Discover Maryland's Herps

Maryland's Lizards (Order Squamata)

Sub-order Lacertilia

6 species in Maryland

Unlike snakes, lizards have moveable eyelids, an external ear opening, two well-developed lungs, and a lower jaw that is fused, restricting the gape and limiting the size of prey that can be swallowed (Mitchell 1994). Although legless forms do exist, all species of lizards found in Maryland have legs.

There are six species of lizards that have been reported to occur in Maryland. A total of four species are in the skink family (Scincidae); including the broad-headed skink (Plestiodon laticeps), common five-lined skink (Plestiodon fasciatus), northern coal skink (Plestiodon anthracinus anthracinus), and little brown skink (Scincella lateralis). An additional species, the southeastern five-line skink is known from only one museum specimen. Lacking confirmation, it is unlikely this species is a natural part of the Maryland herpetofauna. As a group, the skinks are characterized by smooth, flat scales that make the lizard look shiny. They also have small, flat bones (osteoderms) under each of the scales on the head, body, and tail. The legs are relatively short for lizards. There are two other families of lizards that have been found in Maryland, and they are each represented by one species. The whiptails (Family Teiidae) are represented by the eastern six-lined racerunner (Aspidoscelis sexlineatus sexlineatus) and the spiny lizards (Family Phrynosomatidae) are represented by the eastern fence lizard (Sceloporous undulatus).

Lizard Anatomy

Lizard Family

Number of Species in Maryland

Skink (Scincidae)

4

Whiptails (Teiidae)

1

Spiny Lizards (Phrynosomatidae)

1

Click on a picture or species name for profiles
of each of the 5 species of Maryland’s Scincidae.

  Common Name Scientific Name State Status

Broad-headed Skink, photo cortesy of John White

Broad-headed Skink Plestiodon laticeps  

Common Five-lined Skink, photo courtesy of Matt Sell

Common Five-lined Skink Plestiodon fasciatus  

Northern Coal Skink, photo courtesy of Charlie Stine

Northern Coal Skink Plestiodon anthracinus anthracinus Endangered

Little Brown Skink, photo courtesy of Matt Close

Little Brown Skink Scincella lateralis  

Click on a picture or species name for a profile
of the 1 species of Maryland’s Teiidae.

  Common Name Scientific Name State Status

Eastern Six-lined Racerunner, photo courtesy of John White

Eastern Six-lined Racerunner Aspidoscelis sexlineatus sexlineatus  

Click on a picture or species name for a profile
of the 1 species of Maryland’s Phrynosomatidae.

  Common Name Scientific Name State Status

Eastern Fence Lizard, photo courtesy of David Kayzak

Eastern Fence Lizard Sceloporous undulatus  
FaceBook Icon

Maryland Amphibian
and Reptile Atlas Project

"A Joint Project of the Natural History Society of Maryland, Inc. and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources"

For monthly newsletters of the Maryland Amphibian & Reptile Atlas Project click on Recent Newsletters and scroll down to the MARA Newsletters.

The Maryland Herpetology Field Guide is a cooperative effort of the MD Natural Heritage Program and the MD Biological Stream Survey within the Department of Natural Resources and their partners. We wish to thank all who contributed field records, text, and photographs, as well as support throughout its development.