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What are the Different Types of Lizards?

By S. Mithra
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Lizards are reptiles, which means they are cold-blooded, lay eggs, and covered by scales instead of feathers or fur. Some live in trees, underground, on the banks of rivers, or in the desert. Certain species eat insects, others fruit, and still others prey on small mammals. They come in all colors and sizes, and are equipped with innovative methods of defense, reproduction, and predation.

Depending on who is asked, the different types of lizards are divided into anywhere from six to 16 families. Each family shares general characteristics, like where they can survive, how they look, and what they eat. In each family are many different species. Some look like dinosaurs, while others are small enough to perch on the tip of a finger.

Many people recognize the chameleons' human-like hands as they grasp branches. They are equipped with an opposable thumb and fingers to let them crawl through trees in Asia, the Mediterranean, and sub-Saharan Africa. Their prehensile tails curl and wrap around stems to help with climbing, similar to a monkey's tail. Like frogs, their sticky tongues dart out to catch flying insects. Each eye, enclosed in a convex socket, can move independently, which helps it watch for flies. Chameleons can change the shade of their scales based on emotions related to fear or reproductive urges.

Skinks are a lesser-known type of lizard. They are often mistaken for a kind of snake because they have tiny, smooth scales on a long, cylindrical body. Also like snakes, they exhibit intricate, beautiful, colorful patterns. Skinks enjoy semi-arid environments like meadows or sandy hills where they dig burrows for protection. Another useful trait is their tail's ability to break off when grabbed by a predator, allowing them to quickly slink away.

Iguanas are popular because they make friendly pets. In the wild, some species can grow quite large while they roam through arid and temperate climates. They're entirely vegetarian, snacking on leaves and sweet fruits. Their main defense is their sharply spiked tail that they can whip around when feeling threatened. Green varieties stay up in trees while brown iguanas stick to the ground, digging burrows.

A few specific species of lizards are worth mentioning. Gila monsters live predominantly in the Southwestern United States where they burrow under the hot desert ground. The unique banded design of their scales is often colored red and black. Bright colors warn other animals that they are venomous. Indeed, although they scavenge bird and reptile eggs, they deliver a poisonous bite as a defensive measure.

Geckos are diminutive, tropical lizards with bright green bodies and often orange or yellow feet. Their toes, like suction cups, allow them to shimmy up vertical surfaces in their search for insects. Sometimes, people see them climbing glass windows with ease. Their oversized eyes let in more light for nocturnal hunting.

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Discussion Comments
By anon974928 — On Oct 22, 2014

My brother and I saw a lizard. It was really colorful. It was about 2 inches long and 3' wide. It was pure black with blue, pink, purple and orange.

Does anybody know what type of lizard this was? --Margaret

By anon335318 — On May 19, 2013

@ Post no. 35: Broad-headed skink, I believe. Male.

By anon221892 — On Oct 13, 2011

i was just wondering if chameleons really do need a lot of care. I wanted to get one, but i've never owned a lizard before. What would you recommend?

By anon212394 — On Sep 07, 2011

I caught a lizard on a glue trap. It's whole body was caught on the trap.It had no color, it was opaque when I found it. I went to work and came back and it had disappeared. It was as though something had just lifted it off of the glue trap. The glue trap had not been moved, it was inside my utility room and no other tracks on it anywhere.

Does anyone have a clue as to what kind of lizard it was and happened to it? I live in Arkansas and am not a mental patient.

By anon208054 — On Aug 21, 2011

what is a 5-6 inch lizard? and what is its name?

By anon205781 — On Aug 13, 2011

I caught this lizard around my swimming pool and it looks like a mini bearded lizard (note I live in East Tennessee) but not quite like it. It has small spiky scales and a long tail with brown/tan-ish gray, white and black strips all along its body. It has about five toes on the end of each limb and the third toe on the hind legs is longer and curved.

It walks with its left front foot and its right hind foot and then its right front foot with its left hind food. It has small eyes as well. I would like to know what it is, what it eats, what kind of habitat I need for it, and if you need a picture of the lizard, I got one.

By anon189939 — On Jun 24, 2011

To post 76: if it is eating your lettuce and watermelon vines, my guess would be an iguana. can't say for sure without a picture, though.

