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3 Cool Lizards in Minnesota

There are only 3 species of lizards in Minnesota that live in the state, all of which are native animals to North America. The state is one of the coldest places in the United States, and being more up north naturally there are less lizard species. It is possible that in the future lizards may possibly become invasive, and build a population but it is not likely.

There are lots of forests, wetlands, lakes, and grassland habitats that house the wild life in Minnesota. Lizards are just one small piece of an even greater ecosystem. Let’s take a look at the 3 lizards that live in Minnesota, and the interesting facts you will want to know about them. 

Lizards in Minnesota


1. 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 Five-lined Skink
  • Adult Size: 4.9 to 8.5 in. (12.5 to 21.5 cm)
  • Lifespan: 6 years 
  • Average Price Range: $12

Common five-lined skinks are native to the eastern United States. Dry woodlands, rocky areas, and oak savannas are the habitat this lizard lives in. Within Minnesota these lizards live near the Minnesota River Valley, and also the eastern parts of the state. 

These lizards are one of two skinks in the state, and get their name from the five lines that run down their body. As they age they tend to lose their vibrant colors, and when born they have blue tails. The stripes on the lizard’s bodies are yellow, or white, and they have a black, tan, gray, or olive color.

Common five-lined skinks are active during the day, and use burrows, large rocks, or thick vegetation to hide in. This lizard preys on small insects, or other types of invertebrates. The spring to October is when these lizards are active, and they hibernate in the winter.

2. Prairie Skink

Prairie Skink (Plestiodon septentrionalis) by dylanfrom785
Prairie Skink (Plestiodon septentrionalis) by dylanfrom785
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Scincidae 
  • Scientific Name: Plestiodon septentrionalis 
  • Other Names: n/a
  • Adult Size: 5 to 9 in. (13 to 22 cm.)
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Average Price Range: n/a

In Minnesota the prairie skink is one of the most commonly encountered lizards. They are seen in early May, until September, and are found in the majority of the state. This lizard lives in grasslands, woodlands, and urban habitats, often near streams, or other water sources. 

A medium-sized species, the prairie skink has tan coloring, with dark brown, and white stripes that run down their sides. They have smooth scales, with a glossy appearance. When born like other skinks they have a bright blue tail.

Burrows are used by this lizard to hibernate, or rest, and they are very adept diggers. Prairie skinks eat spiders, grasshoppers, and other insects, but will avoid eating ants. Sometimes seen basking on a rock in the sun, they are common in their range. 


3. 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

Six-lined racerunners are one of the largest lizards in Minnesota, and also one of the fastest. This lizard is found in the Great Plains of the U.S. Active in the day, they spend their time feeding on insects. They are seen most in the morning, and hide in vegetation or a burrow when it gets too hot.

Six-lined racerunners are named after the six yellow, or orange lines that run from their tail, to their heads. These lizards have a gray, or black coloring, with a very long body, and long toes. The scales of this lizard are square shaped, and they have a white belly.

This lizard is very quick, and able to run 18 mph (29 mph.) to escape predators, or catch prey. They prefer places that are lower in elevation, and dry. Abundant in their range, six-lined racerunners have a stable population. Fire ants, and birds are their main predators. 


What is the largest lizard in Minnesota?

The six-lined racerunner is the largest lizard that lives in Minnesota, but the three species that inhabit the state are generally the same size. A lizard’s size depends on factors like their species, sex, and how much they eat.

Why are there only a few lizards in Minnesota?

The extremely cold habitats, and weather of Minnesota make it so there are not many lizard species, since most lizards prefer a warm environment. Lizards are reptiles, which are cold blooded, and rely on the warmth from outside to regulate their temperature.

Wrapping up

The three lizards that live in Minnesota are all very secretive, but if you know where, and when to look it may make it easier to find them. Lizards can be identified by their color, size, appearance, scales, and behavior. There are more than 7,000 lizard species that live around the world.

It is essential to protect the habitats that lizards live in, and ensure they do not get polluted, or destroyed. Some lizard species in North America are on the decline, and protecting the wilderness is needed to preserve them from extinction. 

Sneaky, shy, and harmless, the more you learn about lizards, the more you love. Comment down below about your experiences with the lizards in Minnesota, and the ones near you.

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