12 Types of Lizards in Oklahoma

Lizards are perhaps the most diverse and fascinating reptiles. They come in various shapes and sizes, and Oklahoma’s lizard population proves it. From the minute little brown skink to the atypical horned and slender glass lizards, Oklahoma’s twelve endemic species will not surprise you.

Whether you’re a seasoned herpetologist or just curious about Oklahoma’s reptile wildlife, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’re taking a closer look at the state’s unique fauna and its characteristics. So, buckle up, and get ready to learn all the facts about Oklahoma’s lizards!

List of Lizard Species in Oklahoma

Lizard Name Conservation Status Lifespan Habitat Appearance
Broad-Headed Skinks Least Concern 5-8 years Woodlands, forests, near streams and rivers Large and sturdy body, broad head, shiny scales
Eastern Collared Lizard Least Concern 8-15 years Rocky outcrops, prairies, open woodlands Gray to brown body with black spots, orange-red collar around the neck, long hind legs, sharp claws
Five-Lined Skinks Least Concern 5-7 years Woodlands, fields, suburban areas Smooth, shiny scales, dark body with five light stripes along the back, bright blue tail in juveniles
Great Plains Skink Least Concern 4-7 years Prairies, grasslands, rocky hillsides Dark, smooth scales, slender body, short legs, reddish-brown stripes running along the back and sides
Little Brown Skink Least Concern Up to 5 years Forested areas, rocky outcrops, grassy fields Small and slender body, brownish-grey color, smooth scales, bright blue tail in juveniles
Lesser Earless Lizards Least Concern 2-3 years Grasslands, rocky outcrops, sandy areas Small, slender body, light brown or gray color, no external ears, long tail
Northern Green Anole Least Concern Up to 5 years Forests, woodlands, suburban areas, human dwellings Bright green body, long tail, dewlap under the chin used for communication, adhesive pads on feet
Prairie Lizards Least Concern Up to 5 years Prairies, open fields, rocky outcrops Sturdy, dark-colored body, short legs, long tail, light-colored stripes along the sides and back
Six-Lined Racerunner Least Concern 2-6 years Woodlands, grasslands, rocky outcrops, floodplains Dark green to brown body, six thin yellow stripes running along the back, blue-green belly in males
Southern Coal Skinks Least Concern Unknown Wooded hillsides, wooded areas around springs Small, stout body, cylindrical shape, four dark bands along the body with thin pale margins
Texas Horned Lizard Least Concern 5-7 years Prairies, deserts, and playas Wide, round body, short tapered tail, thorny appearance, yellow to brown body color, can squirt blood
Western Slender Glass Lizard Least Concern Up to 9 years Fields, prairies, open woodlands, pine forests, near bodies of water Long and slender body, tan to brown with six dark vertical stripes

Broad-Headed Skinks

  • Other common names: Broadhead skink
  • Scientific name: Plestiodon laticeps
  • Family: Scincidae
  • Origin: Southeastern U.S.
  • Habitat: Open forests, especially around oak trees
  • Size: 5.9-13 inches
  • Lifespan: Approximately 4 years
  • Conservation status: Least concern

The broad-headed skink is among the largest species in its genus (Plestiodon), reaching a total snout-to-tail length of up to 13 inches! Besides its size, this lizard also stands out thanks to its broad, triangular head and wide jaws. Can you guess how it got its name?

Broad-headed skinks have robust-looking bodies and are typically brown or greenish-brown with a pale underside. Females have five pale stripes spreading from head to tail.

Because of this, the broad-headed skink is often compared to southeastern five-lined skinks. Male broad-headed skinks display bright reddish or orange heads during the mating season, but the colors are faded throughout the rest of the year.

This reptile spans over a wide area throughout the southeastern U.S. The largest populations are seen in coastal states, but specimens can also be spotted in Western Oklahoma. While broad-headed skinks have a secure status in most U.S. states, they’re considered vulnerable in Oklahoma.

This lizard is semi-arboreal and prefers living in forests. They seem especially fond of hollowed trunks for hiding and nesting. Like most other species in its family, these skinks are insectivores. They prey on hidden insects they find under debris or buried in the soil.

