Curly Tailed Lizards Invade Cocoa Beach, Florida

Walking along a wooden walkway that leads to an Atlantic Ocean beach, 8-inch stocky lizards scurry and dart through the slats of the wooden railing. I stop and look over the railing to get a better view of the lizard. This creature was standing with its feet in the sand under a grove of sea grapes with a distinctive curled tail.

This species was imported from the Caribbean in the 1940’s by the sugar cane industry to control insect pests. It has since expanded its range in Florida from the Palm Beach area and is now a self-sustaining breeding species especially along the east side of the Florida peninsula. This lizard has a voracious appetite for insects and as far as I am concerned the more roaches it eats, the better.

Little is known about its impact to native species, but it may out-compete native lizard species.

On a walk from the beachfront to the hotel room, I see one of the curly tailed lizards sunning itself on the railing of the boardwalk and begin to snap pictures of it. When I get closer it scurries away curling its tail which is a distraction for predators that may want to eat it for dinner.

9 comments on “Curly Tailed Lizards Invade Cocoa Beach, Florida

  1. I love lizards. I paint them, photograph them and have even written a poem about them. I like the curly tailed. First time I have seen these cute characters.


    • Very nice! Yes, these curly tails caught my eye because they are on the stocky side, not sleek like other species and I found it interesting how close to the beach they lived. Evidently there are quite a few species here in Florida. The brown anoles are abundant where I live. Gary


  2. Monte Carlo cafe they hangout back patio


  3. Gary, I observed curly-tailed lizards about 15 years ago in Pompano Beach. I guess they are making their way north! Florida is home to so many alien species! The brown anoles are another alien species that displaced native green anoles, driving them up into the trees many years ago. The brown anoles are abundant here in SW Florida. I think they like eating all the ants we have here! Bon appetite! 🙂


    • LOL, Yes, many of these invasive species are from outside of the U.S. and brought here and escape, or are released or travel via trade routes on boats, planes, etc. Some are home grown and due to climate change, they expand their range northward wreaking havoc on natural ecosystems.


  4. I am in Wellington and have seen many of these little fellows. We have a small dog and she tries hard to get them and darts under bushes with speed but not quick enough . I’m glad as I would hate to see her get one.


    • Hi Anne, My grandchildren love to try yo catch the wild anoles in our yard. One granddaughter was horrified when she tried to catch one and its tail came off and wiggled detached from its body. It was a great opportunity for her to learn that it was a way for them to confuse their enemies and that they grow a new tail. Best, Gary

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Very interesting abt those lizards I had no idea!

    Liked by 1 person

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