By anon176010 — On May 14, 2011

in my pond, i have some lizard type creatures. i don't like them. what are they? should i take them out?

By anon171237 — On Apr 29, 2011

Help. I have some type of lizard in my yard. It's pretty big. Really fat and about two to three times larger than the normal size lizards in my yard. I usually see him chasing the other lizards.

The problem I am having is he is eating my garden. He doesn't nibble. He'll eat a good size head of lettuce overnight. He's eaten up two small watermelon plants, a small cantaloupe plant and a bunch of lettuce plants. I've tried many types of insect and snail killer, thinking they were the culprits. But now I realize it can only be him. He's getting fatter and fatter every time I see him. What can I do to deter him from my garden?

By anon144474 — On Jan 19, 2011

#47: Try looking up lizards that are native to your area. Then you can compare pictures of those to the one you saw in you home. Also, if you do not know where the lizard is, it may be very hard to locate him. --B

(p.s. I have posted #'s 64 to 74 and know a quite a bit about pet lizards because of family and myself.)

By anon144139 — On Jan 18, 2011

For everyone who says they have something like a bearded dragon: They can be yellow and have splashes of blue! Look it up. -B

By anon144138 — On Jan 18, 2011

Dear Elliotte, #2, I have a panther gecko. He is not a vegetarian per se, but what he eats is not bad. He eats crickets. You can buy a cricket shaker and never have to touch them. And if you need to touch a meal worm or cricket, use tweezers. Then you avoid the bugs all in all. Look panther geckos up. They are very cute, small and easy to care for. Good luck finding the one you want.


By anon144136 — On Jan 18, 2011

5: I have a panther gecko (i have posted all of those from the panther gecko ones to this one) and my gecko also does this. I got him about a month ago and he does this after I hold him. I believe that he likes to be held so when I put him up he wants back out.

By anon144134 — On Jan 18, 2011

@ no. 6: If it's a lizard, it's a reptile.

By anon144133 — On Jan 18, 2011

13: Go on the internet and type in the name of the lizard. Read all you can about it and look at pictures. This should help. Then, if you like it locate it at a pet store.

By anon144130 — On Jan 18, 2011

#38: I was just reading your post. Is there any way it was a bearded dragon? It may have been set loose. They can be a yellowish color. Also if someone set loose a pet golden gecko it could be that.

By anon143792 — On Jan 17, 2011

Dear post number 63. Just because it is a curly tailed gecko doesn't mean its tail will always curl. I would suggest going on the internet and looking up curly tailed lizards. Compare your curly tailed lizard to the pictures on the internet. I know google images probably has a picture of one. Just look it up and see. If it doesn't match anything you find go back to the pet store and ask for an explanation.

By anon143789 — On Jan 17, 2011

Panther Gecko: #4: Handling: Panther geckos are very loving and may like to be handled but there are certain precautions you should take when handling your panther gecko.

Before holding your panther gecko, wash your hands well. This way you don't give it a disease. When picking him up, gently but firmly lift him by his sides and place him in the desired area. When holding him walk your hands just like when holding a hamster (look it up and I'm sure you will find a video showing you how). Be careful because they are very jumpy. Don't make any sudden movements when holding him/her.

When it crawls up your arm and you want it to stop gently put your hand in front of it and let it crawl on your hand and put it where you want it. Never keep two geckos together; they will pull each other's tails. Never pull your gecko's tail. It will come off as a natural instinct and it will never grow back the same.

Be very gentle with your gecko, and handle it about two or three minutes a day when you first get it. Keep working your holding time up until you can hold it for hours.

By anon143785 — On Jan 17, 2011

Panther Gecko: #3: Looks and Background: Panther geckos are about three different shades of brown. Dark, medium, and light shades of brown. If they have a stripe down their back they are worth more. But of course looks do not affect personality. They get between 6 and 8 inches. You can find more about their looks on online. These are called Panther Geckos and be careful not to get them mixed up in pictures with leopard geckos. They are not similar looking at all. Panther geckos are from Madagascar and are very sweet. They do not bite.

By anon143781 — On Jan 17, 2011

Panther Gecko: #2: Feeding your Panther Gecko: Panther geckos are 100 percent insectivores. This means that they only eat insects! Do not try to feed your panther gecko anything besides insects. The two types of insects that are 100 percent safe for them are crickets and meal worms. Never feed them anything bigger than their head. Never!

