The 9 Smallest Lizards in the World (One was just Discovered!)

Written by Emilio Brown
Published: February 3, 2022
Image Credit Kyla Metzker/Shutterstock.com
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Lizards are one of the most diverse animal groups in the world, with over 5,000 species currently discovered. They live in a variety of habitats all over the world. Living in many areas they showcase different colors, sizes, and other features to help them better survive. Size is one of the most varying traits of lizard species, with some lizards capable of being extremely small. 

The Komodo Dragon is the largest extant species of lizard, able to grow larger than 10 feet, but have you ever thought about which species are the smallest? It may surprise you to learn how small some lizards are able to grow. Here are 9 of the smallest lizard species in the world. New species are always being discovered, so smaller species may be found in the future! These lizards are also some of the smallest reptiles in the world. Let’s go over 9 lizard species that may shock you in how small they can get. 

9. Little Brown Skink 

Smallest Lizards - Brown Skink
The little brown skink is the smallest of all skinks.

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The little brown skink (Scincell lateralis)  is one of the smallest lizard species in North America and inhabits the northeastern states of the U.S. This species grows between 3 to 5.7 inches long, and they usually stay on the smaller side. This skink lives in humid forest habitats and is also semiaquatic. They enjoy loose soil and hibernate during the winter months. 

Spiders, birds, and larger lizards will prey on this small species. Ground skinks survive by eating termites, spiders, and other small insects. Skinks have long tails that drop when attacked or stressed, helpful in getting away from predators. 

 8. Bark Anole 

The bark anole is the smallest anole species, and females are smaller than males

Dr Morley Read/Shutterstock.com

The smallest species of anole is the bark anole (Anolis sagrei), with around 16 different sub-species that exist. Ranging in colors from brown to gray, they average around 5 inches long. The pattern on their skin resembles the bark of a tree and helps them camouflage. Like other anoles, males have a dewlap under their neck that distinguishes them from females. 

Bark anoles live in trees and move through the canopy. Since they are so small they eat tiny insects and invertebrates like ants, aphids, and mosquitoes. Nervous around humans, occasionally some keep them as pets. Their small size makes them vulnerable to a wide variety of predators. 

7. Yellow-Headed Day Gecko 

Day Geckos should not be handled since they are extremely delicate and can drop their tail

David Pegzlz/Shutterstock.com

Yellow-headed day geckos (Phelsuma klemmeri) are a small species found in northwestern Madagascar. They only grow to around 3.2 to 4 inches long and are a rare endangered species. Yellow heads and blue bodies give this lizard a bright colorful look. Other names for this gecko includes:

  • Klemmer’s day gecko
  • Cheerful day Gecko
  • Neon day Gecko 

These geckos are active in the day and live in bamboo forests. Invertebrates like insects and sweet fruits are what they eat. Yellow-headed geckos are kept as a pet and are captive-bred. They live up to 10 years, and pet breeding helps keep this species population alive since they are endangered in the wild. 

6.  Electric Blue Gecko 

If two male Electric blue geckos hatch, only the dominant one will have the blue coloring

iStock.com/Mauvries

The color of the Electric blue gecko (Lygodactylus williamsi) is what gives this small species its name. Adults have a bright blue or turquoise coloring, and will only grow to be around 3 inches long, including their tail. Females, as well as juveniles of this species, are green or tan colored. 

Some people may keep this small gecko as a pet, but they are much more fragile than other species. These small lizards are native to Tanzania and are critically endangered. Habitat loss has been the main cause for the decline of the electric blue gecko. 

5. Cape Dwarf Gecko

Enid Versfeld/Shutterstock.com

One of the smallest gecko species is the cape dwarf gecko (Lygodactylus capensis), belonging to the Lygodactylus genus. Around 70 species of Lygodactylus exist, and the caped dwarf gecko is just one of many. This small lizard only grows to be around 1.5 to 1.6 inches long, including its tail. Females are larger than males, a trait common in lizards so that females are able to reproduce more successfully. 

South Africa is where the range of this species is spread across, living in various habitats. While they may be hard to see, the caped dwarf gecko can be found in woodland, forests, towns, and gardens. They eat small insects and are occasionally kept as pets. 

4. Nosy Hara Leaf Chameleon

Small Nosy Hara chameleon on a rock.

The Nosy Hara leaf chameleon (Brookesia micra) is one of the smallest chameleon species in the world, growing to be around 0.63 inches. This small chameleon lives on an island near the coast of Madagascar. The nosy hara leaf chameleon was discovered in 2012 and is an example of new species that are regularly discovered. Their eyes move independently like other species of chameleon, and they can see UV light. They feed on tiny insects, using their long sticky tongues to catch insects. 

This lizard is named after the island it inhabits, called the Nosy Hara island. This species is terrestrial and lives on the forest floor.  They inhabit leaf litter and climb up trees at night. Predators of this small chameleon include frogs, birds, and small mammals. They are not able to change their colors like other chameleons but rely on their small size to hide from predators. 

3. Virgin Islands Dwarf Gecko

Male Sphaerodactylus parthenopion resting on a U.S. dime.
Male Sphaerodactylus parthenopion resting on a U.S. dime.

The Virgin Islands dwarf gecko (Sphaerodactulus partehnopion) is one of the smallest geckos on the planet. This species inhabits the British Virgin Islands, which is located in the Caribbean Sea near Puerto Rico. They live in forests, with an abundance of natural debris like rocks and logs.

The three British Virgin Islands this species lives on are:

  • Virgin Gorda
  • Tortola
  • Moskito Island

Not a lot is known about Virgin Island dwarf geckos due to their limited range, and how difficult it is to study them. They are one of the smallest geckos, only growing to be around 0.7 inches long, including their tail. Brown, with spotted skin, and a pointed snout is how this species looks. They are rarely seen, not only because of their small size but also because they enjoy hiding under leaf litter and other natural debris. 

2. Jaguar Dwarf Gecko 

The Jaguar Dwarf gecko is the smallest species of Gecko

M.R.Bobadilla / Creative Commons – License

Out of all of the gecko species, the jaguar dwarf gecko (Sphaerodactulus ariasae) is one of the smallest geckos in the world. New species are always being discovered so that may change, but currently, no other species is smaller. They grow between 0.5 to 0.7 inches long and are small enough to fit on a coin. Jaguar dwarf geckos also are extremely light, weighing only 0.13 g.

This species is believed to only live in the Jaragua National Park, found in the island’s forests. Being so small most animals larger than these lizards will prey on them. 

1. Nano Chameleon 

The nano chameleon isn’t only the smallest lizard in the world, its the smallest reptile

Frank Glaw, Jörn Köhler, Oliver Hawlitschek, Fanomezana M. Ratsoavina, Andolalao Rakotoarison, Mark D. Scherz & Miguel Vences / Creative Commons – License

The smallest lizard in the world is the nano chameleon (Brookesia nana), which was just discovered in 2021!

Easy to miss because of its small size, the nano chameleon (Brookesia nana) have a body size of around 0.5 to 0.7 inches when measuring with their tail. This lizard is so small it can comfortably fit on the tip of your finger with room to spare.

Nano chameleons are the smallest chameleons in the world, found in Northern Madagascar, and spend their lives in rainforests. These lizards are terrestrial and are thought to be so small due to consistent habitat loss. They are tan and look like miniature chameleons, but do not change colors. Nano-chameleons are currently thought to be the world’s smallest reptile and are unique chameleons.

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