African Rainbow Lizard – Be on the Lookout

This photo of an African rainbow lizard (Agama picticaudawas taken outside of Dino’s Family Restaurant on US Highway 1 in northern St. Lucie County by George Bollis.  Jane Schnee has encountered this lizard off of CR 512 in Sebastian.  Rocks, roads, asphalt, and urban areas are attractive to this exotic pest.  It is likely to come to the ORCA area, so be on the lookout.

Also known as the African redhead lizard, this interloper from western African was first seen in the wild in the Miami area in the 1970’s, likely the result of the release of pet lizards.  By 2013, this adept climber was found in the Jupiter area, and it continues to spread northward. To view distribution maps or to report a sighting of an invasive animal, insect, or plant, visit ivegot1.org

Female lizards, shown above in another photo by George Bollis, are not as brightly colored as males.  They lay about a dozen eggs in  sandy, damp soil that is exposed to sunlight nearly all day and covered by grasses (or other groundcovers).  Eggs hatch in 8 to 10 weeks.  Nesting occurs year round in moist climates (like Florida).

This lizard can grow to be a foot long and is omnivorous.  It is yet another invasive lizard that preys upon the far smaller native anole (Anolis carolinensis).

The Florida Invasive Stewardship Partnership has created a key for big invasive lizards in Florida: http://floridainvasives.org/lizard/.  The key worked well for me for the African rainbow lizard and the curly tailed lizard (Leiocephalus carinatus), now present in our yard, I am sorry to say.

Be on the lookout for iguanas and other large non-native lizards in your yard and on your walks.

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