It's best to feed them something that would fit between the space between their eyes. When they are smaller (about 2" or a little bigger) feed them pinheads. Increase the cricket size as they grow. Meal worms are more for a treat rather than an everyday meal.

My panther gecko is currently about 2" and he eats about two to four crickets a day, depending on if he is hungry or not. Don't freak out if he doesn't eat exactly six like the pet store will tell you, he is so small. Call a reptile vet if you have any concerns about his/her eating.

By anon143777 — On Jan 17, 2011

Panther Geckos: Help #1: I have a panther gecko. They get between 6 and 8 inches and live mainly 15 years. Once you have it, you are committed.

The first thing to do is set up his/her exhibit. A 10 gal. aquarium is all that is needed (but if you would like you can have a bigger one), reptile carpet, moss, driftwood,a shallow water bowl, rocks, and three hides. It is best to buy all of this at a petstore, not get it from your yard.

Also buy a lizard starter kit (I really liked the flukers one). Put the carpet in the bottom of the aquarium. Put a hide in two corners and one near the middle. The middle hide should have the moss in it and one corner hide (your humid side) should have moss on top. The moss is to help them shed, and keep the humidity up. The other corner hide should be on the dry side and be completely dry.

The driftwood should be placed with the top about 6" from the bulbs/domes which will come in your starter kit. But the bulbs must be bought separately.

As far as bulbs, you will need an infrared and a basking bulb -- between 50 and 75 watts works perfectly. The rocks should be placed where the carpet sticks up (if there is a space between the carpet and the bottom of the tank, the bugs will crawl there). This will mostly be around the edges.

The shallow water bowl should be kept full at all times (but make sure the bowl is shallow, about 1/2 an inch to 1 inch at the most). Also have a mist bottle to spray the moss every day twice. This will help the gecko shed.

Oh, and the gecko won't use the driftwood most likely until he is a little bit bigger than mine. Mine is only 2 inches right now.

By anon133393 — On Dec 10, 2010

i have a lizard. the pet shop says its a curly tailed lizard. but its tail never curls up. i was wondering how i can figure out what kind of lizard it was.

By anon129238 — On Nov 22, 2010

I caught a lizard that looked like a bearded dragon and it had blue on its chin and sides of belly in my garage today. It also has a tail that is a bit longer than its body. I live in Upland, California. What type is it? Is it poisonous? What do the blue markings mean?

By anon127250 — On Nov 15, 2010

What type of lizard has a brown head a green back and a turquoise tail?

By anon121098 — On Oct 23, 2010

Hi my name is Susie. I live in las vegas, Nevada. I caught a small, sort of transparent/white lizard with a light blue nose area. Its about three inches long and has tiny bumps on its back.

I was wondering: a. What kind of lizard is it? b. Is it poisonous? c. What/when does it eat?

By anon119352 — On Oct 17, 2010

I was sweeping under my baseboard heating in upstate new york and out comes a tiny lizard. He is a tan/light brownish color, about 1 and 3/4 inches long, most of long tiny tail. He has darker spots running along the upper portion of his sides almost like a stripe. He obviously is not native to New York, but a month ago somebody gave me a dwarf schefflera plant and we think he may have hitched in on it (the plant tag says it's native to southeast asia and southwest pacific islands).

I don't know what he is or what to feed him or take care of him. I figure if I can at least figure out what he is that would help. Can anyone help me figure out what this lizard is???

By anon111716 — On Sep 17, 2010

What kind of lizard has a brownish tan color over its spine and a green belly?

By anon111441 — On Sep 16, 2010

what kind of lizard has a black body with yellow stripes and a blue tail.

By anon109789 — On Sep 09, 2010

what kind of lizard has a black body with yellow stripes?

By anon109666 — On Sep 08, 2010

How can you keep those curly tail lizards out of your house? they are driving me crazy. outside, OK but inside yuck.

By anon109522 — On Sep 08, 2010

I have a question. i caught a lizard in my garage and i want to know what it is. It is about two inches long, all black with yellow spots on the side of its head. I live in the desert of new mexico. Can someone help me out.

