LIZARDS OF LAKE WOODRUFF NWR

All images are copyrighted. Please contact me at pmay@stetson.edu for information about licensing of image use.

Click on any of the photographs to see a larger version.

The skinks and anoles are the most widely distributed and frequently seen lizards on the refuge, but careful searching in specific habitats will sometimes turn up a few other species as well. 

Skinks (Family Scincidae)

         Ground skinks, Scincella laterale, may be the most numerous lizard on the refuge, though they are not usually seen if you don't specifically look for them.  Any hammock habitat with a decent layer of leaf litter that is not under water water will harbor some of these small skinks.  In some mesic hammocks, they are abundant.  Kick around some leaf litter or flip a few palm fronds over and you're likely to see a couple as they slither back under cover.  Maximum length is only a couple of inches.
Southeastern five-lined skinks, Eumeces inexpectatus, can be found on both the ground and in the trees, especially on the trunks and larger branches of large oaks and palms.  They can be found in hammock habitats, especially around openings or trails, or on isolated palm trees along the dikes. Large adult males don't have the blue tails, and develop a coppery-red head during the summer breeding season. 
                 Broad-headed skinks, Eumeces laticeps, are probably present too, but don't seem to be as common. To distinguish this species from the above beyond doubt, you have to have them in hand and look at the scales on the underside of the tail.  Getting one of these guys in hand is far more easily said than done.

Anoles (Family Polychrotidae, or Iguanidae)

  Our native species of anole, Anolis carolinensis, is called the green anole, though it can be green, brown, bronze, or any mixture of the two.  These lizards are widespread in all forested habitats, except for edges near areas of high human activity, where they seem to be mostly displaced by the brown anole.
The brown anole, Anolis sagrei, is a Cuban species that has spread throughout Florida.  They thrive in more open, warm, exposed habitats than green anoles, and at Woodruff are most frequently seen around the lower parking lot.  During the summer when lots of hatchlings are present, they are often found on the ground.  They seem to be penetrating farther into the hammocks recently, displacing the native carolinensis. The bright orange dewlap of the males is distinctive.

Fence lizards (Family Phrynosomatidae)

The eastern fence lizard, or swift, Sceloporus undulatus, is typical of the drier, more upland habitats such as xeric hammock and pine woods, and the edges thereof.  If you walk along the fire breaks through the upland habitats just inside the refuge entrance, and concentrate on fallen logs or branches in openings or on edges, you might find some of these lizards basking on t sunny days.  They are not as active in foraging as the anoles and racerunners, and are quite cryptic, so you need to look carefully.

Racerunners (Family Teiidae)

The six-lined racerunner, Cnemidophorus sexlineatus, is also most frequently seen in the more open areas of upland habitats.   Look for them  along the fire breaks through the xeric hammocks and pinewoods, and along the sand road that parallels the railroad tracks just before the entrance gate.   Unlike fence lizards, these are very active foragers, and if you see them, you'll probably see them on the move, methodically poking their snouts into holes and low vegetation.  As the name implies, when alarmed, they are incredibly quick and difficult to catch.

Glass lizards (Family Anguidae)

Often confused for snakes, these medium to large legless lizards can be found in hammock habitats and on the thick grassy areas of the dike.  Often, all you'll see is a head poking out of thick vegetation or the ground, as these burrowers don't spend much time on the surface. Unlike snakes, their bodies are shiny, hard to the touch, and not as flexible as those of snakes.  They also have eyelids and an external ear opening.  Several species may be present on the refuge, but the commonest is probably this one, the eastern glass lizard, Ophisaurus ventralis.

Go to:  Alligators      Turtles         Snakes

Directions/map   Photography recommendations  Habitats   Seasonal Calendar   Species Accounts     Peter May Home Page