This species is nonvenomous and not particularly aggressive towards humans. When threatened, broad-headed skinks are more likely to drop their tail and flee. You’re unlikely to see these lizards around in your local forest. Broad-headed skinks are vulnerable to various predators, so they spend most time hiding.

Eastern Collared Lizard

  • Other common names: Mountain boomer, yellow-headed collared lizard, common collared lizard, Oklahoma collared lizard
  • Scientific name: Crotaphytus collaris
  • Family: Crotaphytidae
  • Origin: Mexico and South-central U.S.
  • Habitat: Grasslands, rocky deserts, mountainous regions
  • Size: 8-15 inches
  • Lifespan: 5-8 years
  • Conservation status: Least concern

The eastern collared lizard, also known as the Oklahoma collared lizard, is the official state reptile of, you guessed it, Oklahoma. Besides Oklahoma, sizable populations also exist in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, and Texas.

This lizard is medium-sized and has an average build and tail length. However, it doesn’t fail to impress, thanks to its dashing colors. Males in this species have bright blue-green bodies with yellow saddle bands and pale dots on their backs. Males also have bright orange throats and limbs.

Females are less colorful with brown bodies and pale dots on the dorsal side. Both males and females display black horizontal bands on the back of their necks, which is where the nickname “collared lizard” originated.

Unlike other similar species, collared lizards have longer limbs. This gives them an advantage when escaping predators. Fun fact— collared lizards display bipedal locomotion, which means they can run on just their hind legs. This, combined with the long limbs, results in a top speed of up to 16 miles per hour!

Eastern collared lizards are diurnal, terrestrial, and omnivorous. They prefer rocky environments where they can bask in the sun. Their diet consists of various insects and small invertebrates, including spiders, cicadas, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, and even small lizards and snakes. Despite their colorful appearance, collared lizards spend a lot of time hiding among rocky outcrops.

These lizards are attentive and feisty, both in the wild and in captivity. Males are known to be very territorial and aggressive towards one another. Around humans, they’re most likely to flee, but they might sometimes bite in self-defense if approached.

Five-Lined Skinks

five lined skink

  • Other common names: Blue-tailed skink, red-headed skink, eastern red-headed skink
  • Scientific name: Plestiodon fasciatus
  • Family: Scincidae
  • Origin: Eastern U.S. and Southern Canada
  • Habitat: Hardwood areas around rivers and streams, rocky areas
  • Size: 4.9-8.5 inches
  • Lifespan: 6 years
  • Conservation status: Least concern

Five-lined skinks are small reptiles with narrow heads, short snouts, and long tapered tails. The body colors vary depending on the lizard’s age and sex. Juvenile and female skinks are dark brown or black with bright blue tails.

They also have five white or bright yellow bands traveling vertically from head to tail. Adult male skinks are usually light brown with pale or absent vertical bands. Males also have red-orange heads, but the color intensity ranges from muted to bright.

Five-lined skinks are omnivorous. In the wild, their diet consists mainly of small invertebrates like spiders, beetles, crickets, and other insects. They might eat small lizards, mice, frogs, and small fruits like berries, when these foods are available. In captivity, they accept a variety of insects and low-oxalate fruits and vegetables.

These skinks fascinate scientists with their unique social and breeding behaviors. Males are competitive and aggressive towards one another but will tolerate juveniles and females in their territory. Female five-lined skinks show maternal and brooding behavior, which is quite rare among reptiles.

These skinks are commonly kept as pets thanks to their non-threatening behavior. They’re nonvenomous and non-aggressive towards humans. When threatened, five-lined skinks typically drop their tail and flee. They might bite you if you pick them up, but they don’t have strong claws or teeth, so they won’t injure you.

Great Plains Skinks

Great plains skink

  • Other common names: Sonoran skink
  • Scientific name: Plestiodon obsoletus
  • Family: Scincidae
  • Origin: North American continent, especially on the Great Plains
  • Habitat: Prairie regions, rocky mountain areas, sandhills, floodplains
  • Size: Up to 13.4 inches
  • Lifespan: 3-7 years
  • Conservation status: Least concern

The great plains skink is among the largest skinks in its genus and its size is rivaled only by the broad-headed skink. This species can reach a total size of 13.4 inches from snout to tail and up to 5 inches from snout to vent. However, unlike its counterpart, the great plains skink has a narrow head and a small snout.

