Lizards may be found all around the world, and they have been declared invasive in some places. One of the primary reasons a lizard leaves its natural habitat is to be sold as a pet. If the owner no longer wants to maintain the species, they may let it go in the wild. You’ll find out about ten invasive lizard species in this article.
The variety of species in the world means there is a species for everyone, and lizards are some of the greatest pet reptiles you can maintain. Some lizards are more difficult to maintain than others, and not all of them are suitable for captivity. Lizards that have been set free in tropical places like Florida may easily become invasive and create havoc.
African redhead agama lizards, green iguanas, Argentine tegus, Cuban brown anoles, knight anoles, tropical house geckos, tokay geckos, and Nile monitor lizards are among the eleven species with the greatest effect on Florida’s ecosystem.
Let’s take a look at how the native Floridian species has been impacted by these lizards being brought to Florida.
Black And White Tegu
The biggest tegu species, the black and white tegu (Salvator merianae), is a wonderful pet for those who enjoy reptiles. These lizards are bright, house-trained, and have a strong emotional connection with humans. This species is green when it is born, but as it grows up, it turns black and white.
Their huge size attracts many people to own them when they grow up to 4.5 feet. The pet trade is one of the primary reasons why this lizard is becoming invasive, and tegus make excellent pets for a big lizard.
Many individuals are interested in owning them because they are considered as wonderful pets, but they are unprepared for how difficult it will be to maintain them. Originally from Argentina, black and white tegus have spread into the United States where they are considered an invasive species. Tegus may live in Florida because they are found in marshes, bogs, and other flooded settings.
African Redhead Agama Lizard
One of the more difficult invasive species in Florida is the African Redhead Lizard. The species has been increasing at an alarming rate since its arrival in Southern Florida in 1976. Since they are resistant to conventional poisons and repellants, controlling the population growth is not known. They pose no danger to humans.
The bright orange head, blue body, and rainbow-colored tail of these lizards make them difficult to overlook. The warm Florida environment, their quick reproduction cycle, and the lack of natural predators in Florida have all been credited with the butterflies’ rapid expansion.
They pose a genuine danger to species that compete for the same insects as they do, if their population continues to expand.
Florida is home to the Green Anole. Because they can change color, they’re frequently mistaken for chameleons. They generally have green bodies, although they may turn brown, gray, or yellow over time. They can climb thanks to their sticky feet.
When a male Green Anole is about to fight an adversary or attempt to attract a mate, his neck gets a dewlap or a little pink skin flap. These lizards can be found all over the place. In the summer months, they like to lounge in the sun and spend time in yards and gardens.
In the 1880s, the brown anole was brought to south Florida from the West Indies. Their population has expanded over time, and they now have a presence across much of Florida and southern Georgia.
They’re harmless, but they’ll bite you if you attack them in self defense. As a show for females, the male blows out his throat. They may be harmful to green anoles, Florida’s sole indigenous species of anole, and are not native to the state. Lizards are probably the most well-known in Florida.
One of these lizards may be seen skating across a variety of surfaces in Florida, if you’ve ever visited. In diverse terrains, such as stony plains and wooded regions, the Six-Lined Racerunner may be found. This lizard, which can reach speeds of up to 18mph, certainly lives up to its name.
These are tiny and swift reptiles, with a maximum length of 3.75 inches (9.25 cm). The numerous stripes on the backs of the Six-Lined Racerunner may be used to differentiate them.
They range in brightness and emit a white or yellow light. These stripes are substantially brighter in males, with hints of turquoise on their bellies.
The green iguana first arrived in Florida in the 1960s after being native to Central and South America. The green iguana population has increased at an alarming rate since then. Adult green iguanas have no predators other than humans, but owls, hawks, cats, and dogs will eat them at a young age.
The major issue is the harm that green iguanas do to human infrastructure, as they do pose a danger to the Florida ecosystem’s balance. They’ve been known to dig holes that destroy sidewalks, damage canal beds, and even damage house foundations.
In reality, Florida has outlawed them for sale as pets and even encourages property owners to humanely disposing of species that live on their property because they have become such a huge issue.
The green ameiva was brought to North America as a result of the pet trade, just like other invasive species. Being native to South and Central America, they are also known as the South American ground lizard.
They prefer to live in forested areas with a lot of natural debris. This species has spread aggressively in Florida, where it may be seen digging tunnels beneath rocks and logs.
Green ameivas are huge in size, ranging from 20 to 24 inches long and covered in black speckles. Since the males will have vivid green coloration, people like to keep them as pets. beetles, termites, and spiders are valuable insects for this species, which the lizards will eat.
In areas where they are invasive, they also eat other lizards, reducing the number of native lizard species.
Florida Scrub Lizard
The Florida Scrub Lizard is only found in this state, despite being native to Florida. Their tails account for 3 inches of their body length, measuring 5.5 inches long. Their bodies are covered in rough scales, with a dark brown stripe down the sides from the neck to the tail. They have a brown or gray coloration.
Males have vivid blue patches on their sides and throats, whereas females either lack the blue patches entirely or have faint ones. These lizards can be found in sunny, sandy areas with trees that provide cover. Their favorite habitat is scrub. The Ocala National Forest, in the Sand Pine scrubs, is home to the majority of these lizards.
Eastern Fence Lizard
The panhandle and central Florida are home to fence lizards. Males have blue chins during the mating season, but they’re gray in color. They prefer dry, exposed woodlands with fallen trees and insect-feeding opportunities. In the Southeastern United States, fence lizards are very common.
Although Florida is home to a diverse collection of lizards, some are more difficult to see than others. Coal Skinks are found beneath rocks and piles of leaves, and prefer wet and damp environments.
