Are Lizards in Florida Poisonous? 2023’s Latest

In Florida, more than 50 types of lizards have been found, but only 15 are native, and the others are not. Lizards are everywhere in the Sunshine State Florida. Some climb trees, others race in the grass, and some sunbathe on mailboxes. It can be scary for someone afraid of reptiles. 

Read about the poisonous lizards in Florida in this article.

Are Lizards in Florida Poisonous?

Southwestern United States Florida provides abundant food, water, and shelter for its diverse lizard population.

The exact number of lizard species in Florida is questionable, with new sightings increasing.

Non-native species, like Iguanas and Nile monitors, pose significant problems, nesting in attics, damaging vegetation, and threatening local wildlife. Some species, like the Tokay Gecko, can deliver a potent bite.

Venomous or Poisonous Lizards in Florida

Florida has no known venomous or poisonous lizards. Snakes are a different story, though. 

Do you know? Venom and Poison are different.

Something harmful that gets inside your body, like when you eat, breathe, or touch it, is a poison. Monarch butterflies are an example because they’re poisonous, and the Poison is released when any animal eats them.

Contrarily, venom is harmful when an animal bites or stings a human. For example, a rattlesnake is venomous because it injects venom when it bites.

Poisonous lizards in Florida - FLTrendz
Poisonous Lizards in Florida – FLTrendz

North America has two native lizards with venom, the Gila Monster and the Mexican bearded lizard. Interestingly, neither of them lives in Florida.

Some lizards are harmless in this article, like the Tegu, but they cause bacterial infection and severe illness because of their infected salivary gland, but it’s not venom.

Florida has no venomous or poisonous lizards, but there are harmful ones. Let’s have a deep look at those fierce reptiles. 

Cuban Knight Anole

Scientific NameAnolis Equestris
HabitatForest, mangrove, savanna, and gardens
Life Span10 Years
DietSpiders, cockroaches, grubs, and moths
Size13-20 inches long
ToxicityWhen they bite they deliver harmful pathogens.

Knight anoles are native to Cuba but were brought to Florida as pets, and now they are thriving.

Knight anoles are about 13 to 20 inches long, and sometimes, people confuse them for small iguanas because of their size.

Cuban Knight Anole - FLTrendz

Knight anoles are bright green, with yellow or white stripes under their eyes or shoulders. Their eyes are brown or gray, and they have long, thin tails. Male anoles also have red flaps under their chin, which they show off when desiring a mate.

Knight anoles are tree-dwellers, spending most of their time in the trees. They primarily consume insects and small lizards, birds, or rodents. 

Knight anoles, like other lizards, have tiny cone-shaped sharp teeth too. These teeth benefit from catching prey and crunching the hard shells of insects. 

Avoid holding knight anoles because they get aggressive on touch or disturb them. Domestic knight anoles also bite on trying to control them.

Knight anoles are not venomous; their bites hurt and cause severe, painful infections.

Check this video:

Green Iguana 

Scientific NameIguana Iguana
HabitatOn the ground, in shrubs, or in trees
Life Span20 Years
DietLeaves, fruits, and flowers
Size5 Feet
ToxicityThe venom is mild and nearly harmless.

Green iguanas are not from Florida but from Central and South America, growing from Paraguay to Mexico. In 1960, green iguanas were found for the first time in Florida, and now they are intrusive.

Green iguanas are the giant lizards in the Americas. Males can grow longer than 5 feet and weigh between 11 and 20 pounds (4-9 kg).

Green Iguana - FLTrendz

One reason for their popularity is that they are pets with their dazzling appearance. Sometimes, they are blue around the head, while usually, they are bright green. With long toes and sharp claws, they stretch along their spikes and spines for protection and intimidation.

Green anoles are herbivores and threaten native endangered tree snails to eat. 

These lizards have potent bites and strong jaws that hurt if they bite. And their teeth tear the plants harshly. 

Iguanas are different from knight anoles. When they bite, they rip what they bite. They have Salmonella in their saliva, making an infection worse.

Argentine Black and White Tegus

Scientific NameSalvator merianae
HabitatFence rows, roadsides, and forest
Life Span15-20 Years
DietFruit, eggs, insects, and rodents
Size3-5 Feet
ToxicityIts strong jaws and sharp teeth can give a painful bite, but it’s not poisonous.

Black and White Tegus are native to South America and found in Florida because of the exotic pet trade.

Their population in Florida increased in 2009, and some Florida counties have more than 4500 species in a single year. 

Argentine Black and White Tegus - FLTrendz

Tegus are shrewd, one of the reasons why people like having them as pets. They learn their names quickly and follow the commands, like puppy dogs. 

Tegus are smaller than iguanas. The males are about 4 feet long and weigh around 10 pounds. In the wild, they can live up to 20 years. Tegus are attractive lizards in black-and-white patterns with bead-like scales.

With tangible jaws, claws, and tails, tegus are muscular, and their bite is infectious. 

Tegus are harming Florida’s ecology as they are omnivores but favor eating eggs. They eat the eggs of turtles, alligators, and lizards. 

A growing and spreading tegu population may reduce populations of threatened and endangered native species such as crocodiles, sea turtles, ground-nesting birds, and the endemic Key Largo woodrat.

University of Florida’s Publication

Authorities are trying to control the tegus population in Florida, but the issue is that they are not only in the warm climates of southern Florida but everywhere in Florida. Tegus can drill tunnels and survive freezing climate, and now moving up into Georgia.