By anon104149 — On Aug 15, 2010

To dream dog 1120: If you could tell me the colors of this lizard i might know what kind it is. i own two lizards, one is a vegetarian and one eats meat. If that same lizard comes again maybe put a piece of lettuce or a worm/cricket nearby and see which one it goes for, and look up what eats crickets or worms and/or veggies. If it's a vegetarian, do not give it spinach, onions, or broccoli. It might die if you give it to them. --Ashlyn

By anon96106 — On Jul 14, 2010

i found a brown lizard and i am keeping it? what does it eat? it won't eat a little grasshopper i put in its cage.

By anon87213 — On May 28, 2010

We just found a lizard behind our hose. It was about nine in. long and was really fat. My brother tried to gig it with a frog gig but it ran away. It was silver with a red head. Our only guess is that it got let go by somebody.

By anon85781 — On May 21, 2010

lizards are living in the wall of my double wide and my home is only four years old, how can I kill them? One came inside and my dog chewed it.

By dreamdog1120 — On May 21, 2010

I live in an apartment in Beaumont CA, and i'm just sitting here at the computer. Well, i hear noises coming from the kitchen like leaves or sticks moving around. I get up and see all four cats circling a big freakin' lizard! At first I thought it was a huge worm or snake, but then as I got closer, I realized it was a lizard!

I tried to get as close as I could, and suddenly, the lizard squeezed itself under the metal thing under the front door that keeps rain water and zipped out!

I think it may be still inside. But i want to know what kind it is so i can keep it as a pet! Any ideas?

By anon84673 — On May 17, 2010

I am in Tallahassee, FL and when I came into my home last night, about 8 p.m. and I found a salamander/lizard. He was lying completely still in on the wall of my kitchen at the wall's highest point before joining the ceiling. My walls are tan and this guy was very well camouflaged.

I temporarily caught him using a tupperware and some paper. He was very light colored. But not white. he had bulbous toes like a salamander and could hold on to the cardstock paper upside down. Does anyone have any idea what this was? he escaped my tupperware before I could take a picture.

By anon84281 — On May 14, 2010

Elliott get a bearded dragon or leopard gecko. Bearded Dragons are vegetarian and love you a lot if you take time for it. Leopard Geckos are not vegetarians but they stay smaller, they eat wax worms, meal worms, crickets and sometimes little flies.

By anon82727 — On May 07, 2010

I saw a yellow coloured lizard which had a big head near my school in singapore (it looks a bit like frilled lizard) any idea what lizard it is?

By amypollick — On Apr 07, 2010

To anon75419: First, no it isn't poisonous. The only venomous lizard in the US is the gila monster, and they live in the desert southwest. It's probably a blue skink. I don't like reptiles, but these lizards are completely harmless.

I'll bet what your husband was thinking about was the old rhyme about distinguishing between a striped king snake and a venomous coral snake: "Red on black, pat him on the back. Red on yellow, kill the fellow."

But you don't have to worry about coral snakes in Virginia, either. They are pretty much confined to Florida and the Gulf Coast. Hope this helps.

By anon75419 — On Apr 06, 2010

I understand this comment board is supposed to be about lizards. I am not sure if I am talking about a lizard or a salamander. Please help!

I saw a little lizard/salamander thing scurry out from between the storm door and the regular door when I was coming in from outside.

It's about 80 degrees here right now (in Southeast Virginia) and I think he was trying to find some shade. He is black (very dark black) with bright yellow stripes going longways down his body.

He was about six or so inches long (they move so fast, it was hard to say). My husband was a little worried because he says normally black and yellow mean poison.

I looked online trying to find a picture (thought it was a salamander and now not so sure). It did not look wet or slimy like a salamander and it certainly isn't a three lined salamander because it had more than two or three stripes, and I looked on some sort of salamander identification and they only have one kind listed for my area and its picture didn't match.

So, I started thinking it was a lizard. Any ideas? Please!

By anon74695 — On Apr 03, 2010

i found a long snake-like silver lizard with an orange head. does anyone know what kind of lizard this is?

By anon73642 — On Mar 28, 2010

I found a lizard and I picked it up and put it in a bucket but I didn't know if it was dangerous and it bit me!

