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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.

2 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.

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    • 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

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