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South Dakota Lizards

Image of a Lesser or Northern Earless Lizard moving from one log to another.

Lesser or Northern Earless Lizard

(Holbrookia m. maculata)

Lesser earless lizards have no external ear openings, which may be an adaptation to this lizard's practice of burrowing headfirst into sand. They can usually be found in a narrow band along extreme southern South Dakota in sandhills, sandy, or gravel-covered areas along streams, as well as plains, and grassland offering an abundance of open space.

Image of a Eastern Short-horned Lizard resting on top of pebbles.

Eastern Short-horned Lizard

(Phrynosoma douglasi brevirostre)

Short-horned lizards are relatively flat, round lizards with short, stubby horns above the eyes and around the back of the head, and have many small, triangular fringes along the sides of the body. When disturbed by predators, horned lizards occasionally squirt blood from the eyes for distances of up to 2-3 feet. Although it is rare to spot one in South Dakota, there is a population of these lizards in southwestern South Dakota and another in the northwestern part of the state.

Image of a Northern Sagebrush Lizard perched on top of rocks.

Northern Sagebrush Lizard

(Sceloporus g. graciosus)

Named after the sagebrush plants near where it is commonly found, the Sagebrush Lizard is an easily frightened animal that seeks shelter when large animals approach. Due to their skittish nature, these lizards do not typically interact with humans. They are rare in South Dakota but can be found in a small range in the western and southern Black Hills.

An image of a Northern Prairie Lizard sitting on top of a boulder.

Northern Prairie Lizard

(Sceloporus undulatus garmani)

The Northern Prairie Lizard is a medium-sized lizard found along forest edges, rock piles, and rotting logs or stumps. They are sometimes called the Eastern Fence Lizard or Gray Lizard. They can be found in a narrow band along south-central South Dakota.

Image of a Northern Many-lined Skink on top of a large rock.

Northern Many-lined Skink

(Eumeces m. multivirgatus)

The Northern Many-lined Skink is a skinny long-bodied lizard. As its name implies, most many-lined skinks have dark and light stripes that run lengthwise down the body and tail. The Northern Many-lined Skink can be found in many types of habitat, but the species prefers moist areas and areas near water. They have a narrow range in southwest and lower central South Dakota.

Image of a Northern Prairie Skink beginning to crawl onto a log.

Northern Prairie Skink

(Eumeces septentrionalis)

Found in extreme eastern South Dakota, these small lizards are brown or tan on the back and darker on the sides and have several thin lighter stripes along the sides and the back. They are very secretive and are rarely seen in the open except during their breeding season in spring.

Image of a Prairie Six-lined Racerunner blending in with pine needles, grass, and rocks.

Prairie Six-lined Racerunner

(Cnemidophorus sexlineatus viridis)

This lizard is named for the six light stripes that run along the sides of its body. The color of the stripes ranges in color from pale blue, grey, white or yellow. Females have white bellies, and males have blue. They can be found in southwest and lower central South Dakota and one miniscule range in the extreme southeast part of the state.

Image of the Sky Dome from the outside surrounded by beautiful gardens.

Visit our Sky Dome and experience free-roaming lizards, birds, turtles and a few friendly snakes on the main level.  Head to the upper level to check out the collection of some of the world’s deadliest snakes.  The lower level of the Sky Dome contains Maniac, our giant crocodile and other crocodilians, our collection of frogs & toads , bugs, and salamander.

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About Us

Sky Dome

Step inside the Sky Dome to experience a warm tropical climate while exploring our indoor jungle filled with exotic and unique flora and fauna. 

Rattlesnake Gulch

Try your hand at gemstone sluicing or go on a 3D safari. Our very own old west ghost town as numerous photo opportunities and activities to keep the kids entertained.

Cheyenne's Habitat

Cheyenne the bald eagle has been a permanent resident of Reptile Gardens for 11 years with permission of the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Maniac's habitat

Maniac is our resident giant saltwater crocodile. At over 16 feet long and1,350pounds, he is one of the largest giant crocodiles in the western hemisphere. If you don't see him at his enclosure inside the SkyDome, make sure to check outside!

Prairie Dog Town

Get down to eye-level with these fuzzy little animals and see firsthand what life is like in a typical prairie dog town!

Methuselah's Playground

Methuselah was a giant Galapagos Tortoise weighing in at over 600 pounds, and a long time resident of Reptile Gardens. His memory lives on at this playground featuring a bronze statue of Methuselah himself. 

Snake Show stage

Get up-close-and-personal with our snake ambassadors in this family-friendly snake handling show.

Gator Show stage

Dozens of Alligators, Crocodiles, and Caimans and one keeper...what could go wrong? Separate fact from fiction in this educational, family-friendly show and get a chance to pet Fluffy, our baby gator!

Bird Show stage

Interact with birds from around the world at the Bird Show, where they love to show off their beauty and intelligence. 

Gift Shop

Carrying a wide variety of Reptile Gardens souvenirs as well as educational books for every age and a variety of stunning rocks, minerals, and fossils from all over the world.

Green Parrot Cafe

Hungry? Refuel with buffalo burgers, The Maniac burger, Black Mamba Shakes, Indian Tacos, and more!

Giant Tortoise

Don't miss this photo opportunity! Get up-close and personal with these friendly giants who love to have their neck scratched and are great with kids. 

Tortuga Falls

Take a stroll through this meditative garden, gaze into our turtle and koi pond, listen to the waterfalls, and don't miss Darwin the Kookaburra! 

Walking Garden

We're about more than just Reptiles! Our outdoor gardens are beauty to be seen as they change throughout the season and year after year. 

Living Wall

This vertical garden is a wall of color that grows and changes through the Summer season creating striking patterns and unique portraits as it grows. 

Pet A Python

Don't miss your chance to Pet a Python!  Our snake handlers ar here to talk about any questions or myths you've heard about snakes. Don't forget your camera! Our pythons are very photogenic and love to photos with you!