There are 5 lizard species you will come across when living or visiting Ohio.
Whether you recently found a lizard in your backyard or you’re out with the family and one of your children spotted a lizard and you want to identify it, then you have come to the right place.
Continue reading for more detailed information on the lizards you can come across when in Ohio.
Are Lizards in Ohio Poisonous?
There are reports of lizards giving a nip if captured. They are wild and protecting themselves, so expect some form of retaliation by the reptile if you corner it.
The good news is that while a bite from a lizard may be scary, there is no risk of any serious health issues as a result.
The lizards you find in your yard or around your home are not poisonous, but they are fantastic in managing insect populations.
Skink juveniles have bright blue tails and are often referred to as “scorpions.” They are believed to have a venomous sting, but this is false.
It is believed the skink is awful tasting for some predators, but should not impact humans if you follow good hygiene practices.
Lizards in Ohio
1. Common Five-lined Skink
Scientific name: Plestiodon fasciatus.
Common name: American five-lined skink, common five-lined skink.
The common five-lined skink measures up to 8.5 inches (21.5 centimeters).
These large lizards have short legs with long bodies. They tend to be brown, black, or gray in color with five white to yellow stripes.
The stripes run two on either side of the body with one down the center of the back.
The common five-lined skink can be found throughout Ohio and can be seen in trees or on the ground. They are most common where there are ample logs and stumps where they can hide.
Even though they can live in trees, the common five-lined skink tends to spend more time on the ground.
They are fast and will dart to the nearest tree if they are pursued or feel threatened. If restrained they break off their tail to distract their predator, giving them time to escape.
2. Common Wall Lizard
Scientific name: Podarcis muralis.
Common name: common wall lizard, European wall lizard.
The common wall lizard is a small and thin lizard with variable colored and patterned scales. They tend to be more on the gray to brown side with small areas of green.
Some common wall lizards have a row of spots that can be found on their backs to create a line. Some have a rectangle pattern combined with dark spots down the side. The spots on the shoulders may be blue in color.
The tail tends to stay a rust color, brown or gray with light bars down the sides and a red, pink, or orange belly.
There are a number of common wall lizard morphs, which vary in length, immune system, and survival rate.
The possibility of getting an infection varies between the morphs with red and yellow-red morphs being the most likely to get an infection caused by a parasite.
Each morph has a different femoral gland secretion made up of different compositions. This is used to mark territories and attract females.
These lizards are often found amongst the rubble that can be found along the Ohio river basin.
3. Eastern Fence Lizard
Scientific name: Sceloporus Undulatus.
Common name: Eastern fence lizard, prairie lizard, fence swift, gray lizard, northern fence lizard, pine lizard.
The eastern fence lizard measures up to 7.25 inches (18.5 centimeters).
They tend to be gray in color, though they have been identified in black to brown.
Females tend to have a horizontal black pattern on their back and males have bright blue under their chins and undersides during mating season.
Fence lizards are found in mountains and coastal areas. They are seldom far from a tree and can be found in open forests, especially those with stumps and logs providing ample hiding place.
These lizards will live on the ground or in trees and can be found at ground level now and then. If you pursue the lizard it will make its way to the nearest tree for protection.
4. Broad-headed Skink
Scientific name: Plestiodon laticeps.
Common name: Broad-headed skink, broadhead skink.
The broad-headed skink grows up to thirteen inches (33cm) and is the largest skink, except for a glass lizard.
This skink has short legs with a long and streamlined body, which is gray, black, or brown in color complete with five white to yellow stripes. The strips run two down either side and one down the back.
Adults tend to fade to a uniform gray or brown with males having large orange heads with a powerful jaw. Juveniles have bright blue tails which fade as they age.
The broad-headed skink can be found in many wooded areas and can be found on the ground or in the trees, though the larger males spend the majority of their time off the ground. Juveniles tend to hide under bark and debris on the ground.
If pursued the skink will head to the nearest tree or log to make it hard to capture. They will drop their tail if captured to distract their predators.
5. Little Brown Skink
Scientific name: Scincella lateralis.
Common name: Little brown skink, ground skink.
The little brown skink grows up to 5.5 inches (14.5 cm) and is a small, long and slender lizard with very short little legs.
They tend to range from black through to golden brown or copper brown with a stripe that runs down either side of the body. They have a yellow to white belly.
The little brown skink can be found throughout Ohio where there are leaf litter, loose soil and logs, and other places that provide ample hiding and shelter. These skinks seldom climb but prefer to wriggle their way through the leaf little.
They are fast to disappear if you find them. They will also break their tail off to protect themselves if captured, giving them a few seconds to dart to safety.