Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Brown Lizards

My life in appalachia - Brown Lizards

Yesterday, when Chatter came in from outdoors, a small friend had hitched a ride on her leg. He was about 2 inches long. The brown lizards seems to thrive on the rocky red clay bank behind our house. Me and the girls call them dinosaur lizards-because the full grown ones look just like miniature dinosaurs.

I believe the correct name for the lizard is the Eastern Fence Lizard but I’m not sure. I’ve read in some parts of Appalachia the brown lizard is also referred to as a fence scorpion.

Do you have them around your place?


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    George Long
    August 15, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    We have lizards in West Virginia but as others said the “blue tails”. As a child I would try to catch them which was near to impossible, they are fast, and were on the old chestnut rail fence my grandfather built. They are fast as lightning.

  • Reply
    Wayne Newton
    August 8, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    WHOA! Tipper, when you said on her leg, I thought you meant on her LEG!
    I was thinking, is there no end to this girl’s abilities, sing, play, dance, and now a charmer of dinosaurs.
    Thankfully your foto showed it on her jeans. WHAT A RELIEF!

  • Reply
    August 7, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Well Mr. Ammons had already spoken for Burke County. We have the browns & the blue tails & they all live in my garden. I let them have 1 zucchini plant along w/ the stinkbugs & they left the others alone. My Buff Orpingtons (the blood thirstiest of my flock) will occasionally run by w/ a lizard segment dangling from their beak. I think one of them is poisonous & nearly killed my cat.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    August 7, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    What… no more fishing stories?
    Oh well, lizards it is then.
    I have seen the brown lizards before but we seem to have mostly blue tail Skinks around here. I’m not a big fan of lizards unless one is dangling from the end of my hook. I think it is the little beady eyes that bother me. My neighbor had some kind of tropical lizard and my wife volunteered me to feed and water it while they were on vacation. That was one strange critter and I never trusted him! It was about a foot long with eyeballs that went in all kinds of directions. I had to feed it crickets and meal worms, change its water, spray the foliage in his cage and make sure the heat lamp was working so it didn’t get too cold. The whole time I would do this he would have one eye on me and the other on something else. He was high maintenance and really not good for much in my opinion. I mean he couldn’t do any cool tricks like sit or catch a Frisbee although, he was good at playing dead because I thought I had killed him a couple of times. It turned out he was just playing possum and messing with me. When we parted ways I wished him the best and he never laid those crazy eyes upon me again!

  • Reply
    August 7, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    ours are brown anoles, a little different than yours and thinner bodies.

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    August 7, 2012 at 11:54 am

    I was surprised to learn and to see many species of lizards in NC. We have lots in FL, but NC is not were I expected to see them in abundance. I am not fond of slithery creatures like lizards and snakes, so I am careful when I am working in my gardens. Thanks for the story. I must admit that I have a teaching story, my first year, when a student brought in a lizard for show and tell. Jamie just loved to bring in creatures. While holding this creature to show the students, his tail broke off (little did I know this would happen) and this little creature ran up my long sleeve blouse and into my bra. Third graders were rather hysterially laughing, but with the principal’s office on the other side of my room, he came running in to see what was going on. Needless to say, it was an experience. No more lizards for my hands. Getting it out – well that is another story, one I don’t care to share.

  • Reply
    Pamela Moore
    August 7, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Oh yes, they are all over the place here in Florida. Some of the green, little ones, but mostly the little brown anoles.

  • Reply
    August 7, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Yes we do!
    In fact we are very fond of the one that has laid claim to the territory under the grill. He scoots out and lays on the concrete walk to sun himself. He is actually getting use to us and does not run very far anymore. Sterling has a pet one that likes to go 4 wheeling with him. It claimed his vehicle and will ride all the way down the drive and the lane to the post box and back. Seems to really like it too! 😀

  • Reply
    Stephen Ammons
    August 7, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Thanks Mike for the info on the 3 foot lizards in south Florida. If I ever visit the area they are in I will need to be prepared with at least one pair of clean underwear and a good varmint rifle. I wonder if they taste like chicken. 🙂

  • Reply
    August 7, 2012 at 10:19 am

    I want to congradulate Gary on his
    win. You just can’t get a more
    thorough idea on Fly Fishin’ than
    what Jim has to say…Ken

  • Reply
    Kimberly Burnette
    August 7, 2012 at 10:17 am

    I see them around our house on a fairly regular basis. I have always called them Dinosaur Lizards too! 🙂

  • Reply
    Gary Powell
    August 7, 2012 at 10:16 am

    We have many of these around our place. I built stacked stone retaining walls on both sides of our house. The flat tops make great sunning areas for the lizards and the cracks make perfect hide holes for them.

  • Reply
    August 7, 2012 at 10:14 am

    I ain’t never seen one like that.
    We only have those with the blue
    tail that just worry my little
    dogs till they catch him. Usually
    they like to live under a plank.
    Now in the branch we have a brown
    lizzard with a blue belly and they
    are the best for bass fishing, got
    a lot of action. Those you have
    must have something to do with
    the red clay…Ken

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    August 7, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Tipper: We ‘seem’ to have only the Skinks (Blue tail) critters all over our backyard, patio, deck, rain gutters and elsewhere! When they get in the covered gutter, it is an eerie sound! Our third grandson use to try to catch them – but never did – THANK HEAVENS! He loves these critters and has had a FAT TAIL lizard in his bedroom for many years – WHICH I HAVE TO WATER/FEED when he is away on vacation!
    Cheers, Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Tim Cuthbertson
    August 7, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Yes Tipper, that is a small Eastern Fence Lizard, also known as a Swift Lizard – they are very fast runners. They are closely related to the horned toads of the west. I have seen them on the retaining wall at my house. One time I saw one on the top of the wall and trued to move close to it for a better look. I saw it take off, then it was gone. I looked around and saw it about 10 feet up the side of my house, which was about 10 feet away horizontally, too. It seemed to have moved about 20 feet in a split second!

