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15 Cool Lizards in South Carolina

South Carolina, home to a diverse array of wildlife, boasts approximately 15 species of lizards. These reptiles form a significant part of the 143 amphibians and reptiles found in the state’s wilderness. While 12 of these lizards are native to South Carolina, several others have been introduced over time.

Renowned for its marshes, woodlands, and stunning coastline, South Carolina offers a variety of habitats for these creatures. This guide will delve into the world of lizards in South Carolina, providing insights about their diets, predators, and habitats. So, let’s embark on this exciting exploration of the 15 lizard species that call South Carolina their home.

Lizards in South Carolina

1. Green Anole

Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis)
Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Dactyloidae
  • Scientific Name: Anolis carolinensis
  • Other Names: American anole, Red-throated anole
  • Adult Size: 5 to 8 in. (12.7 to 20.32 cm.)
  • Lifespan: 5 to 8 years
  • Average Price Range: $10

Green anoles are native to South Carolina, and they are found in the southeastern United States. This species is one of the most common lizards in the region. They prefer high humidity, and can be found in urban areas, swamps, parks, wooded beaches, and other similar places.

Green anoles while green, can also be brown. Their color may change depending on the environment, temperature, and mood. Green anoles are slender, and medium sized. They have a narrow head, with a white belly. Males have a large flap of skin under their neck called a dewlap, which has red coloring.

Male green anoles are very aggressive with other males, and will fight for their territory. Females choose males based on their size, and color to mate. Green anoles are spotted most in the spring and fall months, and they are active in the day. They lay eggs regularly until they reach around 10 eggs. Green anoles have soft-shelled eggs, which hatch in around two months.

2. Brown Anole

Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei)
Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Dactyloidae
  • Scientific Name: Anolis sagrei
  • Other Names: Bahaman Anole, Cuban Brown Anole
  • Adult Size: 5 to 9 in. (12 to 22.86 cm)
  • Lifespan: 5 years
  • Average Price Range: $10

Brown anoles are a species that has been introduced to South Carolina. They are native to the Caribbean, but are found in places like Hawaii, Florida, California, and Louisiana. Brown anoles live in a variety of tropical, and subtropical habitats. Brown anoles are terrestrial, and do not climb trees often. They may be found on smaller vegetation to bask.

This lizard is named after its light, or dark brown coloring. They can change to color to be darker brown, or even black. Their dewlaps have yellow, or orange coloring. Brown anoles have a slender body with a long tail.

Brown anoles have become invasive in many areas due to their hardy nature, and adaptability. Crickets, ants, grasshoppers, roaches, and other small arthropods are what this species eats. They mate in the warmer time of the year, and males get very territorial during this season. Larger lizards, birds, and snakes are the brown anoles most common predators.

3. Common Five-lined Skink

Five Lined Skink - (Plestiodon fasciatus)
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 have a large range that covers the entirety of South Carolina. This lizard is native to the southeastern United States. They are terrestrial, living in moist woodlands near streams. In winter this lizard is artery seen, and it is assumed they take shelter under things like rocks or logs.

Common five-lined skinks are named after the five stripes that run longitudinally on its body. When born this lizard has a bright blue tail, which is used to divert the attacks of predators, and make other animals think they are poisonous. Common five-lined skinks have grayish, or black bodies. Their stripes may be yellow or white, and females may sometimes keep the blue coloring on their tail. Males have red, or orange coloring on their face.

Common five-lined skinks diet mainly is made up of arthropods like spiders, and insects. They may also eat smaller animals like frogs, mice, and lizards. Females lay eggs in the spring and summer, and they lay around 15 of them. This species has a stable population, and is abundant in its region.

4. 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

Southeastern five-lined skinks are native to the southeastern United States, including South Carolina. These lizards inhabit wooded, and vegetated habitats near freshwater. They are active in the day, wandering around the forest floor. Southeastern five-lined skinks are more tolerable to drier conditions unlike the common five-lined skink.

Narrow stripes run along this lizard’s body, which become thicker as they age. Younger lizards may have a blue, or purple tail. Males have a bright red head, and larger jaws. The southeastern five-lined skink may have tan, or black coloring. They are very similar to the common five-lined skink but are smaller. The two lizards are nearly identical, and it is very hard to tell them apart based on appearance.

Southeastern five-lined skinks  feed on larger insects like grasshoppers. They are regularly kept as a pet, due to their hardy nature, and easy care. This species lays between 6 to 12 eggs, typically laying them in the summer.

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

In South Carolina and the other regions in the eastern United States lives the broad-headed skink. This species is common in woodlands, and coastal plains habitats. They are arboreal, but are also found on the ground. Broad-headed skinks are more common in the Coastal Plains, than the lower mountain regions.

