Virginia Lizard Identification Keys
The identification keys are based on color, pattern and other physical characteristics. Each lizard identification section has two options. Follow the options through the sections.
A - Lizard has a snake like body, legless with lateral grooves present ----- Click Here - Section 2
B - Lizard has legs, no lateral grooves present ----- Click Here - Section 3
A - Distinct longitudinal black line below the lateral groove; small white markings in center of the dorsal scales; dark middorsal stripe present - Eastern Slender Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus attenuatus longicaudus)
B - No distinct black pigment below lateral groove; white markings on the posterior tips of the dorsal the dorsal scales; middorsal stripe usually absent, especially in adults - Eastern Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus ventralis)
A - Scales rough (keeled) and pointed posteriorly; black wavy bands across the back and tail - Northern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus hyacinthinus)
B - Scales smooth, flat, plate-like, or granular; longitudinal stripes present. - Click Here - Section 4
A - Body scales granular. Ventral scale plate-like and quadrangular. Six longitudinal dorsal stripes. - Eastern Six-lined Racerunner (Cnemidophorous sexlineatus sexlineatus)
B - All scales of the body smooth, flat, rounded and slightly overlapping. All scales about the same size. Five of less dorsal stripes.- Click Here - Section 5
A - Small brown skink with a snout-to-vent length of less than 50mm (2 inches). Two thin, dark dorsolateral stripes. Frontonasal scale in contact with the rostral scale. Supranasal scales are absent. - Little Brown Skink (Scincella lateralis)
B - Small to large skinks with whitish longitudinal stripes. (Stripes may be obscure or absent in older adults.) Frontonasal scale separated from the rostral scale by a pair of supranasal scales. - Click Here - Section 6
A - Four longitudinal stripes on the dorsum. Two dorsolateral stripes bordering a brownish longitudinal band and a single postmental scale. - Northern Coal Skink (Plestiodon anthracinus anthracinus)
B - Five longitudinal stripes, including one middorsal (obscured in older adults) and 2 postmental scales. - Click Here - Section 7
A - The midventral row of scales on the tail are about the same size as the other scales on the tail. A dorsolateral light stripe found on scale rows four and five (counting from the dorsal midline). The number of scale rows around the tail, 10 scales posterior to the anal plate is usually greater than eighteen. - Southeastern Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon inexpectatus)
B - The midventral row of scales on the tail are much wider than the other scales on the tail. A dorsolateral light stripe found on scale rows three and four (counting from the dorsal midline). The number of scale rows around the tail, 10 scales posterior to the anal plate is less than or equal to eighteen. - Click Here - Section 8
A - The posterior most supralabial scale is separated from the temporal scale by at least one, usually two enlarged postlabial scales. There are usually four preorbital supralabial scales on one side. The scales around the tail, 10 scales posterior to the anal plate usually 14 to 16. - Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus)
B - The posterior most supralabial scale is usually not separated from the temporal scale by enlarged postlabial scales, but usually in contact; 5 preorbital supralabial scales on one side. The scales around the tail, 10 scales posterior to the anal plate usually 17 to 18. - Broad-beaded Skink (Plestiodon laticeps)
This online lizard identification key is based on the identification key by Joe Mitchell as found in his book - Mitchell, Joseph C. 1994. The Reptiles of Virginia. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C. 352 pages.
Special thanks to Mike J. Pinder and Megan G. Rollins for the use of their illustrations.
Last update: 03/13/2017