The four light stripes that travel across their backs can be used to identify them, even if they are difficult to locate at first. Younger Coal Skinks have extremely smooth black skin with little to no markings.
The Argentine Tegu, which is native to South America, was first brought to Florida via the pet trade. Since they consume everything, they pose a serious threat to Florida’s ecosystem.
They have already shown to impact local wildlife by devouring the eggs of the vulnerable American crocodile population and bonding with the Threatened Key Largo woodrat.
Despite efforts to manage the Tegu population, they are difficult to catch because of their rapid speed and resistance to control measures. They continue to wreak havoc on the local wildlife by eating snake and bird eggs while we attempt to find a solution to contain the spread of the population.
With roughly 29 distinct species, the curly-tailed lizard is a species recognized for its curled tail. The Bahamas, Cuba, and the Cayman Islands were their original homes, but they have now spread to Florida and become an invasive species. This lizard will aggressively pursue native lizards and insects and will attack them.
The curled tails of curly-tailed lizards distinguish them from other lizards, and they are common in Florida. The most frequent color is green or brown, with the lizard being occasionally striped in both colors. Curly-tailed lizards, which can grow up to 11 inches long, are occasionally kept as pets.
The Reef Gecko is North America’s tiniest lizard. Hatchlings are 1 inch long when they emerge, while adults grow to be around 2 inches long. Because they like to hunt for insects beneath leaves and vegetation, they can be difficult to locate.
At night, they come out to play. They have light brown scales and have dark brown marks all over their bodies. Three dark, broad stripes on the heads of females can help you identify them. Reef Geckos are eaten by birds, snakes, and other lizards. Coloring helps them blend in with their environment and escape predators.
Tropical House Gecko
Central and south Florida are home to a lot of tropical house geckos. They are nocturnal lizards that grow to be around 5 to 7 inches long. They emerge at night to eat insects.
Bugs tend to congregate around lights, so you may often see them. Like other geckos, they have sticky toe pads that allow them to climb on just about any surface.
Hispaniolan Green Anole
Green Anoles from Hispaniola are most typically located in Southern Florida, where they live among trees, shrubs, and buildings. The rich emerald-colored skin of this kind of Anole, particularly in the male variety, makes it easily identifiable.
Hispaniola, a tiny island in the Caribbean between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, is home to this kind of lizard. When a species of palm trees was introduced into Florida with its eggs, they traveled to the state. This big lizard has a lengthy and prominent snout that ranges from 5 to 8 inches (12 to 21 cm) in length.
Cuban Brown Anole
By clinging to a freight container arriving from Cuba, the brown anole was able to get to Florida. The brown anole is not native to Florida, as are green anoles. By taking some of the green anole’s resources and even eating the eggs of green anole, the larger brown anole has threatened the population.
The green anole, on the other hand, has shown an intriguing transformation. The green anoles’ toe pads grew in size over a period of roughly 20 years as a result of natural selection.
Yemen and Saudi Arabia are home to veiled chameleons (Chamaeleo calyptratus), however they may be found all over the globe.
They have established themselves as an invasive species in Hawaii and Florida as a result of their escape or release. These tropical environments are ideal for living. Woodlands, gardens, and regions with somewhat thick woods are home to veiled chameleons. This species, which devours indigenous insects, frogs, and lizards outside their native habitats, creates an imbalance in the ecosystem.
The veiled chameleon, like other chameleons, has the ability to swiftly change colors. To communicate with other lizards, chameleons will change color depending on temperature and mood changes. Some people release this species because it is not the best pet.
In Florida, you may find this invasive lizard near water. The bodies of Nile Monitors are long and thick, and they are olive green or black. They have bands and spots down their backs with cream or yellow stripes on their jaws and head. They have excellent swimming abilities and can stay submerged for 15 minutes.
On branches and rocks near the water, they bask in the sun. Humans are venomous, but this lizard is not always deadly. Their victim will die from the poison, which is harmful to tiny creatures. If you see one of these lizards, leave them alone and move away from their region since they won’t attack a human unless they feel threatened.
In captivity, Nile Monitors are hostile and refuse to be domesticated. Humans attempt to keep these lizards as pets, and bite wounds are the most common occurrence.
Florida Reef Gecko
Due to the rising sea levels across the United States, the Florida Reef Gecko is the only gecko native to Florida, making it vulnerable. The most invasive lizards in Florida pose a danger to the entire ecosystem, and they outnumber native lizards.
While this lizard may reach a length of 2 inches (5 cm), its fragile skin is prone to fracture with the slightest touch. These Florida geckos are, however, quick enough to dodge dangers with ease. Brown geckos with a few black markings that fade over time make up the Florida Reef Gecko.
In the 1950s, the pet trade brought the Cuban knight anole to Florida. They pose a significant danger to other lizards, frogs, and birds because they are exceedingly aggressive. These animals are not the only ones that these creatures fight for food with, nor are they the only ones who attack them.
Anoles, Cuban knights, are also a danger because they are selective herbivores. They will almost certainly destroy chosen fruit trees and plants if they continue to expand unabated.
African Red-Head Agama
The African red-headed Agama, a difficult-to-miss species native to Africa, is named after its birthplace. Since it’s a spreading invasive species, this brilliant species may now be found in Florida. One of the main reasons this lizard is becoming invasive is due to the pet trade. Because of their mild environment and lack of natural predators, they have been able to thrive.
This species has a vivid appearance due to its orange heads, tails, and blue bodies. Males are painted in bright colors to make it easier for them to attract a mate, but females are not as colorful.
This species is also known as the Rainbow Agama and is quite sought-after in the pet trade. These dogs are a major responsibility since they can live up to 20 years. They can be great pets, though.