13 Lizards That Live in Trees (With Pictures)

Lizards that live in trees, also known as arboreal lizards, are a diverse group of reptiles. These lizards live in different trees and have claws and scales on their feet, allowing them to climb and hang from branches. Numerous species of arboreal lizards have dark, gray, or green colors to match the trees they’re on and help them blend in when danger approaches. Each species has its own distinct characteristics, and we’ll learn about some of them in this article.

13 Lizards that live in trees

Here’s a list of 13 lizards that can be found on trees, along with some information about them:

1. Green Anole

Green anole lizard on plant
Green anole lizard on plant | image by Paul Balfe via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Anolis carolinensis

Green Anoles are small lizards native to North America. They’re most commonly found in subtropical climates such as Florida, Texas, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Their bodies are green or brown and can change colors.

Green anoles are also known as American chameleons because of this ability, but they’re not true chameleons but are more related to iguanas. These anoles live in trees and are frequently seen basking on their branches.

These animals eat spiders as well as insects like ants, termites, and butterflies. They also obtain their water from the dew on the leaves.

2. Madagascar Day Gecko

Madagascar day gecko on a log
Madagascar day gecko on a log | image by GorissM via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Phelsuma madagascariensis

The Madagascar day geckos are the largest species of gecko, reaching lengths of up to 9 inches. It has light green skin with bluish-green scales. You will also notice a red color that runs from their nostril to the back of their ear.

This species is native to Madagascar’s eastern coast and has been introduced to Florida. It’s found in rainforests and agricultural areas, where it lives on trees and feeds on arthropods.

The animal also occasionally consumes tree nectars and fruits. This species can live up to 15 years in captivity but only less than six years in the wild.

3. Green Basilisk

Green basilisk on a tree branch
Green basilisk on a tree branch | image by cuatrok77 via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Basiliscus plumifrons

The Green Basilisk is a lizard species found in Mexico and Columbia, typically in rainforests near running streams of water. This lizard species lives on trees and can stay in water for up to 30 minutes, making it unique from others. When threatened, green basilisks have an excellent escape strategy.

It has the ability to climb trees, swim, and even run on water. Because of its ability to run on water, this animal is also known as the Jesus Christ lizard. This is possible due to their speed and the air pockets created at the bottom of their feet.

4. Satanic Leaf-Tailed Gecko

Satanic leaf-tailed gecko on a tree branch
Satanic leaf-tailed gecko on a tree branch | image by Frank Vassen via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Uroplatus phantasticus

The Satanic Leaf-Tailed Gecko is a gecko species native to Madagascar. They can grow up to 3 inches long and have a tail that looks like a decaying leaf, which helps the animal blend in with its surroundings.

These lizards spend the night hunting for food, such as insects and other small invertebrates, because they’re nocturnal animals. You will see them living in trees and usually disguise themselves as dried leaves to avoid predators.

In addition to hiding among the trees, they also flatten their bodies on leaf piles on the ground or scream while exposing their red mouth interior to frighten away potential predators.

5. Frilled Lizard

Frilled lizard in toronto zoo
Frilled lizard in toronto zoo | image by Laura Wolf via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Chlamydosaurus kingii

The frilled lizard is a type of reptile found in Australia and Papua New Guinea. A large frill that rises when the animal is threatened makes them one of the most unusual creatures in the entire world.

These lizards can reach 33 inches in length and have grey-brown bodies with pink and yellow tongues. Frilled lizards are arboreal and can be found on tree trunks and limbs. They eat small invertebrates and even small mammals found on the ground while hunting.

6. Tree Lizard

Tree lizard on a trunk
Tree lizard on a trunk | image by Patrick Alexander via Flickr

Scientific Name: Urosaurus ornatus

The tree lizard is a small, tree-dwelling animal native to the southwestern United States, ranging from California to Texas and north into Mexico. When fully grown, this tree lizard is only about 2 inches long. Their bodies can be brown, black, or gray, and their tails are rusty in color.

