, and may have dark specks on them. Little brown skinks have a slender body with very small limbs. They have a dark stripe on their sides, with a plain cream belly.

The little brown skinks are active in the day, but sometimes forage at night. They feed on small insects, spiders, and isopods they find in their habitats. Similar to other lizards, this species’ tongue is flicked out, and used to read chemical signals.

When breeding little brown skinks lay around 2 to 3 eggs, and can have up to 6 clutches a year. They are seen most from the spring to fall, and females will guard their eggs until they hatch. Little brown skinks are preyed on by larger lizards, birds, and mammals like rats, or racoons.

Anguidae

8. Slender Glass Lizard

Slender Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus attenuatus)
Slender Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus attenuatus)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Anguidae
  • Scientific Name: Ophisaurus attenuatus
  • Other Names: n/a
  • Adult Size: 22 to 46 in. (55.88 to 116.84 cm.)
  • Lifespan: 10 to 30 years
  • Average Price Range: $50

The slender glass lizard is one of the largest lizards that live in Kentucky. This species has a scattered population in the state, and the eastern region of the U.S. Slender glass lizards are active in the day, and spend their lives in burrows. They are seen from the spring to fall, and will hibernate in the winter.

These lizards have a very long body, with no legs, and have a similar appearance to a snake. Slender glass lizards have brown to yellowing coloring, with a dark stripe that runs down their body. The earholes, and blinkable eyelids of these lizards are what distinguish them from snakes.

Slender glass lizards are able to drop their tail, which they use if attacked to escape predators. These lizards are common in sandy coastal plain habitats. They are often seen in fields, and sandhill habitats.

The slender glass lizard is not able to open their mouths as large as a snake, and will only feed on animals that can fit into their mouths. These lizards may eat insects, small mammals, and other small reptiles that can fit into their mouth. Predators of these lizards include snakes, hawks, and other predatory birds. The main threat to this species is the fragmentation of their habitat, and the pollution of their habitat due to insecticides.

Gekkonidae

9. Mediterranean House Gecko

Mediterranean House Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus)
Mediterranean House Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus)
  • Experience Level: Beginners
  • Family: Gekkonidae
  • Scientific Name: Hemidactylus turcicus
  • Other Names: Moon Lizard, Turkish Gecko
  • Adult Size: 4 to 5 in. (10 to 13 cm.)
  • Lifespan: 3 to 9 years
  • Average Price Range: $10

The Mediterranean house gecko is a species native to the Mediterranean, but has been introduced to several places around the world. These lizards mainly live in urban areas, near homes, or warehouses. They are believed to have traveled to new regions by stowing away on cargo ships.

The Mediterranean gecko is a small species, with yellowish, elliptical eyes. They have very bumpy skin, with tan, to light cream coloring. The Mediterranean house gecko has sticky toe pads on their feet which help them climb. You can also see brownish, or purplish spots appear on their body.

Mediterranean house geckos are active at night, using this time to feed on insects, and other small invertebrates. They hunt near homes, and are common around light sources that attract insects. Due to this lizard’s adaptability, they have managed to become invasive in regions like Kentucky, and other areas in North America.

You may hear this lizard when actively making a chirping sound, which they use to communicate, and do things like attract a mate. These lizards squeaking and mating are most common in the spring to fall. The eyesight of these lizards are great, which they use to track prey, and spot predators.

10. Tropical House Gecko

Tropical House Geckos (Hemidactylus mabouia)
Tropical House Geckos (Hemidactylus mabouia)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Gekkonidae
  • Scientific Name: Hemidactylus mabouia
  • Other Names: Cosmopolitan House Gecko
  • Adult Size: 5 in. (12.7 cm.)
  • Lifespan: 3 to 5 years
  • Average Price Range: n/a

The tropical house gecko is a lizard that is native to sub-Saharan Africa. They have been introduced to several regions around the world including the Americas, and the Caribbean. Urban habitats are where this lizard lives, and they are active at night.

Tropical house geckos are a small species with light brown to dark coloring. They have small limbs with pads on their feet to help them climb. These geckos have yellow eyes, with an elliptical shape. Their tails are very long, with bands on them. Their bodies have a granular appearance.

You can find these lizards hanging near artificial light sources, and other places that get lots of insect traffic. They enjoy climbing, and are often seen on walls, and other structures. When active at night you can often hear this species make a chirping sound, which sound like rapid squeaks.

Tropical house geckos are often found near homes, and are good for controlling the insect population in their regions. These lizards when near homes often confine their poop to a specific area, and are not usually noticeable due to their secretive nature.

11. Common Wall Lizard

Common Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis)
Common Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Lacertidae
  • Scientific Name: Podarcis muralis
  • Other Names: European Wall Lizard
  • Adult Size: 3 to 7.9 in. (7.5 to 20 cm.)
  • Lifespan: 7 years
  • Average Price Range: n/a

The common wall lizard is an invasive lizard species that is native to Europe, which is why it is also called the European wall lizard. These lizards have been spotted in northern Kentucky, but are a rare species to come across in the state. Common wall lizards live in urban, and rocky environments.

Small and thin in size, these lizards have a green to brownish coloring. They have a spotted, or reticulated pattern. Common wall lizards have a tannish coloring near their tail, with a pinkish or red belly.

Common wall lizards were introduced to the Kentucky region around the 1950s. They feed on various insects, and plant materials like fruit. Common wall lizards are able to reproduce very quickly, and are tolerable to most climates, which is why they can become invasive. Chemicals are used by these lizards to communicate with others, but also track prey.

FAQ

What is the largest Lizard in Kentucky?

The slender glass lizard is the largest lizard species that lives in Kentucky. Slender glass lizards can grow up to 33 in. and have a slender, snake-like body. The broad-headed skink is another large lizard in the state, and is the largest species with legs.

Are there any invasive lizards in Kentucky?

In Kentucky there are several invasive lizard species which include the tropical house gecko, the Mediterranean house gecko, and common wall lizards. Invasive lizards may be rarer than the native species in the state, but some may be dangerous to native species, since they can compete for resources like food, and habitats.

In Kentucky what are the most common lizards?

The five-lined skink is one of the most common lizard species in Kentucky. These lizards live across Kentucky, and are native to the eastern United States. Common five-lined skinks are found often in woodland habitats, but can be seen in most habitats within the state.

Wrapping up

Kentucky has 11 lizard species that inhabit the state, which are just a few of the more than 50 reptiles in the area. Lizards are very important since they are used for food by some animals, and help control the populations of several invertebrates. Kentucky is home to a variety of wildlife, and protecting the habitats they live in is essential in maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

Keeping a lizard as a pet is a great way to learn more about certain species, but not all lizards are meant for captivity. Lizards in the wild do not make good pets, since they can carry diseases, and overall have a shorter lifespan.

In Kentucky you may find a variety of animals from mammals, to sneaky lizards. Learning more about the various animals in the state will not only make you appreciate Kentucky’s wildlife, but also what species should be protected.

More lizards in nearby states

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