Thirteen species of lizards live in the prairies, forests and glades of Missouri. According to the Lakeside Nature Center based in Kansas City, Missouri, the most common is the five-lined skink, and the rarest is the Texas Horned Lizard. All of Missouri's lizards are harmless to humans.
Less than 1 percent of the original prairie land of Missouri remains untouched due to agriculture, urban sprawl, and fire suppression. Species of lizards that dwell in a prairie type habitat include the western slender glass lizard, which is found in the state's savannas and grasslands. It is often mistaken for a snake as it has no legs. The Texas horned lizard is only seen in a few extreme southwestern counties. The prairie racerunner is found in prairies state-wide except on the eastern edge, where the six-lined racerunner dwells. The northern and southern prairie skinks love tall-grass prairie habitats. The Great Plains skink is seen in some far-western counties.
Nearly one third of Missouri is covered with forests. The state's largest forest-dwelling lizard is the broadhead skink, which grows to an average length of 10.5 inches and spends most of its time in trees. The five-lined skink, which is a little more than 6 inches long, is found state-wide in forest areas except for the northwest corner. The 4-inch ground skink, Missouri's smallest lizard, lives among the leaves or under rocks on the forest floor. The northern fence lizard can be found in rock gardens, rail fences, and under piles of firewood. Despite the name, it is mostly found in the southern half of the state.
The shy and secretive southern coal skink inhabits the rocky glades in southern Missouri. These lizards have a wide, coal-black line along their sides and are about 5 to 6 inches long. The eastern collared lizard can be found among the sandstone, limestone, and granite rock in glades throughout most of the Ozarks, the St. Francois Mountains, and in Boone and Callaway counties. Collared lizards, which are colorful with a long tail and a large head, average between 8 to 14 inches in length.
Primary predators of lizards in Missouri are hawks, kingsnakes, racers, and in the southwestern part of the state, roadrunners. Even badgers and skunks are known to dig up lizard eggs. A primary threat to lizards in Missouri is loss of habitat. Land owners are encouraged by the Missouri Department of Conservation to provide rock or brush piles the lizards can use for protection. They also suggest domestic cats be kept away from such areas since they pose a major threat to lizards.
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