Great plains skinks have plump and strong-looking bodies with long, stout, and tapering tails. Juveniles are dark brown to black, with striking blue tails. Some display orange or white spots on their heads. As the lizards grow, the colors fade into earthy tones.

The body color in adults ranges from light grey to pale yellow or beige. The belly is yellow, and the dorsal scales are smooth and delineated by uniform dark borders. Some specimens have faint vertical stripes along the back or sides.

This lizard species is common on the Great Plains, especially in New Mexico, Texas, and Kansas, where it is considered a secure species. Since it’s a terrestrial species, the great plains skink prefers areas with loose soils for burrowing. This is also where they find their main source of food, which includes insects like beetles, spiders, and other terrestrial insects.

Despite being a diurnal species, this skink is not easy to spot in the wild. These lizards spend most of their time hidden under logs and among rocks or debris. Their large body size translates into more bite force than the average lizard. However, great plains skinks aren’t particularly aggressive. When threatened, their first response is to flee.

Little Brown Skink

  • Other common names: Ground skink
  • Scientific name: Scincella lateralis
  • Family: Scincidae
  • Origin: Eastern U.S. and Northern Mexico
  • Habitat: Forests, hedgerows, areas nearing ponds or streams
  • Size: 3-5.5 inches
  • Lifespan: 2-3 years
  • Conservation status: Least concern

The little brown skink is present throughout Southeastern U.S., including territories like Oklahoma, New Jersey, Ohio, Kansas, Texas, and Florida. It’s one of the most abundant skink species in the U.S., and its population seems to be expanding. Recent sightings have occurred in southern New York state.

As its name suggests, this lizard is…well, little. Adult specimens measure no more than 5.5 inches from snout to tail, and 1.4-1.95 inches from snout to vent. The average body weight is just 2 grams. Apart from the minute size, these skinks look how you’d expect. They have an average build, with stout cylindrical bodies, small, narrow heads, and short limbs.

The body color is reddish brown on the back, while the belly is pale. They have well-delineated lateral stripes, which are either dark brown or black. Their scales are small and smooth. These lizards also have movable eyelids that are partly transparent, allowing them to see with their eyes closed.

In the wild, the little brown skink spends most of its time buried out of sight. It prefers staying hidden and searching for food among leaf litter, which is why it’s often seen in deciduous forests. Its diet consists mainly of insects, especially isopods, arthropods, and other ground-dwelling invertebrates.

These lizards are harmless to humans. They’re weary of predators and will drop their tails to flee if they sense a threat. However, despite their appearance, they can be very feisty with each other. Males are very territorial and aggressive towards one another; biting is very common. They have a short lifespan, and they enter brumation during the colder months.

Lesser Earless Lizards

  • Other common names: Bunker’s Earless Lizard, Eastern Earless Lizard, Bleached Earless Lizard, Huachuca Mountain Earless Lizard, etc.
  • Scientific name: Holbrookia maculata
  • Family: Phrynosomatidae
  • Origin: Southwestern and Central U.S., Northern Mexico
  • Habitat: Shrublands, grasslands, desert
  • Size: 4-5 inches
  • Lifespan: Around 5 years
  • Conservation status: Least concern

These lizards go by many names. This is in large part due to their wide distribution and diversity. There are eight recognized subspecies of Holbrookia maculate, all collectively called “lesser earless lizards”:

  • Holbrookia maculata maculata (Northern Earless Lizard)
  • Holbrookia maculata bunkeri (Bunker’s Earless Lizard)
  • Holbrookia maculata dickersonae (Dickerson’s earless lizard)
  • Holbrookia maculata perspicua (Eastern Earless Lizard)
  • Holbrookia maculata pulchra (Huachuca Mountain Earless Lizard)
  • Holbrookia maculata ruthveni (Bleached Earless Lizard)
  • Holbrookia maculata flavilenta
  • Holbrookia maculata campi

These subspecies are distributed across multiple territories, being present in Oklahoma, Arizona, Wyoming, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, and Texas. The most common subspecies in Oklahoma are the Northern and Eastern earless lizards.

While there is minimal variation between the subspecies, these lizards share most of the same characteristics. Lesser earless lizards are small, measuring up to 5 inches from snout to tail. They have plump bodies, thin tails, elongated limbs, and long toes. Their defining characteristic is a lack of external ear openings.