This allows them to blend in with their surroundings while hunting, particularly on trees where they live. When threatened, they prefer to flee by climbing to the top or dropping themselves on the ground to hide under rocks, leaf litter, and small cracks.

7. Broad-Headed Skink

Broad-headed skink on a log
Broad-headed skink on a log | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Plestiodon laticeps

The broad-headed skink is a lizard that can be found throughout North America, particularly from Pennsylvania to Florida and Texas. It’s a large skink that can grow to be up to 13 inches long.

These lizards are mostly brown, with an orange or red head that becomes more vibrant during mating season. They’re arboreal creatures that inhabit wide-open forests, but they hunt and reproduce on the ground.

8. Green Iguana

Green iguana on a tree
Green iguana on a tree | image by Mike Ostrowski via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Iguana iguana

Green iguanas are arboreal lizards that spend their time climbing and sitting on tree branches, feeding on plant leaves and fruits, as well as small invertebrates. They’re native to Central America’s rainforest and have been introduced to Florida and Hawaii.

These creatures can grow to be 5 feet long and weigh up to 15 pounds. They have a lifespan of up to 8 years in the wild and 20 years in captivity with the right care. When threatened, these animals will camouflage among the trees or even shed a portion of their tail to confuse and escape predators.

9. Western long-tailed brush lizard

Western long-tailed brush lizard
Western long-tailed brush lizard | image by nmoorhatch via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 4.0

Scientific Name: Urosaurus graciosus

The Western long-tailed brush lizard is a small lizard found in the southwest United States and Mexico. It’s frequently misidentified as a snake due to its thin and long tail, which is twice as long as its body. They can reach a length of 2 inches and have brownish or grayish coloring with dark crossbars on their back.

These lizards primarily consume insects, but they will occasionally consume plant parts. They live in desert areas surrounded by bushes and trees like smoke trees and mesquite.

10. Central Bearded Dragon

Central bearded dragon on a trunk
Central bearded dragon on a trunk | image by Will Brown via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Pogona vitticeps

Central bearded dragons are found in eastern and central Australia and have been known to live in captivity for up to 15 years. They can grow to be anywhere between 13 and 24 inches long, including the tail. The Central bearded dragon is so-called because of its distinctive beard, which it uses for communication and defense.

These omnivorous reptiles consume both plants and small animals. Central bearded dragons are semi-arboreal creatures that enjoy spending the daytime basking in the sun on fence posts and tree branches.

11. Flying Lizard

Flying lizard on a log
Flying lizard on a log | image by Charles J. Sharp via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Scientific Name: Draco volans

Flying lizards are only found in Asia, specifically the Philippines and Indonesia. They live in trees and can jump between branches, hence their name. Their skin is brown, with a fold on their neck that’s yellow in males and bluish gray in females.

As insectivores, termites and ants make up the majority of their diet. These flying lizards can be seen gliding from one tree to another, which they do solely for locomotion. If predators are nearby, these animals prefer to climb to the top.

12. Mexican alligator lizard

Arboreal alligator lizard on plants
Arboreal alligator lizard on plants | image by Derek Ramsey via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 2.5

Scientific Name: Abronia graminea

Mexican alligator lizards are a lizard species native to Mexico. They’re omnivorous reptiles that eat insects and small spiders and have been observed living in trees. Mexican alligator lizards can reach a length of 6 inches and have a vibrant green color.

They have strong limbs for climbing trees and can live in captivity for up to ten years. These animals reach sexual maturity at three years of age and are viviparous, meaning they give birth to live offspring rather than eggs.

13. Jackson’s chameleon

Jackson’s chameleon on twigs
Jackson’s chameleon on twigs | image by Scot Nelson via Flickr

Scientific Name: Trioceros jacksonii

The Jackson’s chameleon is a tree-dwelling lizard native to Africa’s tropical forests and has been introduced to California, Hawaii, Texas, and Florida. Male adults are distinguished by three brown horns that females lack. Green is the color of both males and females, but it can change depending on the mood, temperature, and health.

Males are larger than females and can grow to be 10 inches long. They’re popular pets in North America and can live for up to ten years if cared for properly.