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Are Red Headed Lizards Poisonous? (The Reality)

If you have seen a Read-Headed lizard before (also known as a Broad-headed skink), you may have been alarmed by its Red looking head (With a hint of Orange) and share size. The question is, will it poison you?

Are red-headed lizards poisonous? No, they are not poisonous or venomous for that reason. They have a redhead to help to scare away any potential predators that may believe they are dangerous. This is taking advantage of Natures natural warning color of red.

Now that you know these Lizards are not poisonous, even though they look scary. Wouldn’t you think twice about attacking this lizard if you were a bird, and you saw its scary red-head?

Well, let me explain if there are any real venous lizards, some background about this broad-headed skink, how they defend themselves and more. Keep reading…

Are There any real poisonous or Venomous Lizards?

In reality, there are only a few really venomous Lizards (Click here to see more details these Lizards). In summary, it comes down to the Gila Monster and the Mexican Beaded Lizard.

What about Komodo Dragons?

Many people debate if Komodo Dragons (Click here for more info on Komodo Dragon) are venomous or not. My understanding is, they are not. But they are still dangerous and can cause fatal injuries.

What is a Red-Headed lizard?

The Red-Headed Lizard is commonly known as the Broad-Headed Skink. And, its scientific name is Plestiodon Laticeps. They are easily spotted, with the males having the distinctive Red & Orange head.

Their natural habitat is in the South-Eastern region of the United States. Including, Kansas, Texas and the Gulf Coast.

Are They Dangerous to other House Pets (e.g. Cats)

Red headed lizard dangerous to cats

Redheaded lizard dangerous to cats

If you have other pets around the house, such as a cat, hamster, rabbit, etc. You may be concerned/anxious about mixing them. The reality is, you are correct to be concerned because you need to tread with caution.


Although they are not venomous, there have been reports of illness in pets that have attempted to eat these lizards. So, you will need to think twice about mixing one of these red-headed bad boys around your prized kitties.

How do these Red-Headed Lizards Defend themselves?

Now that you know that these Lizards are not a serious threat. You may wonder how they actually defend themselves. Good question…

Their Predators

Firstly, let’s understand what animals are considered their predators. This includes Birds, larger reptiles (Including bigger lizards).

Defensive Tricks

Like a few other lizards, they can detach their tail, if required (Click here to see how many times a lizard can regrow its tail). If this is the first you have heard of this, it sounds gruesome, but its not a major problem for lizards. Why? Because they can grow it back.

Wriggling Confusion

Once their tail is detached, it will wriggle like a snake to confuse and distract its predator. This is just enough distraction for them to get away (hopefully).

Other Defensive Methods

Apart from this, they can actually swim to get away. Failing that they can scramble up a tree, climbing to safety. Finally, if possible, they can hide under any available debris.

Clearly, the biggest defense is their bright red head color. It is quite amazing how this color deters any potential predators.

Where do they get their name from? (Call me Big Jowls!)

The Read-head lizard (Broad-headed skink) gets its name from its big swollen looking Jowls. It develops these as it gets older, turning to an Adult.

What are Jowls?

This is a term used to describe the sagging skin below the chin/Jawline of humans. Its the same concept for lizards.

How often do Read-headed lizards Breed?

Like any lizard species, breeding is a key part of their existence. They tend to breed once a year in the summer. In particular June or July.

The female is naturally attracted to the largest red-headed lizard with a lovely bright red/orange head. As you can imagine there is always competition to get a females attention.

Territorial Males (Man-marking)

In this world, its survival of the fittest. Therefore, you can expect the males to be very protective and territorial during this time. Once a male has won over his female, he will guard her (I call this man-marking) for at least a week after.

His objective is to block any other lizard from mating with her during this time. And, he will protect her by any means. Meaning, fighting and general displays of aggression is commonplace at this time.

The number of eggs laid

The typical amount of legs laid can be anything from 8 up to a dozen. Typically they are hidden in a nest made of leaves, branches and forest debris.

The interesting thing about skinks is how their hatchlings are treated. Once they hatch out, they are left to fend for themselves. No long, drawn-out parenting from their mother. They are left to deal with the big, wild world on their own.

What kind of Food do they eat (Canabolistic Tendencies)?

Skinks eat a wide variety of food. This includes Insects, mice, spiders, etc. They are also known to eat their own kind. Yes, I did say that. They have been known to eat young juvenile skinks.

As crazy as this sounds, the reality is they are not the only lizard to do this. It seems to be a very different mentality to us humans. I can only assume they do not have a conscious as we do.


Related Questions:

In this section, I am going to answer some related questions to red-headed lizards. If you have any specific questions in your head, that you feel has not been answered, drop me a comment below.

Can lizards harm humans? Yes, some can do. In fact, the Komodo Dragon is capable of inflicting fatal damage. However, the chances of you bumping into one of these is quite low.

The common house lizard (Click here to see where House Geckos hide), on the other hand, will not do any real harm. The only danger it presents is the pathogens it has, that can contaminate food if they mix with it. But they are not venomous.

Is a Skink a Lizard? Yes, as you have probably gathered from this article. Skinks are part of the Scincidae family of lizards. It is quite vast, with over fifteen hundred species.

Are Skinks Good to have around? Yes, they are actually quite good because they attack/prey on common house pests such as mice and cockroaches. If you have a problem with these pests, they can help.

However, although they can help, they won’t completely clean up an infestation. In reality, they can only consume so much, before they are full. Also, if you plan on keeping these skinks as a pet, then allowing them to eat random house pests is not ideal.

Why? Simple, it is not possible to know what potential diseases these pests may be carrying. Which, could harm your Skink.

Do Skinks like Water? Yes, most definitely. Like any animal, this is one of their most important requirements after oxygen. However, in captivity, you need to make sure you stay on top of their water needs.

They should have a fresh supply of water, in a bowl, on a regular basis. As they have a tenancy to get debris in their water, you should get a bowl that does not easily get knocked over. This will help to prevent it from getting this debris in it.

Do Skinks Sleep? Yes, they do. In fact, recent research has proven that they have sleep cycles like us humans do. However, the big difference is the actual sleeping pattern.

If they sleep through the night, they will have much faster sleep cycles. Meaning, they will dip in and out of REM sleep much faster than we do.


Hi, this is me with my daughter and my Lizard friend. I hope you enjoy my research. Please feel free to check out my "About Me" page to find out more about me.