They still have an inner ear and are capable of hearing. But the sealed opening prevents soil from getting into the lizard’s ears while burrowing. Their body color ranges from gray to tan to reddish brown and typically presents irregular dark and pale splotches.

Like all other earless lizard species, H. maculata is diurnal, insectivorous, and exhibits fossorial behavior (burrowing). They’re discreet little lizards that spend most of their time hidden or searching for prey.

Their diet consists of small bugs and spiders. People are most likely to spot these lizards when they’re out basking on rocks. However, earless lizards are easily startled and will flee when approached.

Northern Green Anole

green anole lizard

  • Other common names: American green anole, American chameleon, Carolina green anole
  • Scientific name: Anolis carolinensis
  • Family: Dactyloidae
  • Origin: Southeastern U.S.
  • Habitat: Forests, plains, shrublands, grasslands, urban and suburban areas
  • Size: 5-8 inches
  • Lifespan: Up to 5 years
  • Conservation status: Least concern

The northern green anole is among the most widespread domestic reptiles in the U.S., both in the wild, as well as in the pet trade. It can naturally be found throughout the Southeastern states, including the S.E. of Oklahoma.

Green anoles exhibit a unique trait— the ability to change color based on environmental factors. These anoles carry a combination of pigment cells in their skin, and their body color varies from brown to grey to green or a combination of all three.

They usually become darker when exposed to lower temperatures, and flash their green color in warm and humid conditions. People often call these anoles “American chameleons” due to their color-changing ability. However, this reptile is more closely related to iguanas and is not a true chameleon.

Other distinguishing characteristics include the elongated snout and limbs and the large tail, which makes up more than half of their total body size. The toes are wide and have underpads, which allow the lizard to climb various surfaces.

The body is usually a block ground color in adult male specimens. Females and juveniles have an irregular white stripe running vertically from head to tail. Males have a bright pink or deep orange dewlap, a skinfold under the jaw which the males display as a mating signal.

These lizards are diurnal, arboreal, and primarily insectivorous. They consume a variety of bugs and sometimes grains and seeds. They prefer living in trees and tall shrubs but can also be spotted around houses, searching for food. They’re known for their jumpy and feisty demeanor, both in the wild and as pets.

Unfortunately, the green anole doesn’t like being handled, and they can also bite you. On the flip side, green anoles lack the bite force to pierce the skin or cause significant pain.

Prairie Lizards

eastern fence lizards

  • Other common names: Eastern fence lizard, Gray lizard, fence swift, pine lizard
  • Scientific name: Sceloporus undulatus
  • Family: Phrynosomatidae
  • Origin: Eastern U.S.
  • Habitat: Open woodlands, grasslands, shrublands, edges of pine and hardwood forests
  • Size: 3.5-7.5 inches
  • Lifespan: Up to 4 years
  • Conservation status: Least concern

Prairie lizards are a bit of a contentious subject right now. In the past, there have been 10 recognized subspecies of Sceloporus undulatus, which have later been narrowed down and reclassified as four different species. It’s currently up to debate whether Sceloporus undulatus can still be classified into two different subspecies.

Given the troublesome classification, it’s hard to define an exact territory range for this lizard. But it’s generally agreed these reptiles occur from Nebraska in the north, to Texas in the south, and from Arizona in the west, all the way to the East Coast.

These lizards are easily identifiable thanks to their overlapping, keeled scales, which give their skin a rough appearance. Their bodies are stout and muscular, with long, thin tails, curved toes, and short snouts.

The body color ranges from brown to gray on the dorsal side. Females typically have several dark, wavy lines spreading horizontally across the back. Males have bright blue splotches on the sides of their bellies and throats, especially during summer and the breeding season.

These lizards aren’t common in urban areas. They’re mostly reserved for wild forests and shrublands, where they hide among rock piles and rotting wood logs. Their diet is primarily insectivorous, and they’re specialized ant predators. Scientists show interest in this species because of its unique environmental adaptations to cold environments and to natural fire ant predators.

Northern fence lizards have adapted to the colder climate by producing fewer, but larger eggs with shorter incubation times. When attacked by fire ants, these lizards twitch their bodies rapidly to throw the ants off. It’s also believed that consuming fire ants over multiple generations has helped these lizards develop a tolerance for the ant’s venom.

