Cooperative Extension Service


North Carolina is home to a number of species of lizards. These small non- poisonous reptiles hunt flies, spiders and other insect pests, and should be left undisturbed if found in your yard. Lizards are seen more often in the spring and summer as they search for food. Lizards live in the same type of habitat as small mammals because of the many hiding places. Lizards cause no property damage to the home or yard, but seeing a lizard may frighten some people. Lizards are even more frightened of you than you are of them. When spotted, lizards will either "freeze" immobile or move as quickly as possible in the other direction.

Lizards sometimes enter older homes through doorways with inadequate weather stripping, through small holes around plumbing and through drier vents. These shy, secretive creatures will often leave the way they came without your awareness of their presence. If you have found a lizard in your home, you need to first put it outside and secondly figure out how it got in.

Juvenile lizards less than one inch wide are the most frequent uninvited guests. These small, thin lizards can squeeze through holes as little as 1/2 inch wide. Check around your plumbing and recaulk any open spaces. Make sure your screens are tight and free of holes. Replace any worn weatherstripping around exterior doors. If you have a pet portal, keep in mind that lizards may use it for an entrance as well.

If you have cornered a lizard in your home and want to remove it safely to your yard where it belongs, take a small pot and quickly place it upside down over the lizard. (The dark enclosed area will make the lizard feel safe and you won't have to look at it or touch it.) Slide a piece of stiff cardboard under the pot (without lifting the pot up) until the pot is entirely sitting on the cardboard. The lizard is now trapped inside the pot above the cardboard. Carefully slide your hand underneath the cardboard, using your other hand to steady the pot as you lift the cardboard and pot. Carry the cardboard and pot with its trapped lizard outside away from your home. Lift the pot and the lizard will rapidly run away.

Nonlethal control measures are the most commonly practiced forms of control. Lizards can be discouraged from staying in an area by cutting off their food supply and cover. Mow closely around homes and outbuildings, and store firewood and lumber away from residences. Reduce mulch layers around shrubs to about 2 to 3 inches in depth to discourage lizards. Close cracks and crevices in buildings and around pipes and utility connections with 1/4-inch mesh hardware cloth, mortar or sheet metal. All doors and windows should have tightly fitting screens. Tall vegetation along the walls of the house should be removed. Repellents such as sulfur or mothballs have proven ineffective at keeping lizards away from residences.

Since NC lizards do not endanger humans or pets and lizards consume many hamful insects, killing lizards is not recommended.

NC Lizard Photo Gallery

Peggy Drechsler, Area Specialized Agent