Lizards have a way of sneaking up on you — as a scurrying sound through fallen leaves or a flash of color on a branch or stone. Even then, it can take a moment to spot these well-camouflaged critters. But if you do any outdoor exploring in Central Texas, you’ll encounter these three common species sooner or later.
ILLUSTRATIONS Samantha N. Peters
GREEN ANOLE (Anolis carolinensis)
Green anoles are often mistaken for chameleons because they change color, morphing from brown to green depending on environment and mood. The vibrant pink or red dewlaps of males are a telltale characteristic, displayed for defense or courtship. Typically 5 to 7 inches long, these beneficial garden visitors eat an array of small insects; avoid pesticides and let them do the work!
TEXAS SPINY LIZARD (Sceloporus olivaceus)
True to their name, these lizards look spiny, especially compared with the other two depicted here. Fairly large at 7.5 to 11 inches long, these insectivorous reptiles are adept at climbing; spot them (if you can) on mesquite and other native trees as well as fences and walls. Dark markings across their backs make them a natural match with tree bark.
EASTERN SPOTTED WHIPTAIL (Aspidoscelis gularis)
These lizards, which look more striped than spotted, can be found scurrying across open ground on the hunt for mates and bugs. Whiptails like it hot and come out on even our most brutal summer days (their preferred body temp is well into the 90s). Their pinkish-orange tails make up much of their body length, which ranges from 6.5 to 11 inches.