More than 150 lizard species are in the U.S. with over 40 species of lizards in Texas. There are only 2 species of poisonous lizards in the United States, The Gila monster and the Mexican beaded lizard, neither species is found in Texas.
For the lizards that do reside within Texas’ borders, hot and humid temperatures offer a great habitat for them. For example, they love basking in the blazing sun to soak up the vitamin D and keep themselves warm.
Each species has their own environmental preferences, ranging from the backyard of homes to rocky or sandy areas. Read on to learn more about 15 common and interesting species of lizards you can find in Texas.
15 of the most common lizards in Texas
Here are examples of 15 of the more common and well-known Texas lizards, including their preferred habitats and interesting facts.
1. Texas horned lizard
Scientific name: Phrynosoma cornutum
The Texas horned lizard, or horny toad, is an interesting-looking lizard with multiple horns on their heads. Since they burrow for nesting and hibernation, you’ll mostly find them in areas with loose soil or sandy terrains. Although they live throughout most of Texas, they are currently listed as a threatened species and illegal to own as a pet.
2. Greater earless lizard
Scientific name: Cophosaurus texanus
Greater earless lizards are found throughout most of Texas in mid-range elevations where mesquite trees, cactus, and creosote brush grow. In the spring or early summer, males can develop bright green, blue, and yellow colors. They are also fast runners and will curl their tails over their bodies to move quickly.
3. Green anole
Scientific name: Anolis carolinensis
Green anoles can be green or brown and may change color similar to chameleons. The males have bright pink throat fans called dewlaps that they use to attract mates or intimidate their competition. They are tree-dwelling lizards common throughout the southern and eastern parts of Texas. You can often find them in backyard gardens snacking on insects, such as grasshoppers, crickets, spiders, and moths.
4. Brown anole
Scientific name: Anolis sagrei
Brown anoles live throughout Texas but are an invasive species originally from the Bahamas and Cuba. In fact, they commonly eat green anoles and compete for food, so their introduction to Texas pushed the green anoles to change their behavior and become tree-dwellers. Brown anoles can change color slightly but typically stay beige or brown. Males have a bright reddish-orange dewlap that stands out against their darker, patterned bodies.
5. Prairie lizard
Scientific name: Sceloporus consobrinus
One of the best climbers is the prairie lizard. They spend most of their days above the ground and prefer open habitats with places to perch. You can find them hanging out on trees, fences, or even on top of sunflowers throughout most of Texas. Besides being excellent climbers, they are fast runners and will bolt away when startled.
6. Texas spiny lizard
Scientific name: Sceloporus olivaceus
Another climber, is the Texas spiny lizard. They have sharp claws and long toes that help them climb trees, fences, or telephone poles. Their grayish coloring with white, black, or reddish-brown blotches also helps them blend in against tree bark. These lizards are most common in the central regions of Texas.
7. Common spotted whiptail
Scientific name: Aspidoscelis gularis
The common spotted whiptail has bodies measuring 2.25 to 4.25 inches and the longest tails in the whiptail lizard family. Their tails are often over 3 times their body length. Since they aren’t very skittish, it’s quite easy to find them hanging about. They live throughout the state in riverbank and prairie grassland habitats.
8. Six-lined racerunner
Scientific name: Aspidoscelis sexlineata
The six-lined racerunner can be found throughout Texas, except the Big Bend region. They have the widest range of lizards in the state, from grasslands and wooded areas to rocky terrain and floodplains. They get their name from their incredible speeds, running up to 18 miles per hour! This helps them outmaneuver predators and catch prey.
9. Texas alligator lizard
Scientific name: Gerrhonotus infernalis
Texas alligator lizards have long bodies with checkered scales and tiny legs. They are the second-largest lizard species in the state, growing up to 20 inches long. These lizards are common in central Texas, especially around San Antonio and Austin. Although you’ll want to avoid handling them since their strong jaws deliver painful bites.
10. Eastern collared lizard
Scientific name: Crotaphytus collaris
The eastern collared lizard has beautiful coloring, especially males which can be yellow, orange, bright blue, or turquoise. These lizards live throughout central and northwest Texas in rocky habitats, including grasslands, desert shrublands, and juniper-pinon forests. They love space for running and rocks for basking in the sunlight. They are also aggressive predators and territorial among each other.
11. Reticulate collared lizard
Scientific name: Crotaphytus reticulatus
Although not brightly colored, the reticulate collared lizard has a yellowish tint and dots that form a unique fishnet pattern on their bodies. They are the only collared lizard species that aren’t restricted to rocky habitats. Found mostly in the southern-most part of Texas, these lizards live in desert scrubland, prickly pear cactus patches, and mesquite groves.
12. Ornate tree lizard
Scientific name: Urosaurus ornatus
Ornate tree lizards are common in central and western Texas. While they can climb trees to search for food, these lizards prefer perching on rocks by riverbanks in foothill and desert regions. They are typically dark brown, tan, or gray and males have bright blue patches on their bellies.
13. Slender glass lizard
Scientific name: Ophisaurus attenuatus
Slender glass lizards are commonly mistaken for snakes since they don’t have legs and have long slender bodies ranging from 22 to 47 inches long. Unlike snakes, however, they don’t have flexible jaws. They get their names from their very fragile tails that break off easily as a defense mechanism to help them escape predators. These lizards live in open forests and dry grasslands in eastern Texas.
14. Mediterranean house gecko
Scientific name: Hemidactylus turcicus
The Mediterranean house gecko is Texas’s most widespread and abundant gecko species. However, they aren’t native to the state and were imported through plants with their eggs. They are a highly adaptive and “urbanized” species, meaning they can survive in the wild or live happily in your house. You can find them throughout most of south, eastern, and central Texas.
15. Texas banded gecko
Scientific name: Coleonyx brevis
Texas banded geckos are recognizable by their distinct crossbands of yellow or black. They have an interesting defense mechanism where they point their tail like a scorpion to confuse and deter predators. If all else fails, they drop their tails to escape. You can typically find them along the Mexican border, especially in open woodlands and desert grasslands with plenty of rocks.