Broad-headed skinks are the largest skink in their region. This species has a blue tail when young. They have black, brown, or gray coloring, with stripes running down their body. Males have larger heads, which also have red coloring.

Prey like spiders, and insects are what this lizard eats. They mate in the summer, and lay up to 22 eggs, placing them under logs or in soil. Broad-headed skinks have predators like larger birds, or small mammals, and drop their tail when threatened.

6. 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

Native to the southeastern United States, the little brown skink can be found all over South Carolina. This species lives in woodland habitats, and is more common around freshwater. Little brown skinks are terrestrial, and spend their time in soil and leaf litter.

Also called the ground skink, this species is one of the smallest lizards in North America. They have tan coloring, with stripes on their sides, long tails, and a pale belly. Females grow faster, but males are able to become larger.

Spiders, insects, and isopods are what this small lizard eats. Their smaller size makes them an easy meal for animals like birds, larger lizards, and spiders. Little brown skinks can drop their tails, and regrow them like other lizards.

7. 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 an extremely uncommon lizard in South Carolina, and they are only found in the extreme northwestern corner of the state. Coal skinks live in wooded, and hilly habitats, often near water sources like creeks. They are a terrestrial lizard, making their home under rocks or on leaf litter.

This species is medium sized, and has a smooth appearance. They range from tan, to olive color, and a broad dark stripe runs down their sides across their body. Coal skinks are active in the day, spending their time eating small insects, and spiders.

8. 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

Native to the southeastern region of the United States, the six-lined race runner is the only race runner lizard that lives in South Carolina. This species is active in the day, and lives in grasslands, woodlands, floodplains, and rocky habitats. They prefer places with sandy soil, and are a common species.

Six-lined racerunners are named after the six lines that run down their back. They have dark brown, or greenish coloring, with yellowish stripes on them. Their tails are long, sometimes nearly double their body length.

This slender lizard feeds on insects, and is active most in the spring and summer. Mating season occurs during this time, and females lay around 6 eggs.

9. 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

The eastern fence lizard has a wide range spread across the southern United States. This species is found across South Carolina. Habitats like hardwood and pine forests, and dry open plains are where this species lives. They are extremely arboreal, and enjoy climbing larger trees, and structures.

Eastern fence lizards have gray coloring. Their scales are roughly keeled. Medium in size, the tail of this species is very long. Females have black markings on back, while males have blue coloring on their underside, and neck.

During the day this species is active, and they enjoy basking in the sun. They mainly feed on smaller insects and spiders. Eastern fence lizards lay one clutch of eggs a year, but as they age females can lay more clutches. This species is a common lizard to find in South Carolina.

10. Texas Horned Lizard

Texas Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum)
Texas Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum)
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Phrynosomatidae
  • Scientific Name: Phrynosoma cornutum
  • Other Names: Horny Toad
  • Adult Size: 3.7 to 5 in. (9.93 ot 12.7 cm.)
  • Lifespan: 5 years
  • Average Price Range: $40

Texas horned lizards are native to North America, found in places like Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Kansas. This species was introduced to South Carolina, and other similar areas, mainly introduced because of the pet trade. They prefer places with loose soil for them to dig.

Tan in color, this lizard is covered in horns, and has a robust body. Large horns appear on their head, and spikes cover their entire body. The coloring of this species helps them blend into dusty rough terrain, and their horns help them hide in sparse vegetation. Their spikes also make them less palatable to predators.

The majority of this lizard’s diet is made up of harvester ants, but they also eat other insects like grasshoppers, beetles, and termites. This lizard is capable of squirting blood from its eye at, up to 5 ft away. This defense helps protect them from animals like dogs, and coyotes.

11. 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

Slender glass lizards are native to the eastern United States, and they are found all across South Carolina. Fields, woodlands, and places with sandy habitats are where they live. They are a burrowing species that remains inactive in the winter.

Slender glass lizards have yellow, or brown bodies, with six longitudinal stripes running down their body. This lizard may have white specks on their scales. Their bodies are like a snake, but these lizards can be distinguished from them by their ear holes, and blinkable eyelids.

Slender glass lizards eat grasshoppers, spiders, snails,  and small rodents that fit into their mouths. While not endangered in South Carolina, this species has experienced habitat loss and has become vulnerable in some regions. Insecticide and humans capturing them are also reasons this lizard’s population has dwindled.

12. Island Glass Lizard

Island Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus compressus)
Island Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus compressus)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Anguidae
  • Scientific Name: Ophisaurus compressus
  • Other Names: n/a
  • Adult Size: 15 to 24 in. (38 to 61 cm.)
  • Lifespan: 10 to 30 years
  • Average Price Range: $50

Island glass lizards are mostly found in Florida, but they also live in small regions within southeastern Georgia, and South Carolina. Island glass lizards live commonly in sandy scrub habitats. Their rarity, small range, and secretive nature makes them a lizard not well studied.