Six-Lined Racerunner

six lined racerunners

  • Other common names: Eastern Six-lined Racerunner
  • Scientific name: Aspidoscelis sexlineatus
  • Family: Teiidae
  • Origin: Southeastern and South-Central U.S., Northern Mexico
  • Habitat: Woodlands, grasslands, rocky outcrops, floodplains
  • Size: 6-10.5 inches
  • Lifespan: 2-6 years
  • Conservation status: Least concern

There are three recognized subspecies of six-lined racerunners. The Eastern six-lined racerunner (Aspidoscelis sexlineatus sexlineatus) is among the first documented ones and is naturally present in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas.

Another sub-species present in Oklahoma and Texas is the Prairie racerunner (Aspidoscelis sexlineatus viridis). The Texas yellow-headed racerunner (Aspidoscelis sexlineatus stephensae) is less common and only present in Southern Texas.

The subspecies look widely similar. Overall, six-lined racerunners are distinguishable thanks to the six thin, bright yellow vertical stripes on their back. These lines go from head to tail and might fade out toward the end. The ground body color ranges from dark green to brown to black. Females have white bellies, while males have a blue-green underside.

Six-lined racerunners are average in size and build. They have thin bodies, narrow tails, and short snouts. The tail makes up nearly twice of the lizard’s total body length. The average snout-to-vent size varies between 3-5 inches.

These lizards prefer natural settings with dry and loamy soils. However, they have occasionally been spotted along railroads and highways. Six-lined racerunners are diurnal and insectivorous. They come out during the sunniest hours to warm up and hunt for insects. Their preferred prey includes spiders and grasshoppers.

They’re energetic but also timid around humans and larger animals, which they perceive as predators. When threatened, the six-lined racerunner can dart for cover with speeds of up to 18 mph! Aggression is common among racerunner males, which will chase and bite one another to assert dominance.

Southern Coal Skinks

Southern Coal Skink (Plestiodon anthracinus pluvialis

  • Other common names: Coal skinks
  • Scientific name: Plestiodon anthracinus pluvialis
  • Family: Scincidae
  • Origin: North American continent
  • Habitat: Wooded hillsides, wooded areas around springs
  • Size: 5-7 inches
  • Lifespan: Unknown
  • Conservation status: Least concern

The southern coal skink is a sub-species of the coal skink (Plestiodon anthracinus). It occurs in the eastern half of Oklahoma, eastern Texas, western Mississippi, and northern Louisiana. The other closely-related subspecies, the Northern coal skink (Plestiodon anthracinus anthracinus) occurs in New York, Pennsylvania, and in the Appalachian Mountains.

Both subspecies look nearly the same. They measure up to 7 inches in total and 2.8 inches from snout to vent. They have small heads and stout cylindrical bodies. The limbs are average size, and their thin tail stands out, making up over half of their body length. They have four vertical bands extending from head to tail.

There’s a broad dark band traveling along the lateral sides of the body. The dark band is delineated by thin, pale margins. Males exhibit a bright reddish coloration on the sides of the head during the breeding season. The southern coal skink has pale scales under the eyes along the upper jaw. This makes the sub-species look like it has a spotted lower face.

Coal skinks are terrestrial, insectivore lizards. They prefer humid areas with either plenty of foliage or rocks, where they can hide and hunt for prey. Their diet consists of worms, beetles, spiders, and other terrestrial invertebrates.

Not much is known about this species due to its elusive nature. However, researchers have observed unique defense strategies. When startled, coal skinks flee underwater, where they hide under loose rock formations.

Texas Horned Lizard

  • Other common names: Horned toad, horned frog
  • Scientific name: Phrynosoma cornutum
  • Family: Phrynosomatidae
  • Origin: South-Central U.S.
  • Habitat: Prairies, deserts, and playas
  • Size: 3-5 inches
  • Lifespan: 5-7 years
  • Conservation status: Least concern

The Texas horned lizard is the official state reptile of Texas, but this lizard is endemic to multiple U.S. territories, including Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Arizona, and New Mexico. Although this species is currently classified as “Least concern” by the IUCN, American biologists draw attention to the rapidly dwindling numbers in wild populations.

