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5 Unique Lizards in Ohio

Ohio, home to a diverse range of 50 reptiles, hosts 5 unique species of lizards. With an array of colors and sizes, these lizards exhibit a fascinating diversity, with some species bearing an uncanny resemblance to one another.

This guide takes you through the world of lizards in Ohio, providing important insights about each species. Although some lizards may appear strikingly similar, careful observation of their appearances, habitats, and behaviors can aid in their identification, often hinging on slight differences.

Not only do lizards offer an intriguing study of nature, but some species in Ohio also make excellent pets. Let’s explore these 5 species of lizards in Ohio, shedding light on the remarkable aspects of each.

Lizards in Ohio

1. 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

Common wall lizards are native to Europe and have been introduced to the United States. This species prefers rocky habitats, and are also found in urban and forest areas. They are active during the day and enjoy climbing trees, and fences.

Common wall lizards are a medium-sized species and come in a variety of colors. They may appear brown to gray and are covered in spots on their back. Males sometimes have blue spots running on their sides. They have cream bellies and very long tails.

Fruits, small insects, and spiders are a few of what this species eats. Able to mate up to three times a year, they lay around 3 to 11 eggs after getting pregnant. The spring through fall months is when this lizard is active most. Snakes, cats, and birds are their main predators.

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 have a large range covering the southeastern United States. They are mainly seen in southern Ohio and are commonly found in open forests. Eastern fence lizards live in forests and open dry habitats. They are arboreal and enjoy climbing on things like fences, trees, crops, and rocks.

This lizard has gray, or brownish coloring. Females have black horizontal marks on their backs. Males are identifiable by their blue-colored bellies, which turn that way during the breeding season. The scales of this lizard are roughly keeled.

Active during the day, this lizard spends its time searching for food or basking in the sun. Predators of this lizard include fire ants, snakes, and larger lizards. Eastern fence lizards mainly feed on insects like beetles, moths, and snails.

3. Little Brown Skink

Little Brown Skink
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

Little brown skinks have a small range in Ohio, found in the far southern portion of the state. Hardwood and mixed forests are the most common types of habitat this lizard is found. They are terrestrial, hanging around the ground in leaf litter, or under natural debris.

Little brown skins are one of the smallest lizards in all of North America and Ohio. They have slender bodies, with brown coloring, and a white or yellowish underside. Their legs are very small, and their tails are long. Their coloring helps them blend into the ground, and leaf litter.

Small insects, spiders, and worms are a few of the animals this lizard eats. They are most active in the spring, and early summer, and breed during this season. Little brown skinks lay between 2 to 7 eggs, and they hatch in less than a month. Under logs, in leaf litter, and under rocks are where this lizard lives, along with its eggs.

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

Common five-lined skinks are one of the most common lizards in Ohio, and have a large range that covers the eastern United States. This species is terrestrial. Near water sources like streams or forests are common places to find this species. Common-five lined skinks are active in the day, and enjoy basking in the sun. They are rarely seen in winter moths, and are believed to stay sheltered in places like under rocks, or in leaves.

Common five-lined skinks are medium sized lizards. They have a blue tail when young, which fades as they age. Males have red cheeks during the breeding season. Yellow stripes run down this lizard’s body, which may fade with age.

Common five-lined skinks feed on a variety of arthropods like spiders, insects, and woodlouse. They may also eat fruits like berries, or even vegetables. This lizard is a species often kept as a pet due to how common they are. In Ohio restrictions are in place on how many can be taken from the wild to keep their population healthy.

5. 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

The broad-headed skink lives in southern Ohio, and they are mainly found in the southeastern United States. Wetlands, forests, and open habitats are where this lizard lives. They dwell both in the ground and in trees. Broad-headed skinks that are older spend their time higher up, while younger lizards are more likely to stay on the ground.

Their large, triangle-shaped head is what this lizard is named after. Males have reddish heads during the breeding season. This lizard has yellow to brownish coloring. They may have around five to seven stripes running down their back, or be plainly colored. When young this species has a bright blue tail, which is used to direct predators’ attacks. They have short legs, and robust bodies, and are one of the bigger lizards in the state.

Broad-headed skinks that are male are usually larger, and females attempt to choose the largest mate. Pheromones are emitted by females to attract mates, and they lay between 8 to 22 eggs. Summer is when eggs are laid, and mothers guard them until they hatch. Active during the day, this lizard spends its time hunting small invertebrates.

Common questions about Ohio lizards

What is the most common lizard in Ohio?

Skinks are the most common type of lizard that lives in Ohio, and three of the five lizard species that are found in the state are in the Scincidae (skink) family. Skinks are slender and are identifiable by their blue tails. Only young lizards have blue tails, but females may keep this shade as they age.

Are the lizards in Ohio dangerous?

There are no venomous, or poisonous lizards that live in Ohio, and the species you may find within the state are harmless. If a lizard is scared it may bite, but only if they are trying to defend its young, or have no other means of escaping. Lizards are timid creatures, and if approached their first reaction is to flee and hide.

What is the biggest lizard in Ohio?

The broad-headed skink is the largest lizard that lives in Ohio and is also one of the biggest inhabiting the southeastern United States. Broad-headed skinks range between 6 to 13 inches (15 to 33 cm.) long and have a stocky appearance. Invasive tegu and glass lizards are some that may be larger than the broad-headed lizards that live in the southeastern U.S.

Wrapping up

Lizards are one of the most beloved types of reptiles, and there are 5 species that you may find in Ohio. Lizards are important in the environment, since they are used for food by other animals, and are also one of the types of animals that help control pest insects. For some lizards are not just animals, but are also pets.

Lizards are one of the most kept reptiles. If you want to keep a lizard as a pet you should thoroughly research the species to properly care for it, giving it the correct habitat and food. Some of the lizards in Ohio make great pets, but before capturing them from the wild you should check your local regulations to ensure you are not entrapping an endangered species.

Lizards in other states

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