  • Reply
    August 7, 2012 at 9:29 am

    My grandson loves to come to my house and chase lizards. He usually catches a few and just has to show me (up close and personal)! I don’t know what they are called, but we have those like Chatter’s friend and plenty colorful ones that tend to run all over the porches and up the outside walls. Yuk! Maybe I can use them for fishing bait:)

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    August 7, 2012 at 9:21 am

    I have a herd of chameleons that live in my flower beds. No pesticides and the beds are bug free. There is an equally numerous herd of Geckos that live in the house.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 7, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Ain’t them the same lizards that will sacrifice their tail to a predator then grow it back?

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 7, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Oh! I forgot the railroad trestle over the Catawba River. It don’t get much railroad traffic any more. Maybe we should blow it up to keep them Northern invaders from Caldwell from using it.

  • Reply
    August 7, 2012 at 9:11 am

    we had one that was kinda tame,and could handfeed it and sometimes it would come in the backdoor and look around then go back outside.I always liked them.

  • Reply
    August 7, 2012 at 9:06 am

    We have some that look very similar and they redide under the eves of our house…they keep the spiders down, so I let them stay…ugly, though!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 7, 2012 at 8:51 am

    I’ve seen a few lizards here but not like you all have in Brasstown. There is something there that provides a very good habitat for them.
    I don’t think your girls will ever outgrow their love for catching

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    August 7, 2012 at 8:46 am

    We don’t have your lizard, but we have LOTS of others. We have a lizard that changes colors that is incorrectly called a chameleon, but the correct name is anole. We also have a big lizard called a skink and a curlytailed lizard that is also large (about 8 or 9 inches long with a thick body). Down here in South Florida we are being taken over by escaped or released pet iguanas that thrive in this tropical climate. Some of them are 3 feet long!! Haven’t seen any of them in my neighborhood, but they are getting more and more common.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    August 7, 2012 at 8:40 am

    I don’t see the brown fence lizards since I moved from the mountains of North Georgia to the piedmont region of Middle Georgia near the “Fall Line”–Milledgeville, this historic old capitol of Georgia. But I do have a little “green pet” who likes to slither onto my deck and seems to detect that I’m behind the French doors’ glass drinking my morning coffee! I think he wants some, but so far I’ve been selfish and haven’t shared it with him! I think of the Geiko ad each time I see the little critter.

  • Reply
    August 7, 2012 at 8:23 am

    We have these cute little fence lizards here in Florida too. Did you know the males have blue patches on their bellies!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    August 7, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Yes, we have them, ugly things. I follow the don’t bother me and I won’t bother you rule with them.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 7, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Over here in Burke County we seem to have those same lizards but not nearly in the numbers Caldwell County seems to have. I have never seen them in groups, in fact I don’t think I’ve seen more that two at a time. Caldwell and Burke are separated by the Catawba River which, I suppose, keeps the species from intermingling. I don’t go to Caldwell County any more than I have to, for fear of being attacked by the homo sapient population. Now I guess I need to look out for herds of Sceloporus Undalatus! Or is it flocks or packs?
    I think I will call the Burke County Sheriff to see if he can post deputies at Huffman, Castle and Rhodhiss bridges and a squad at the 321 bridge to turn them back if they try to cross.
    I sure hope they don’t learn to swim. I would hate to see them over here flexing for our females.

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    August 7, 2012 at 7:43 am

    Hi, Tipper. Yes we have those here. They live around the steps of our porch as well as blue-tail skinks. I don’t mind them as long as they don’t get on me!!

  • Reply
    B F
    August 7, 2012 at 7:16 am

    lets dont go there ……… they scare me to death ,i,d almost as soon have a snake around as a lizard , we have had brown ones,reddish ones , blue striped name it
    one got in the house and all i seen was a little blue tail go into the closet , needless to say i didnt waste any time clearing the b/room , never saw it again ,now i,ve offered to share or trade some with the neighbors…………..but would you believe ? no takers

  • Reply
    August 7, 2012 at 6:40 am

    Stephen-I forgot to mention the push ups-so I’m glad you did! And yes she wanted to keep it as a pet-but she let it go on the back deck : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    August 7, 2012 at 6:25 am

    O yea, we have at least 3 different kinds in our area. The Fence Lizard, 5 line Skinks,(my dad use to call these streak fields) and Green Anoles. The house we use to live in, if you ever left the back door open Skinks would come in under the storm door and make their self at home, one morning I got up to go to work and reached up to turn the window air-conditioner off and a fence lizard was perched on the unit looking at me, I don’t like sharing our bedroom with a lizard..

  • Reply
    Stephen Ammons
    August 7, 2012 at 5:00 am

    We have the same lizards here in Caldwell County. I looked them up and and they are called Eastern fence lizards. They are also called Prairie lizards,Fence Swifts,or Gray Lizards. The scientific name is Sceloporus Undalatus . If you are really bored and take they time to watch them ,the males of the group will sprint a short distance and stop and do pushups. The article I was reading about them said they are trying to impress the females with a show of strength and telling the males to get out of their territory.
    I am curious about one thing. Did Chatter scream and panic when she saw it on her leg or did she want to keep it as a pet? I am guessing she wanted to keep it. Have a great day.

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