Tokay Gecko 

Scientific NameGekko gecko
HabitatRainforests and rock crevices
Life Span7-10 Years
DietMoths, locusts, grasshoppers, beetles, termites, and spiders.
Size13-16 inches
ToxicityBite is not poisonous.

Like the other lizards in this article, Tokay geckos are not native to Florida. They come from Asia and some Pacific Islands.

Tokay geckos are among the biggest geckos globally, excluding the New Caledonian giant Florida geckos. 14-inch-long Tokay geckos have rough, grayish-blue skin with orange spots.

Tokay Gecko - FLTrendz

Despite attractive looks, they are pretty aggressive, and their bite is painful. 

In their native rainforests, tokay geckos live in trees and cliffs. But in Florida, they prefer gardens, on front porches, and hiding in bushes.

Tokay geckos are active at night and snack on bugs attracted to porch lights. People in Florida like it because it keeps aggravating bugs away from their homes.

Watch this video to hear the lizard’s sound and what it’s saying:

Nile Monitor 

Scientific NameVaranus niloticus
HabitatSwamps, woodlands, mangroves, scrubs, and dry savanna.
Life Span20 Years
DietFish, raw beef heart, insects, and worms.
Size6-9 Feet
ToxicityVicious but not poisonous.

The Nile Monitor lizard is native to Egypt and is one of the giant lizards in this article. 

Adult males are 9 feet (2.7 m) long and 30 lbs (13 kg) in weight —however, most of them are around 6 feet (1.8 m) in length.

Nile Monitor - FLTrendz

Nile monitors are dark green to black, with yellow or white spots. They like water and have long, thick tails to swim.

Nile monitors are invasive species and eat anything they catch. They are harming endangered animals. 

South Florida has numerous burrowing owls but is also home to the Nile monitors. Nile Monitors periodically go into the owl burrows and eat their eggs, baby owls, and even the grown-up ones.

Nile monitors are dangerous to sea turtles because they dig up turtle nests and eat the eggs. Also, monitors are so fierce they also prey on young alligators.

Nile monitors are good at swimming, crawling, and climbing, which pushed Florida wildlife administrators to be worried because they will continue spreading to new places in Florida.

If Nile monitors continue spreading, it will cause issues for residents, especially in neighborhoods.

Nile monitors are known to prey on small pets and livestock, which is problematic for homeowners.

Only a few attacks from Nile monitors are reported, but their powerful bite and muscular tails are potentially dangerous when aggressive and temperamental.

American Alligator 

Scientific NameAlligator mississippiensis
HabitatFreshwater, swamps, marshes, and lakes.
Life Span30-50 Years
DietFish, invertebrates, frogs, birds, and mammals.
Size8.2 Feet
ToxicityNot poisonous.

Lastly, there is the most dangerous and prominent reptile in Florida. 

American Alligator is not invasive but is native to Florida and 12 feet (3.7 m) long. The weight is reported to be over 353 kg (1000 lbs). They have thick and large scales called scutes on the armor-like skin. 

American Alligator - FLTrendz

American alligators are carnivores and eat birds, frogs, fish, and mammals they can catch. They even eat deer or wild hogs. 

Being Nocturnal, they drag prey underwater to drown them before eating them. 

Far from other lizards with small, needle-like teeth, alligators have large teeth resembling canines’ prone teeth. They lose and grow over 3,000 teeth in life.

From 1948 until now, only 17 reported casualties caused by American alligators. However, every year, there are about 7 to 8 attacks.

Alligator attacks are rare on dry land. Splashes and noise tempt alligators, so most attacks ensue in places with lots of alligators.

Gila Monster

Scientific NameHeloderma suspectum
HabitatScrub or grasslands
Life SpanMore than 20 years
DietSmall mammals, lizards, frogs, insects, and birds.
Size22 inches
ToxicityToxic as western diamondback rattlesnake.

The Gila monster, found in northern Mexico and the southern United States, is Florida’s first venomous lizard.

Gila Monster - FLTrendz

It’s about 60 cm long, moves slowly due to its stocky build, and has formidable claws.

Its black or brown scales with pink, yellow, or white patterns.

They are carnivores, eating rodents, birds, snakes, insects, frogs, and eggs.

They are protected in Mexico and other places because they are vulnerable.


Lizards will not attack without a reason, except for alligators. Lizards like to run rather than oppose if they can. Alligators are different; they can be nosy. 

Rarely do alligators approach people with the longing that they will get food. They attack with curiosity when they hear water splashing; they think their food is in their territory.  

The other lizards on this list want to be left alone. If they bite, it’s usually in self-defense.


Florida is home to over 50 species of lizards, none of which are poisonous. However, they can carry bacteria like Salmonella on their skin, potentially causing illness if ingested. This risk applies to both humans and pets. Venomous lizard bites are a separate concern.

No native Florida lizards are venomous. A few invasive lizards, like the Nile monitor and iguana, produce mild venom, but their claws, teeth, and aggression are more dangerous. The only venomous lizards in North America are the Gila monster and Mexican bearded lizard, neither found in Florida. The Gila monster in the Southwestern U.S. has a nasty bite but is rarely fatal.

Contrary to earlier beliefs, some lizards produce mild venom, not bacterial-based. This venom is not fatal to humans. However, lizards can carry Salmonella in their mouths and feces, potentially spreading it to surfaces, leading to illnesses like fever, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.

Most Florida lizards are non-venomous, and bites are rare unless provoked. If bitten, clean the area with soap and water. Seek medical help if you experience pain, bleeding, burning, vomiting, throbbing, dizziness, or illness, especially if you have allergies or a weak immune system.

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