By anon73459 — On Mar 27, 2010

I found a lizard in my Koi pond and do not know what kind it is. It is black about 5 or 6 inches long. I've never seen one that black before. When I took it out it did not move like it was dead. Killed it.

I did not want it to go back in my pond. What kind could it be? I live in Kentucky. I saw small ones before never like this one.

By amypollick — On Feb 10, 2010

To No. 30: Sounds like you found a salamander. Probably something like a mud puppy. Those in the U.S. are not dangerous or poisonous. Salamanders look a little like lizards, but are amphibians -- in the same family as frogs and toads.

A lizard, as mentioned in the article, is a reptile. Only one lizard native to the U.S. is venomous: the gila monster. They live in the Southwest, in areas like New Mexico and Arizona.

Don't worry about the larger salamander escaping. They are completely harmless.

By anon64718 — On Feb 09, 2010

I found a lizard-like thing underneath a wet backpack. It was brown and shiny with big pop out black eyes. This one was fully formed/grown, but then I found more, but these were still worm like, with only the four little legs and a small round head.

I had the big and little ones in a container with little breathing holes but the big one escaped, (I have no idea how) and was unable to find her. I am a little worried because I have no idea what they are, how they formed and if they are poisonous.

Again, it was about three inches long, brown and had big black popping eyes. I am oddly fascinated as well as a little disgusted by it.

By anon61342 — On Jan 19, 2010

I was trying to figure out the name of the lizard

that is mentioned in comment no. 7 by "Lizard". I've seen them in Ft. Lauderdale, and a long-time resident there told me they blew in from Cuba during a storm, and that they're poisonous and can make you sick. They're an evil looking reptile, too. It's their eyes. Weird.

By anon60190 — On Jan 12, 2010

I live in Southeast FL. It's extremely cold at night - one night it went down to 34 degrees (F). Knowing that iguanas shouldn't be exposed to such temperatures and being well aware of the huge population of wild iguanas around here, I've picked up four lizards that were turning black, were so sluggish they seemed to be dead at first, and obviously in need of help. I thought they were iguanas, but now I'm not so sure.

They're all bright green with a yellow streak on their side. The biggest one (about a foot long) has black rimmed (beautiful) eyes. Their faces are different from the iguanas' in that they are wider and their heads are proportionately larger, too. They don't seem to be eating the collard greens I gave them.

The only reason I think they're better off now is that they aren't turning black anymore but otherwise, they seem miserable. It's still cold - 40's and 50's. Does anyone know what they are (water dragons?) and, more importantly, what I should do with them?

I just want to help them.

By anon60186 — On Jan 12, 2010

Responding to question No. 23 - the Bradenton, FL, snake-looking lizard? Sounds like a skink to me, but I'm no expert. Was it's skin like a snake's, too? As far as I know they are harmless. I used to see them in Sarasota.

By anon59675 — On Jan 09, 2010

what species of lizard lives under ground?

By anon56474 — On Dec 15, 2009

will people die if they eat a lizard? How harmful is a normal lizard?

By anon48386 — On Oct 12, 2009

anon48371: I don't know exactly what kind of lizard it was, but it wasn't poisonous. The only venomous lizard in the U.S. is the gila monster and they live in areas like Arizona and New Mexico. Even then, bites from those lizards are rare. There may be a few Mexican beaded lizards across the border, and those animals are venomous, but again, they live in the Southwest.

By anon48371 — On Oct 12, 2009

Saw a lizard in my backyard with a blue tail, body was dark with yellowish type of streaks and a face shaped more like a snake. I live in Bradenton, Florida. what type of lizard could this be and is it poisonous?

By anon42544 — On Aug 21, 2009

Found a very small lizard (about 2") out near our barn. We live on a ridge, in a very wooded area, in southern Indiana. I have a pretty good close-up pic of this lizard - where can I email it for an identification? Thanks Tammie

By anon41536 — On Aug 15, 2009

we have a gray/black mottled color (the pattern reminds me of a snake) lizard. her toes are like the iguana or dragons in their long appearance. She eats a lot of crickets. is very friendly. she wags her tail when you pet her. Her appearance is something like a horny toad lizard but without the horns. could you help identify her?