Island glass lizards have long slender bodies, and lack legs. They have brown, or yellow coloring, with dark stripes running down them. They have a similar appearance to other glass snakes. This species feeds on smaller insects, and their jaws cannot open as large as snakes. Island glass lizards can drop their tail if stressed, and regrow it over time.

13. Mimic Glass Lizard

Mimic Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus mimicus) - source
Mimic Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus mimicus) – source
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Anguidae
  • Scientific Name: Ophisaurus mimicus
  • Other Names: n/a
  • Adult Size: 15 to 26 in. ( 38 to 66 cm.)
  • Lifespan: 10 to 30 years
  • Average Price Range: $50

Mimic glass lizards are found on the coast of South Carolina, and live within other nearby coastal regions in the southeastern United States. This lizard lives in dry habitats, and pinewood forests. This species has a really small range, and is associated with longleaf pine forests.

The mimic glass lizard is a slender species, with a body that is snake-like. They have brown, or yellowish coloring. Dark stripes run down them, and their underside is pale. Compared to other glass lizards in South Carolina this species is thinner, and smaller.

The mimic glass lizard is not well studied because of their secretive nature, and smaller range. This lizard feeds on insects, and smaller invertebrates. They breed in the summer, and guard their eggs until they hatch.

14. Eastern Glass Lizard

Eastern Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus ventralis)
Eastern Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus ventralis)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Anguidae
  • Scientific Name: Ophisaurus ventralis
  • Other Names: n/a
  • Adult Size: 18 to 43 in. (46 to 108 cm.)
  • Lifespan: 10 to 30 years
  • Average Price Range: $50

Eastern glass lizards have a small range, and are native to the southeastern United States. This species is found in South Carolina, but only in the southeastern half of the state. Wetlands, and habitats with moist soil is where this species lives. They live in burrows, and prefer places with sandy, loose soil.

A very large lizard, this species has a body similar to a snake, and lacks legs completely. They have smooth scales, with greenish, yellow, and black coloring. They have robust bodies, and are one of the largest lizards in South Carolina.

Grasshoppers, beetles, and small animals are some of the animals this lizard feeds on. They do not have a flexible jaw like a snake, and only eat things that can fit into their mouth. This lizard will hunt both underground in burrows, or on land. They can be active in the day or night.

15. 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

In South Carolina the Mediterranean house gecko lives in the coastal plains, sandhills, Piedmont, and Blue Ridge areas of the state. This species is not native to the state, but was introduced to the region. Mediterranean house geckos are native to north Africa, and Southern Europe. Marshes, coastal regions, caves, and shrublands are common habitats these lizards live in.

Medium in size, this lizard has tannish brown coloring. Speckled markings of brown, and yellow color cover them, and their skin is very granular. This lizard has large eyes, with an elliptical pupil. They have long tails, which can be lost if they are under stress from a predator.

The Mediterranean house gecko is a nocturnal species. They feed on insects and spiders they find, and get eaten by predators like cats, snakes, birds, and large spiders. Their ability to hunt a variety of prey, and their hardiness are why this lizard is a common invasive species.

FAQ

What is the most common lizard in South Carolina?

The green anole is one of the most common lizards in South Carolina, and these lizards can be found all over the state. This species enjoys climbing trees, fences, and are even seen on houses. They are active during the day, and are spotted most in the spring and fall months.

Are there poisonous, or dangerous lizards in South Carolina?

South Carolina does not have any venomous, or poisonous lizards, and the lizards that live within the state are typically harmless. The lizards in South Carolina are not aggressive, and if spotted they will flee to a hidden area.

Are there invasive lizards in South Carolina?

The black and white tegu is the only lizard species that is invasive to South Carolina, and only a handful have been documented in the wild. Black and white tegus are native to Argentina, but are a very invasive lizard due to the pet trade, and people releasing them into the wild.

Wrapping up

There are around 15 lizards that live in South Carolina, but there may be more as it is possible for new lizards to be introduced to the area. Some of the lizards that are found in South Carolina make good pets, but you should always do your research to see what lizard is best for you. None of the lizards in the state are dangerous, and when knowing when and where to look, you can easily find them in the wild.

Lizards are a part of South Carolina’s diverse ecosystem. They are used for food by animals like birds, snakes, amphibians, and small mammals. Lizards are also predators for spiders, and lizards, helping control their populations. There are over 150 lizard species in the United States, and the ones in South Carolina are just a few to find in the country.

Lizards in other nearby states

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