If you’re new to Florida, one of the first things that you notice outside of the beautiful weather and scenery are the lizards that are everywhere. You will quickly find that these amazing little creatures are constantly in your way when you are outside as they quickly flee to evade your steps. But you need to know that they are totally harmless and a great benefit to our area.
Since we have heard questions about the lizards in Hillsborough county several times, we decided to get some answers about these awesome little critters.
The Lizards Of Hillsborough County
It’s important that you realize that just like Oranges, palm trees, and afternoon storm clouds, lizards are prevalent all across Hillsborough County and in much greater numbers than any of these. Most of them are quite timid and will quickly scurry out of your way as quickly as they realize that you are coming, however, you will find a few that are a bit less worried about their human neighbors and seem to not mind your presence much.
But what are the lizard species which are common in Hillsborough County?
There are four species of lizards that are common in our area. Let’s cover each of them individually so that you get an idea of the differences between them.
One of the most common lizards in our area is the brown anole lizard (pronounced “uh-noles”) or Anolis sagrei. Of course, it is brown and has a short snout with an orange throat dewlap and very interesting white diamonds on its back. The brown anole is not a natural species in Florida. In fact, in the early 1900s, they were accidentally introduced from the West Indies and are now found all throughout Florida. The great thing about this invasive species is that it eats a tremendous amount of insects, however, it does compete with the green anile for resources and may even eat their offspring.
There are two types of gecko lizards found in the Hillsborough County area. One is the tropical house gecko, or Hemidactylus mabouia and the other is the Mediterranean gecko or Hemidactylus turcicus. Both are not native to this area and could be invasive. Not a lot is known of the gecko’s effects on native frog and other lizard populations, however, both are brown in color, with large eyes that have no eyelids, with large, spread finger-like feet. They are believed to have come from the pet industry and are often found around your porch, outdoor lights and in garages.
The green anole or Anolis carolinensis is the most common, native species of lizard in Florida. The green anole ranges between five and eight inches in length and can actually change color from green to a brownish color depending on heat and sun exposure. They typically live in and around trees and shrubs and are able to climb walls and even glass, yet are more closely related to iguanas than chameleons.
You will often see the male green anole displaying their pink throat dewlap, which they extend as a sign of dominance or as a mating display and they have the ability to lose their tail if grabbed by a preditor in order to escape and regrow it later. They do a great service to us humans by eating a tremendous amount of flies, beetles, and other invertebrate insects.
Skinks in our area are fairly common and sometimes mistaken for a snake due to their round bodies and short legs. There are two varieties of skink in our area. One is the southern five-lined skink or Eumeces inexpectatus and the other is the ground or brown skink, or Scincilla lateralis. Both are native species that are typically around 3-4 inches long and brown in color and spend most of their lives on the ground around leaf litter and rotting logs, but can also climb walls and other obstacles for food.
Our Lizards Are Harmless
At some point, you will find one of these lizards in your garage or home. It’s inevitable that it is going to happen. Please remember that they are harmless to you and your family, so please do not attempt to kill them. Simply round them up to herd them out a door, or scoop them up in a small box and rustle them outside.
You will also want to be sure that you keep your pets clear of lizards. If eaten, they can make your pets sick, choke or even worse depending on the situation. So remember that lizards and your pets don’t go together.