The lizard has been declared threatened in Texas, and the Tucson Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to do the same. It is believed that the extinction rate of Horned Lizard populations has significantly increased since the past. Causes for the decline include loss of habitat, destruction of local insect populations, and predation by domestic animals.

The Texas horned lizard has an unmistakable appearance. It has a small body size, measuring up to 5 inches at most. Its body is wide and round, and its tail is short and tapered. The unusual body shape had people dubbing it the horned “toad” or “frog.”

Another unique trait of this lizard is its thorny appearance. The reptile has a series of small horns traveling down its back and sides and three pairs of large horns on its head. The body color ranges from yellow to tan to brown.

Texas horned lizards are terrestrial and eat an insectivore diet consisting of ants, termites, grasshoppers, and beetles. They prefer sandy and arid environments where they blend in thanks to their earthy-colored bodies. Despite their declining numbers, these lizards can often be spotted in open, rocky areas and on sunny roadsides.

They’re not very active but spend most of their time soaking in the sun. Despite their thorny and threatening look, these reptiles are mellow and docile. When threatened, these lizards will either flee or burrow in the sand.

Sometimes, they might squirt blood from the corners of their eyes to dissuade predators. This is a chemical attack, as the blood is mixed with a bitter-tasting compound that deters dogs, wolves, and coyotes.

Western Slender Glass Lizard

  • Other common names: Slender glass lizard
  • Scientific name: Ophisaurus attenuatus attenuatus
  • Family: Anguidae
  • Origin: Midwestern and Southeastern U.S.
  • Habitat: Fields, prairies, open woodlands, pine forests, near bodies of water
  • Size: 1.8-3 feet
  • Lifespan: Up to 9 years
  • Conservation status: Least concern

The western slender glass lizard is a subspecies of slender glass lizard (Ophisaurus attenuatus). It occurs in rocky hillsides, grasslands, and wooded areas throughout the west-south central and parts of the east-north central regions. Another subspecies, the eastern slender glass lizard (Ophisaurus attenuatus longicaudus) is found in the east south-central and south Atlantic regions.

This lizard species is unique in multiple ways. Its body shape and size are the most remarkable. This species is huge, by lizard standards at least, with males reaching up to 3 feet at maturity. This lizard also looks almost indistinguishable from a snake, as well. It has no limbs, and its body is long, slender, and tapering into a pointy tail.

However, its head is clearly lizard-like, with movable eyelids, a sloped, tapering snout, and ear openings. Unlike snakes, these lizards also have smooth bellies. These lizards’ body color ranges from tan to brown, and they present six dark vertical stripes going from head to tail.

The behavior of slender glass lizards is fascinating. Not only do they look like snake-lizard hybrids, but they also act as you’d expect. Slender glass lizards are diurnal and terrestrial. Like snakes, they also hibernate in self-made burrows during the colder months. When threatened and trying to flee, they’ll drop their tail in a lizard-like fashion.

A slender glass lizard’s tail makes up 2/3 of its body, and the lizard can drop its entire tail, or segments of it, without being touched. This easily “breakable” tail is the reason why they’re called “glass lizards.” Once dropped, the tail segments never grow back in full. Considering all this, it’s very difficult to find wild lizards with intact tails.

Like most lizards, its diet consists of a variety of insects, small rodents, and even small lizards and snakes. Unlike a snake, though, the glass lizard lacks the jaw flexibility to eat prey much larger than its head. Also, unlike snakes, these lizards lack defenses like sharp fangs or venom. They don’t bite humans; when approached, they will most likely freeze or flee.


Oklahoma’s beautiful lizards are a testament to the state’s rich and captivating wildlife. Whether you like colorful lizards, small skinks, and anoles, or atypical species that look more like snakes or toads, wildlife watching in Oklahoma is certainly never boring.

Each of the twelve species outlined here has unique features, but they all play equally important roles in the local ecosystem. While these lizards are not yet considered endangered, some of them, like the Texas horned lizard, are undergoing massive extinction.

Robert from ReptileJam

Hey, I'm Robert, and I have a true passion for reptiles that began when I was just 10 years old. My parents bought me my first pet snake as a birthday present, which sparked my interest in learning more about them. read more...