Sceloporus woodi Photo Fiona Sunquist ©
The Florida scrub lizard is about five-inches (13 cm) long, and grey-brown with a thick dark brown stripe running down the side of the body from the neck to the base of the tail. There are 8-10 dark, wavy bars on the back. The scales are spiny, making the skin look rough, not smooth and shiny. Adult males have light blue patches on the sides of the belly and a blue throat.
Scrub lizards are endemic to Florida. They are found in widely separated habitats in the Ocala National Forest, south central Florida and patches of suitable habitat along the Atlantic Coast. The distribution of the Florida scrub lizard overlaps with the fence lizard but though the species look broadly similar, the fence lizard lacks the scrub lizard’s dark brown stripe on the side of the body. The two species can live within 10 feet of one another along a boundary between two habitats and rarely encounter each other.
Scrub lizards are most common in open sandy habitats and areas that have been kept open by fire or disturbance. They are active year round, and are often seen sunning themselves on warm winter days. At higher temperatures these lizards become extremely active. Males bob their head up and down frequently and rapidly and threaten rival males by turning sideways and flattening their body.
Scrub lizards hunt from perches on the ground, or on tree trunks. They ambush beetles, spiders and grasshoppers.
Courtship and mating occurs from Late March to early April. Females deposit eggs – 2-8 per clutch – in the sand. A single female may lay 3 to 5 clutches a season. Eggs laid in April take about 75 days to hatch.
Scrub lizards have very limited dispersal capabilities. They do not move through dense vegetation and are unlikely to disperse between scrub patches more than a few hundred yards apart. As small patches of habitat become isolated by housing and development, scrub lizards are not able to move through thick vegetation between patches to repopulate areas.
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