Skip to main content

Wild About Illinois Lizards!

Lizards are reptiles. Reptiles are animals that have a backbone, dry skin and are covered with scales or bony plates. Their body temperature is controlled by the outside temperature and by their behavior. Some of them produce soft-shelled eggs that develop on land. They have four limbs or are related to ancestors that had four limbs. Lizards have a long body with a long tail. They have movable eyelids. Their lower jaw is fused (the two sides don’t move separately), and they have external ears. Male lizards are often territorial and fight other male lizards. There are eight species of lizards known to live in Illinois. Two of them are not native to the state.

Family and Species Gallery

Kingdom: Animalia - Animals are multicellular organisms that rely on other organisms for nourishment. There cells do not have cell walls. Most animals are capable of movement at least in some portion of their life cycle. Reproduction is generally sexual, but in some animals asexual reproduction may be utilized at certain times.
Phylum: Chordata - The Phylum Chordata contains the vertebrate animals. Mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fishes are included in this phylum. These animals have a notochord at some point in their development. They have a tubular nerve cord along the back. Gill slits and a tail are present at some point in their life cycle. They have an internal skeleton.
Class: Reptilia (lizards, snakes and turtles) - These organisms develop from and amniotic egg, which is either deposited on land or retained within the female for the extent of its development. The egg provides everything the embryo needs to develop. The shell of a reptile egg is leathery. Fertilization is internal. Reptiles are covered in scales, and their skin is dry.
Order: Squamata (lizards and snakes) - The lizards and snakes have dry, scaly skin. Their lower jaw is attached by a special bone that allows the mouth to open very wide.
Family: Anguidae (Glass Lizards) - The glass lizards have a bony plate in each scale and a groove along each side of the body. The long tail is easily broken off the body.
     slender glass lizard (Ophisaurus attenuatus)

Family: Phrynosomatidae (Sagebrush and Spiny Lizards) - These lizards have teeth along the lower jaw. They communicate with each other by body movements.
      eastern fence lizard (Sceloporus undulatus)

Family: Scincidae (Skinks) - Skinks have smooth, overlapping scales. Their tail may be easily broken off the body.
     common five-lined skink (Plestiodon fasciatus)
     broad-headed skink (Plestiodon laticeps)
     little brown skink (Scincella lateralis)

Family: Teiidae (Racerunners and Whiptails) - Racerunners and whiptails are medium-sized lizards. They have a long tail. The scales on the body are tiny.
     six-lined racerunner (Aspidoscelis sexlineata)

Resources and Other Information