While most backyard lizards are harmless to humans, they can be a little troublesome to your garden, especially if you grow fruits and vegetables in your yard. Nevertheless, these lizards are a big help to your ecosystem because they help mitigate the number of insects in your home.
Backyard lizards can eat almost anything they see that’s typically smaller than them. This includes ants, spiders, flies, ticks, moths, and so much more. Garden lizards differ from other reptiles because they can easily adapt to their environment, including to its temperatures.
Backyard lizards, also called garden lizards, differ from your house lizards in the following characteristics:
- Like chameleons, garden lizards can change colors depending on their environment. House lizards don’t have this ability.
- Garden lizards are much bigger than house lizards.
- House lizards don’t have any sharp thorns on their back, unlike backyard lizards.
- Lastly, most garden lizards can rotate their eyes like typical wild reptiles, whereas house lizards can’t.
In this article, we will discuss the types of lizards you’ll find in your garden, the common species they eat, and the effective methods to repel these lizards from entering your house.
Types of backyard lizards
Birds and squirrels are not the only animals that can access the resources from your backyard. Lizards also have their way of sneaking past your fences and going through your yard. Knowing what type of lizard you have near your house can help you distinguish whether you need to call your local pest control or just let it run freely.
Although, it’s worth noting that this list doesn’t cover all the types of lizards on this planet. Those listed below are the most common types you may find roaming around your backyard.
Overall, you could find a total of 118 different species of lizards in the United States alone. Of course, you won’t find all of them in your backyard as the majority of lizards are found in tropical, temperate, and subtropical regions.
Here are the different types of backyard lizards you’ll typically encounter at your location.
- Eastern fence lizard
Eastern fence lizards are native to South Carolina and Georgia. These lizards are included in the family of lizards with spines and rough scales. Often, they will be grayish, but their colors may range from brown to nearly black.
These lizards are tree-dwellers, but at times, you’ll find them on the ground. Like squirrels, they go to the opposite side of the tree when they are pursued.
- Western fence lizard
Western fence lizards are native to Utah, California, Oregon, and Nevada. Just like the previously mentioned species, these lizards are part of the family of lizards with spines and rough scales. They can survive in different climates like in forests, coastal scrubs, and foothills.
- Eastern glass lizard
Eastern glass lizards resemble snakes because of their slender, long, and legless physic. Their difference, however, is that these lizards have inflexible jaws, movable eyelids, and ear openings. You’ll find them in greenish, light brown, or yellowish colors.
These lizards often move by day and take refuge at the bottom of logs, debris, and boards.
- Ground skink
Ground skinks are known for their slender and small physics with short legs and long tails. Their colors range from black to brown, and they have black to coppery brown stripes on the side of their body. You’ll differentiate these lizards from other reptiles thanks to their yellowish to white bellies.
As their name suggests, ground skinks never climb trees. You’ll see their tiny legs running on the ground and their body wriggling on loose soil and disappear in an instant, which makes them very difficult to catch.
- Broad-headed skink
Broad-headed skinks are considered the largest skinks in the Southeast region. These lizards have streamlined bodies and short legs. Younger broadhead skinks have black, gray, or brown colors with five yellow or white stripes on each of their sides. Adult males will develop a uniform brown or gray color on their body and orange heads.
- Five-lined skink
Five-lined skinks have the same physical components as broad-headed skinks. The only difference is that when these are young, they have bright blue tails, and when they become adults, they lose all their (yellow or white) stripes and develop an orange or reddish color on their heads.
- Southeastern five-lined skink
Southeastern five-lined skinks look the same as broad-headed skinks and five-lined skinks. With streamlined bodies and short legs, these lizards have either black, gray, or brown bodies with five yellow or white stripes on their sides.
What differentiates the southeastern five-lined skink from the two previously mentioned lizards is that, unlike the other two, the southeastern five-lined skink doesn’t have to enlarge rows of scales at the bottom of its tail.
- Green anole
Depending on the environmental conditions, green anole lizards can either be brown or green. In warm weather, you’ll find these lizards in vegetation, charging away from one spot to another. While in cool weather, you’ll find green anoles under shingles, rotten logs, or tree barks.
Geckos have different colored skins because of their ability to camouflage. Although, most geckos have greenish, blackish, or brownish colors resembling tree barks.
- Gila monster
The Gila monster is native to the northwestern Mexican state of Sonora and the Southwestern part of the United States. These lizards are slow-moving, heavy, can reach up to 60 cm long, and are venomous. Additionally, you’ll see them with orange and black stripes across their body.
You’ll find similar traits on Gila monsters and garden lizards, such as:
- Scale-covered bodies
- No sweat glands
- Dry skin
- Their inability to chew their food
- Their ability to shed their outer skin
- They have at least one lung
Common species that backyard lizards eat
Now that we’ve tackled down the different types of lizards you’ll commonly find in your backyard, let’s check out what these lizards eat.
Backyard lizards often eat ants, insects, spiders, and many more. With this variety of food available to them, they get nutritional value that enables them to grow as they are. These insects contain protein, fat, and other necessary nutrients.
What do garden lizards eat?
While lizards’ food consumption depends on their size and weight, they will eat almost anything they could get their hands on, or in their case, their tongues.
Here are some of the things that backyard lizards eat:
- Their own eggs and, sometimes, other lizard’s eggs
Diet and predation style
Most lizards choose a niche for their food, which can depend on the environment they are in. Doing so helps reduce the competition between them and other lizards or predators. Also, some lizard species were able to develop a “specialization” over the years.
Like any other wild animal, lizards tend to stalk their prey, waiting for the perfect moment to ambush it. Often, you’ll find these lizards actively hunting for their next meal.
Do garden lizards drink water?
Like any other animal, backyard lizards need water to survive. The amount of water they drink depends on how big they are. Besides, some lizards have developed ways to extract water from their prey before eating them. Although, often, they drink from a small water source or by licking the mist from plants.
Can ants kill a lizard?
Common ants cannot kill a lizard, but a certain type can. Indeed, fire ants are known for their bites and stings. On humans, these stings can develop into blisters and cause some allergies or even serious reactions.
Currently, fire ants can be found in Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, California, Louisiana, Florida, New Mexico, Mississippi, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, Puerto Rico, Texas, Virginia, and Tennessee. Recent reports also show that these ants have been spotted in Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri.
If a fire ant bites a backyard lizard, this can be fatal. Not only that, but these ants can also kill birds, frogs, and spiders. Generally speaking, these ants can help you control the species in your garden, but when they are numerous, they can be a bit dangerous.
It’s important to remember that garden lizards can greatly impact our ecosystem. They help you minimize the insects in your backyard that can come easily inside your home.
Although, it’s important to remember to always ensure that you control the number of these reptiles in your backyard. You wouldn’t want to have hundreds of fully grown garden lizards at your home.