Nonnatives - Rainbow Lizard

Rainbow Lizard - Cnemidophorus lemniscatus


Florida's Exotic Wildlife. Species detail.

First year: 1964

Extirpated year:

Established status: Populations are confirmed breeding and apparently self-sustaining for 10 or more consecutive years.

Estimated Florida range: 1 county  At least 10 years

Statewide trend: Stable

Rainbow Lizard
Photograph by Kevin M. Enge © 2003

Threats to natives: None known.

Species Account: This species occurs widely in the neotropics but is presently confined in Florida to 2 or 3 warehouse complexes in Dade County with pebbled expanses of sandy soil and low, sparse weeds. The populations originated from escapees or releases from the pet trade. This is actually a species complex that looks similar but is genetically variable and even contains some parthenogenetic (all females species. The Florida populations, however, are apparently bisexual. Large males may exceed 30.5 cm (12 in) in length, but most are smaller. These are very beautiful lizards, with males having brown backs with yellow and lime-green stripes and golden sides with yellow spots. The face, throat, and front of the legs are turquoise blue, and the tail is green. Females are duller with 7-9 yellow stripes on a greenish-brown body, orangish head, and bright green tail, hind limbs, and lower sides. Lizards actively forage for insects on the open ground and retreat to their burrows or the shade of a plant or building when too hot. They also will eat leaves and flowers of the toxic European punctureweed (Bartlett 1995, Bartlett and Bartlett 1999).

Habitats: Central or core urban area, Barren land

County First Year Extirpated Year Breeding status Notes 
DADE 1964


At least 10 years Hialeah (King and Krakauer 1966); this population no longer exists, but isolated populations occur elsewhere in northern Dade County (Wilson and Porras 1983, Bartlett 1995)


Bartlett, R. D. 1995. The teiids of the southeastern U.S. Tropical Fish Hobbyist 43(7):112, 114-119, 121-122, 124-126.

Bartlett, R. D., and P. P. Bartlett. 1999. A field guide to Florida reptiles and amphibians. Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, Texas. 278pp.

King, F. W., and T. Krakauer. 1966. The exotic herpetofauna of southeast Florida. Quarterly Journal of the Florida Academy of Sciences 29:144-154.

Wilson, L. D., and L. Porras. 1983. The ecological impact of man on the south Florida herpetofauna. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, Special Publication No. 9. 89pp.

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