Lizard

Description

In the southern United States, lizards are somewhat of a nuisance to homeowners and businesses. Although the animals are largely beneficial to humans due to their insectivorous nature, some types of lizards make frequent, unwanted appearances in homes and gardens. The most frequently encountered types of lizards include the common house gecko, Mediterranean house gecko, green and brown anoles, western fence lizards, and, in southern Florida, green iguanas. These lizards typically eat insects, like beetles, ants, grasshoppers, and spiders, though iguanas primarily feed on leaves, flowers, and fruit.

Appearance

Lizards vary in appearance from species to species; however, almost all types share common characteristics such as dry, scaly skin, four legs, external earholes, and eyelids that cover their eyeballs. Lizards also possess a rather unique feature known as autotomy, which is the ability to survive the severing of their tails in order to escape when attacked by a predator. Their tails then grow back after a period of several weeks.

Mediterranean house geckos are small creatures with mottled patches of light brown coloring across their scales, while common house geckos are somewhat more vivid, sporting a marbled coloring of pink or gray and white undersides. Green and brown anoles are similar in size to house geckos, with narrow snouts, long tails, and pink flaps of skin under their chins. Western fence lizards are medium-sized lizards featuring camouflaged patterns of gray, brown, and black, and have spiny scales that help them blend in with their environments. Green iguanas are large, green lizards with stout yet agile bodies, green flaps of skin beneath their chins, short spikes along their spines, and long, whip-like tails.

Habitat

Nocturnal house geckos are common in urban areas and prey on insects attracted to street lamps and human activity. Western fence lizards prefer to live in rocky outcroppings, cliffs, and mountains. Anoles and iguanas are adept climbers who like to live in areas of dense foliage. Iguanas are native to Central and South American rainforests where they are known as the chicken of the trees. As ectothermic creatures, lizards rely on external sources of heat to regulate their body temperatures. They bask in sunlight on warm days and hibernate during the winter.

Entry

Are lizards known to enter homes or yards?
Predatory lizards, such as geckos, commonly enter homes throughout the southern U.S. in search of bugs to eat. The smaller reptiles can squeeze through cracks and holes as small as a quarter of an inch wide. Other types of lizards are commonly seen in gardens and yards eating bugs or plants. Iguanas sometimes create burrows under sheltered places, such as sidewalks or building foundations.

Damage

Do lizards harm people or property?
The only type of lizard in the United States which poses a real threat to people, pets, or property is the iguana, which is only found in the southernmost tip of Florida. Due to their diet as herbivores, iguanas eat ornamental trees and shrubs, as well as fruit and vegetables from gardens. Adult iguanas can also be relatively powerful for their size, and may bite or whip their long tails when cornered or threatened. Other types of lizards are completely harmless to people and property and are considered beneficial due to the insects they consume.

Control and Safety

Lizards are generally skilled climbers, so special types of fencing must be employed to keep them away. Residents should fill in or seal gaps in their walls, such as those found around pipe and wire entrances, door and window screens, or vents, with caulk, foam, mesh, or cloth barriers. Lizards cannot chew through building materials like rats can and will not cause structural damage to homes. Some lizards bite if handled, so residents should call an expert to remove animals found in homes or yards.

Trapping and Removal

Humanely catching or trapping lizards can prove difficult, as they are agile animals and can fit through small spaces. The best course of action is to call in trained wildlife control professionals experienced in dealing with lizard incursions. Critter Control technicians are well versed in the habits of lizards and effectively and humanely remove infestations.