Home Field and Swamp: Animals and Their Habitats

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Lizards (order Squamata, Class Reptilia, Subphylum Vertebrata, Phylum Chordata, Kingdom Animalia, Domain Eukaryota)

Lizards (including skinks and anoles) share the Squamata order with snakes.  Lizards comprise four Squamata suborders; snakes make up the fifth.

These classifications constitute valid taxa according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System.

Eastern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus, family Phrynosomatidae, suborder Iguania)

These lizards can grow to six inches long, not including their tails.  But the typical lizard you see is young and small (two or three inches long).  They show up in the woods near logs or on trees.  They are probably responsible for most of the loudest shuffling noises under the leaves in deciduous forests in our area (with the possible exception of toads).

Breeding adult male Eastern Fence Lizard, Occoneechee Mountain Natural Area, Orange County, NC, 4/9/06.  This lizard was on the side of a tree and the picture has been rotated 90.  Female Eastern Fence Lizard, Eno River State Park (near Bobbitt's Hole), Orange County, NC, 10/4/11 Adult female Eastern Fence Lizard, Eno River State Park, Few's Ford access, Cox Mountain, Orange County, NC, 4/12/06


Young female Eastern Fence Lizard, only 2 inches long, Hanging Rock State Park, Stokes County, NC, 8/24/11 Young female Eastern Fence Lizard, Haw River State Park, Guilford & Rockingham Counties, NC, 5/31/08.  This lizard appeared in a garden near a building, accompanied by a large skink. Young male Eastern Fence Lizard, Asheboro, Randolph County, NC, 4/6/05.  This lizard appears to be diseased, with an odd mass on his head.

Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis, family Phrynosomatidae, suborder Iguania)

A Western Fence Lizard, San Rafael, CA, 10/5/12 Western Fence Lizard, Larkspur, Marin County, CA, 5/5/16        

Anole (Anolis Carolinensis, family Polycrotidae, suborder Iguania)

This is the only anole species native to the US.  We used to call them "American chameleons" when I was growing up because of their remarkable ability to change their color -- or combinations of colors -- to match their environment. 

Male Green Anole, New Hanover County Arboretum, Wilmington, NC, 6/23/06.  Male Carolina Anole displaying Green Anole with katydid prey, Goose Creek State Park, Beaufort County, NC, 9/21/08   Green Anole, Ft. Fisher State Recreational Area, New Hanover County, NC, 10/12/06.  You can see some pigment changes on the head and tail.  Must be wrestling with indecision! Carolina Anole, apparently molting, Environmental Education Center wall, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 11/17/10


Green Anole, Ocracoke, Hyde County, NC, 5/15/05.  I chased this anole out of  the middle of the road onto the grass, when it apparently felt sufficiently camouflaged to let me take this photo.  Tail is truncated. Green Anole, Fort Fisher Basin Trail, New Hanover County,  NC, 11/17/04. Green Anole, rural Chatham County, NC, 11/9/05 Green Anole panting in Fredericksburg, VA

© 2006 Mick Phillips

Six-lined Racerunner (Cnemidophorus sexlineatus, family Teiidae, suborder Autarchoglossa)

Six-lined Racerunner, Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, Dare County, NC, 5/13/04. Six-lined Racerunner, Carolina Beach State Park, New Hanover County, NC, 6/23/06 Six-lined Racerunner, Fort Fisher Basin Trail, NC 9/29/04.    

Ground Skink (Scincella lateralis, family Scincidae, suborder Autarchoglossa)

Ground Skink (about 1 inch long), Durham, NC, 5/4/14 Ground Skink, Durham, NC, 5/5/15 Ground Skink, Dare County, NC, 10/5/05.  This is one long (3 inches), skinny lizard, with really tiny feet (you can see three if you look hard enough).  It moved like a snake.  At the time of the photo, it was hiding from me, hence the poor visibility.  Thanks to Alan Kneidel for ID. Ground Skink, Eno River State Park, Fews Ford access, top of Cox Mountain, Orange County, NC, 5/27/06.  This skink was very tiny, not much more than an inch long.  It was hiding among rocks when this photo was taken. Ground Skink, Carolina Beach State Park, New Hanover County, NC, 10/13/06

Broadhead Skink (Plestiodon laticeps), family Scincidae, suborder Autarchoglossa)

Broadhead Skink, Durham, NC, 5/13/18 Male Broadhead Skink, Durham, NC, 5/1/16 Male Broadhead Skink, Durham, NC, 5/16/08 Male Broadhead Skink, Hanging Rock State Park, Stokes County, NC, 5/22/08 Male Broadhead Skink with tail stump, shortly after skirmish with another skink. Haw River State Park, NC, 5/30/08

Common Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus, family Scincidae, suborder Autarchoglossa)

Breeding male Common Five-lined Skink, Durham, NC, 4/13/11 Juvenile Common Five-lined Skink, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 6/10/15      

Southeastern Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon inexpectatus)

Southeastern Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon inexpectatus), Durham, NC, 6/2/16

Puerto Rican Lizards

This might be a Brown Anole, a species found mainly in southern Florida and the Caribbean. Puerto Rico, 1/8/05. This Isla Verde anole was watching me carefully. 1/6/05. This Loza anole demonstrates very effective camouflage while still getting a lot of sun. 1/10/05. Mystery lizard, 1/10/05.

Copyright © 2005-2019 by Dorothy Pugh