Oklahoma residents know that reptiles and amphibians are common; according to the Oklahoma Historical Society, the state ranks "third of all 50 states in number of species" of reptiles and amphibians. The diverse range of habitats, from the desert-like southwestern part of the state to the near-swamp in the southeast, allows for many different species to thrive.There are 19 different lizard species residing in the state that you can identify by their individual characteristics.
Anole lizards have the ability to change color to camouflage themselves. The northern green anole can be identified by its pointed nose, lanky body, and ability to change colors between green and brown. This lizard can reach up to 8 inches long and lives in more moist environments.
The Great Plains and prairie earless lizards both lack external ear openings. The Great Plains earless lizard is very small, growing only 3 inches in length. They range in color from brown and green to red and pink with stripes and spots along their backs. The prairie earless lizard can grow up to 6 inches in length and have rows of spots on either side of a pale stripe running along its spine.
The eastern collared lizard is distinguished by the black bands that encircle the neck creating the appearance of a "collar." Reaching up to 1 foot in length and able to run on its hind legs, the eastern collared lizard may be easier to identify. Its predominantly green, but has a rust-colored head and a few rusty stripes along its back.
Other Iguanid Lizards
The prairie lizard can be identified by eight or more dark-colored, jagged lines down its gray or tan back; males will have a bright, turquoise underbelly and throat. Prairie lizards' scales are rough to the touch. The Texas horned lizard has several horns over its body, but two on the head that are longer than all others. Mostly brown, this lizard has obvious rows of scales, a flattened body, and dark stripes over the head and eyes. The eastern side-blotched lizard is a flat-bodied, brown lizard with splotches of dark and light coloring across the body and down the legs and tail. It has very long toes on its feet and a dark stripe running from the nose through the eyes and down the neck.
The Texas spotted whiptail can be identified by its very long, slender tail (sometimes three times the length of its body) and its gray or white stripes covering its entire body. These greenish-brown or all brown lizards will have lighter spots on their sides. Males may have red throats and black or blue chest coloring. The checkered whiptail also has a very long tail and is distinguished by dark spotting or striping. These small lizards reach up to 4 inches in length and are pale yellow or white under their markings.
Racerunners are very fast-moving, sleek lizards with long tails. The prairie racerunner has six yellow lines that run the length of its body (three on each side). Growing up to 10 inches in length, they may have a thick, brown stripe down their backs. The six-lined racerunner also has six stripes down its body, but they are only yellow and white. Racerunners move very quickly when they detect a threat, so distinguishing between these two species may be difficult in the wild.
All skinks have larger head scales than their body scales and bony plates beneath body scales that function like armor. There are six types of skinks found in Oklahoma. They include the southern coal skink, five-lined skink, Great Plains skink, southern prairie skink, broad-headed skink and the little brown skink.
There are two other lizards that call Oklahoma home. The western slender glass lizard is a legless lizard often mistaken for a snake. Its long, bronze body is marked by a dark stripe along its spine and several stripes down the sides. Glass lizards' tails easily break off as a defensive mechanism, and it can be challenging to find one with a full tail. The Mediterranean gecko was introduced to Oklahoma and is the state's only vocalizing lizard. This gecko can grow to 4 or 5 inches long and may appear nearly white with dark spotting or brown with white and dark brown spotting.