Florida is a great place to see a wide variety of wildlife. While alligators and crocodiles tend to attract all of the attention, a wide array of brilliant green lizards often roam around unnoticed. From geckos to anoles to iguanas, there are many different types of green lizards lizards in Florida.
Let’s have a look at 9 of them!
9 types of green lizards in Florida
9 species of green lizards in Florida are the North American green anole, Cuban anole, Hispaniolan green anole, knight anole, Jamaican giant anole, green ameiva, green iguana, eastern glass lizard, and Madagascar giant day gecko.
Keep reading to find out more about the species of green lizards you might find in Florida and some fun facts about them.
1. North American Green Anole
Scientific Name: Anolis carolinensis
North American green anoles average about 5 to 8 inches in length. They can be identified from other anoles by the green or brown light markings on their backs. They have been likened to chameleons due to their ability to match the color of their skin to their environment.
Male green anoles have a pink throat fan that they will display when threatened. They are extremely territorial and have even been known to attack themselves when shown their own reflection.
2. Cuban Green Anole
Scientific Name: Anolis porcatus
Cuban green anoles are interesting because they are so similar to the North American anole that it has been argued they are the same exact species. In fact, some say that the North American green anole is derived from the Cuban green anole.
The only noticeable difference between the two species is that Cuban green anoles are larger than the North American green anole. The two species are able to interbreed when given a chance. Since their introduction from Cuba to Florida, not even geographical location separates the species.
3. Hispaniolan Green Anole
Scientific Name: Anolis chlorocyanus
The Hispaniolan green anole is almost identical to the green anole save for a few key differences. The first and most obvious is that they are from the island of Hispaniola.
If you don’t know the anole’s country of origin, you can also recognize a Hispaniolan green anole by its blue throat flap as opposed to the North American Green Anole’s red flap. Males are often bright green, while females may have darker green strips down their sides.
4. Knight Anole
Scientific Name: Anolis equestris
Knight anoles are the largest anoles found in Florida and are often confused with iguanas. They can grow anywhere from 13 to 19 inches in length. If their size doesn’t give them away, they are easily recognized by their bright, green skin with a yellow stripe under their eyes that runs over their shoulder. They also have large, bony heads a pink throat fap.
Knight anoles are native to Cuba but have now become a common sight in South Florida. They are a little unusual in the fact that both females and males have a dewlap (or throat flap). This makes the genders almost indistinguishable on the exterior.
5. Jamaican Giant Anole
Scientific Name: Anolis garmani
Despite its name, the Jamaican giant anole is actually smaller than the knight anole. Adults grow anywhere from 6 to 10 inches with the males being much larger than the females. They have a green outer skin, but can actually turn brown during the evening hours.
Their dewlap is yellow, making them distinguishable from the other anoles on our list. They primarily eat fruits and invertebrates but have been known to eat other smaller anoles from time to time.
6. Green Ameiva
Scientific Name: Ameiva ameiva
The green ameiva, also known as the giant ameiva, are an unusual addition to our list. They are not fully green in color, but rather have patches of vivid green on their head or pelvic area. The rest of their body is brown, except for their belly which is a turquoise color. Both males and females will have random black specs all over their bodies.
Green ameivas can grow anywhere from 14 to 24 inches with the males typically being much larger. The species is originally from Central and South America, but have made their way to Florida via the pet trade.
7. Green Iguana
Scientific Name: Iguana iguana
The green iguana is mostly green with some brown coloring mixed in. While they are a mere 10 inches at birth, they can grow as large as 7 feet! These South American natives can live up to 20 years of age. They have a long row of spikes spanning along their back down to their tail.
Green iguanas are great swimmers and love to swim in fresh or saltwater. They are even able to submerge themselves underwater for up to four hours. However, they prefer to stay on land and spend most of their time lounging in the sun. They are cold-blooded creatures, which means they rely on the Florida sun to keep them warm.
Green iguanas are invasive to the state of Florida and have been causing problems for Floridians for many years.
8. Eastern Glass Lizard
Scientific Name: Ophisaurus ventralis
It is extremely easy to mistake the eastern glass lizard with a snake, as it is a lizard without legs. It is considered a lizard because it has moveable eyelids, external ear openings, and inflexible jaws. While they are not always green, most eastern glass lizards have a yellowish-green coloration.
Eastern glass lizards have stripes on their backs but remain a solid color beneath their lateral groove. If the eastern glass lizard is restrained it will thrash and break off its tail. This is where the name glass lizard comes from due to its propensity to “shatter” its tail.
9. Madagascar Giant Day Gecko
Scientific Name: Phelsuma grandis
The Madagascar giant day gecko is bright, almost fluorescent, green with red spots on its back. They also have a deep red line running from its eyes to the tip of its snout. Their eyes have a bright blue ring surrounding their large dark pupils.
You may recognize the Madagascar giant day gecko as it is the model on which the insurance company Geico created their gecko mascot. These geckos are able to communicate using squeaks, clicks, barks, and croaks.