9 Different Types of Lizards in Tennessee

Types of Lizards in Tennessee
Photo by Nennieinszweidrei

There are nine different types of lizards in Tennessee. These shiny reptiles come in different colors and patterns. They exist in various habitats and vary in both behaviors and adaptations.

Most lizards prefer to be outdoors but sometimes wander into homes and buildings. Although they do not cause any damage to home structures, they’re still regarded as pests due to their scary appearance. 

If you live in an area where there is an abundance of fruits or flowering plants, then you’ll see them more frequently.

So, without further ado, let’s look at the different types of lizards you can find in Tennessee.

1. Green Anole

The green anole is very popular due to its ability to change colors. Depending on the temperature, environmental conditions, or mood, it can be brown or green. Males measure up to 8 inches long, but females are smaller. 

Although anoles typically inhabit trees, anoles can be found anywhere. They also live in suburban and even urban settings, where they can be observed perched on rooftops and fences.

Anoles are active during the daytime in warm weather and often relax in vegetation. Occasionally, they will charge from their resting location to capture or drive away a rival anole. You can find them hiding under tree bark or rotten logs during the cold weather.

Furthermore, green anoles are among the most popular pet reptiles. They are cheap and easy to care for, but they must be handled carefully. However, Keeping their terrarium or habitat in good condition takes careful and regular attention.

Anoles are entertaining to watch since they are active during the day and enjoy climbing. In addition, their eagerness to communicate with their human owners is one of their best traits. For example, some are even willing to eat from their owner’s hands.

Although picking up an anole is acceptable, it’s best to avoid holding them by the tail. Instead, learn how to pick them up by placing a hand under their belly. Moreover, these reptiles prefer perching on a person’s shoulder.

You can purchase green anoles at almost any pet store, and they’re very affordable. Ensure to look for an active specimen that is healthy and well cared for. If you find one with missing toes, don’t fret, anoles can regenerate them without any health issues.

2. Eastern Fence Lizard

This reptile is among the medium-sized lizards in Tennessee. They come in shades of gray or brown and have keeled scales. The belly is white with black specks and has some pale blue on the throat and belly.

Eastern fence lizard is widespread in Ohio, Missouri, Georgia, Colorado, Pennsylvania, northern Florida, Arkansas, Alabama, West Virginia, Kentucky, and some other states. 

These lizards prefer to inhabit shrublands, grasslands, and near forest edges. They also stay and hide beneath rocks, wood heaps, and stumps.

Although they are mostly arboreal animals, eastern fence lizards can also be found on the ground. During the day, you can find them sunbathing on rocks, logs, fences, and tree trunks. These reptiles are solitary and territorial.

To avoid getting caught, fence lizards will fly up into the nearest tree and stop on the other side of the tree trunk. If the pursuer continues to circle the tree, the lizard will spiral up the tree trunk until it disappears.

Furthermore, eastern fence lizards are carnivores. They feed on stink bugs, ladybugs, grasshoppers, moths, spiders, beetles, and ants. Also, they have a life expectancy of five years.

3. Little Brown Skink

The little brown skink is among the different types of lizards in Tennessee. They are small, slender lizards with short legs and long tails. 

Their coloration ranges from golden brown to almost black. However, most of them are coppery brown with a dark stripe running along each side of their body. Their belly is either white or yellowish in color.

Little brown skinks are abundant in all but the wettest habitats. They inhabit regions with loose soil and lots of leaf litter and hide beneath logs, boards, and other cover materials.

Little brown skinks seldom climb, unlike other lizards around. Instead, they move through leaf litter or loose dirt using their slender bodies rather than their tiny legs, frequently vanishing in an instant when they are discovered.

They will sever their tail to fool a possible predator. In the summer, female brown skinks lay clutches of several eggs in moist soil or on decaying logs.

These skinks are known to produce numerous clutches each season. They prey on spiders, tiny insects, and other invertebrates.

4. Six-Lined Race Runner

The six-lined race runner is among the different types of lizards in Tennessee. They have six bluish or yellowish stripes running along their dark body. Their body is usually some shade of black, brown, or greenish brown.

Their nose has a long and pointed shape. They can grow up to 9.5 inches in total length (24 cm). Males are slightly smaller than females and have bluish bellies.

This lizard inhabits open spaces like floodplains, prairies, fields, and thickets. It is active during the day and is frequently spotted basking on rocks, trees, logs, or other buildings.

The six-lined race runner may seek shelter beneath rocks, and boards, in burrows it has dug for itself or in other animals’ burrows.

To overwinter, it burrows in loose soil on the south or southwest-facing slopes. Springtime is when couples court and mate. During courtship, the male shows his colorful chest and throat.

The female lays three to five eggs in late June or early July in the sand, soft dirt, or decaying logs. Older females may have two clutches per year.

The eggs hatch in August. The racerunner feeds on insects, spiders, termites, and other arthropods.

5. Coal Skink

The coal skink is among the different types of lizards in Tennessee. These lizards often have four lines on their back, with the light stripes extending all the way to their tails.

In addition, they have a broad, dark lateral stripe that is 2.5 to 4 scales wide and no light lines on the tops of their heads.