By anon39142 — On Jul 30, 2009

17- Adult Five-lined Blue-tailed skink

18- possible Tegu

10- adolesent Five-lined Blue-tailed skink

2- Iguanas aren't vegetarians. They eat insects and veggies. A strict herbivore that I would highly suggest is a mali uromastyx. research on the lizard first.

9- I highly doubt they will do anything to other lizards. They're incredibly skiddish.

11- is there any blue on it's belly? If so, it's probably a fence lizard.

By anon36765 — On Jul 14, 2009

OK i caught a lizard while my husband was grilling outside. we live in the desert. and the lizard belly is pink as is most of its body but it has brown spots and brown strips and above its eyelids are green. i know that it likes moths and dragonflies and anything else that flies and gets its attention. i would say its about 1/2 an in. wide and about 6 in. long. what kind of lizard do i have? -Jarrin

By anon32013 — On May 14, 2009

what is my lizard that has red, black and white?

By anon30888 — On Apr 26, 2009

i saw a big 6-inch lizard on my pool deck. it had a red face and looked like a salamander. do you know what it might be?

By KelBel20 — On Jun 04, 2008

I got my lizard about a year ago, and he eats the standard lizard diet of crickets, mealworms etc...idk what type of lizard he is though. He's yellowish on his belly, green on top with yellow and black spots on him. the spikes on the back of his neck from bottom to top are green, brown and yellow. I've been calling him a chinese water dragon but idk for sure. Please help!

By anon10930 — On Apr 05, 2008

What does a Chinese barking lizard look like? Are they OK for pets?

By anon7573 — On Jan 29, 2008

How many lizards are carnivores?

By anon4281 — On Oct 10, 2007

I just got a lizard recently and the kind it is eludes me. It's a blackish-grey with a silver belly. It has no markings, but as of right now it's about 4 inches long, of which 2 1/2 of it is his tail. Help me figure out what he is, please!

By anon4114 — On Oct 03, 2007

Any information about a skink that is mostly black with stripes down its body and having a grayish- blue tail?

By anon3561 — On Sep 05, 2007

I have noticed an influx of Basilicus (Jesus Lizards) in my yard. Since they aren't native of Florida, are they going to hurt the native lizards that are here in Florida?

By lizards — On Jun 16, 2007

I live in Boca Raton Fla, we have lots of little lizards that eat the bugs, that's good!

Lately we don't very many little lizards,

What we do see is a lizard about 12 inches

Dark green w/ a white stripe and a triangular head.

I've been trying to id this preditor and find out more about it

By anon1713 — On Jun 12, 2007

I am trying to learn about breeding spring lizards and just what family they are in, is it reptile or amphibian?

By anon1355 — On May 27, 2007

Hello, I got this lizard just yesterday, and it keeps scratching the window of the cage, and i don't know what it is trying to do. And i also want to know what type of lizard he is. The belly of the lizard is yellow, and the back is green with yellow stripes going down its back. And the tail is green with yellow stripes too.

Can you please tell me why my lizard does that and what type it is?

By anon568 — On Apr 28, 2007

That lizard that your cat attacked is a blue-bellied lizard.

By anon422 — On Apr 24, 2007

HI, my cat attacked this lizard a few minutes ago. The lizard is still alive, but is very hurt and I can't seem to make it drink any water. I don't want to send it outside yet, because part of it's back leg bone is exposed. I would like to know what to do to help it. I don't want to kill it because I know that it can make it if I give it the chance!

I would also like to know what kind of lizard he is. He is brown on the top, yellow on the bottom except for blue on his chin and on the undersides of his abdomen.

Could you please answer this ASAP? It is important.

Thank you.

By anon301 — On Apr 21, 2007

Hi, I am 12 and i would really like to get a Gecko or a small lizard, I've done my research, but i can not find any vegetarian lizards or Geckos. I know that Iguana's are vegerarians but they are simply too big.

Please get back to me if you have any answers,


By teddyknitter — On Feb 22, 2007

It is not quite accurate to describe the chameleon's foot as having "an opposable thumb"--this is a feature particular to primates. Their zygodactyly would better be described as "thumb-like". Chameleons' feet are a lot like many birds'--for the same purpose, too--in this way.

Since this is about many kinds of lizards, I'd like to see a reminder of which common animal families are NOT lizards: salamanders, for example.

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