During the spring breeding season, a male’s head’s sides turn reddish. The young are either all black or have patterns like the adults. This species is scarce and difficult to find. 

Coal skinks mate during the late spring/early summer, with the young hatching in July or August. Nests are often tiny burrows in damp soil behind rocks that hold 4 to 9 eggs. The females actively protect their nests until the eggs hatch.

Furthermore, the southern mountains are the most common habitat for coal skinks. These lizards prefer the more humid areas of wooded slopes and near springs and rocky bluffs in creek valleys.

They eat different arthropods, including earthworms, ant larvae, and termites. These lizards hide in shallow streams and under stones or debris when pursued.

They can also easily break off their tails when caught by a human or predator. Moreover, they can regenerate a new tail. 

6. Common Five-lined Skink

The common five-lined skink is one of the most common types of lizards in Tennessee. A young skink’s coloring ranges from dark brown to black, with five white or yellowish body stripes and a brilliant blue tail.

With time, the blue color turns light blue, and the stripes may gradually disappear. Adults frequently have a uniform brownish tint due to the fading dark brown color.

These lizards prefer damp, somewhat forested habitats with plenty of covers, trees, and places to soak up the sun.

They live in rocky locations, stumps, logs, brush piles, and mixed pine-hardwood forests. You can also find them along wooded river margins or behind the walls of abandoned structures.

Although common five-lined skinks are ground dwellers, they can also climb trees. They are most active during the day and, if approached, will flee and take cover in the nearest tree or log.

Like many other lizards, the common five-lined skinks will lose their tails when cornered or threatened by a predator. This enables the lizard to divert potential predators and flee.

Although American these lizards are solitary animals, they can hibernate in small groups during the harsh winter. Male adults display complex courting and aggressive behavior.

Males allow youngsters and females in their territories, but they fiercely protect these areas from other males. These lizards use their vision and ability to sense pheromones to determine the gender of other skinks.

7. Southeastern Five-lined Skink

This is also among the different types of lizards in Tennessee. They’re moderately large lizards with short legs and streamlined bodies. Their body is generally black, brown, or grey with five white or yellowish stripes. 

These lizards are very similar to the common five-lined skink and broadhead skink. One distinguishing feature is that southeastern five-lined skinks do not have a row of scales under the tail. In addition, broadhead skinks are larger. 

This species is common in dry woodland areas with many fallen trees and stumps to hide in. They can also be found on the ground or in trees. These lizards prefer drier habitats and are more common in dry pine forests and along the coast.

Southeastern five-lined skinks are rarely seen in the open, preferring to hide beneath logs or under tree bark. When pursued, these lizards usually flee to the nearest tree or log, making them tough to catch.

In addition, these lizards will cut their tails when caught, confusing the predator and enabling them to flee.

During the summer, female southeastern five-lined skinks lay large clutches of eggs under rotting logs or moist soil.

They then tend to the eggs until they hatch. These lizards prey on a variety of spiders, insects, and other invertebrates.

8. Broad-headed Skink

These reptiles are also among the common lizards in Tennessee. They get their names from their wide jaws, which gives their head a triangular appearance. Adult males are olive-brown or brown and develop a bright orange head during mating season.

The tail and the rear of the female feature five bright stripes. Juveniles are black or dark brown and have blue tails.

Although they are found in urban areas, they prefer moist woodlands with lots of leaf litter, particularly oak forests.

The only time single broad-headed skinks congregate is to mate. They are active from April to November during the day. 

These skinks can easily climb trees to sleep, form shelters, or search for food. They use tongue-flicking to locate their food by sight and smell.

Broad-headed skinks will run to the closest tree or log if they feel threatened. They may also detach their tails to confuse potential predators and use the opportunity to flee.

 These lizards are carnivores and feed mainly on spiders and insects. However, they sometimes feed on rodents, mollusks, and small reptiles.

9. Slender Glass Lizard

Last on this list of lizards in Tennessee is the slender glass lizards. These lizards are often mistaken for snakes since they lack legs. No color or pattern distinctions exist between male and female slender glass lizards.

These lizards are terrestrial and inhabit temperate regions. They like places with less canopy cover and plenty of wood debris. 

Their nesting sites include wooded areas near pathways and clearings. In addition to being fossorial, these lizards often occupy and reside in the burrows of small mammals.

Furthermore, slender glass lizards practice behavioral thermoregulation, meaning their activity is temperature-dependent.

They will become nocturnal and active at night if it’s too hot outside and diurnal if it’s too chilly outside in the evening.

When it’s too cold during the winter, they hibernate. The location for hibernating must be safe from small mammals and below the frost line. These lizards are skittish and will flee when threatened.

Slender glass lizards use tactile senses like biting and thrashing during mating. Males start the mating process by biting the females. 

Males will bite the female’s head or tail if unresponsive and attempt to enter their hemipenis into her vent by rhythmic swimming motions. 


All lizards in Tennessee are docile and pretty harmless. However, you will hardly see them because they love to hide under woodpiles than stay around people.

In addition, not all these lizards are widespread across Tennessee, so the lizards you see around your house depend on your location.

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