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What is a Legless Lizard?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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A legless lizard might just be one of the most peculiar of earth’s creatures. In most cases it resembles a snake, and many might wonder why the legless lizard isn’t simply called a snake. Although in appearance, it looks like a snake, it is in fact a lizard, and still retains vestigal remnants of a pelvis and legs. It is typically shorter than a snake, and like most lizards, it will release its tail if caught by a predator.

Unlike the snake, the legless lizard family has external eyes and ears. They also have tails as long as or longer than their bodies. Their tongues are fleshy rather than narrow. They are smaller than snakes, but size variance exists in different types. Legless lizards, like many snakes, are completely harmless to humans.

Legless lizards, as the name implies, simply have no legs. They make their homes throughout the world, where to confuse the matter, they may actually be called glass snakes. Some also call certain varieties of the legless lizard a glass lizard.

One can find legless lizards in North America, Southern Europe, and Southeast Asia and in areas of Indonesia, and Australia. Some believe that the legless lizard is most closely related to the gecko in behavior and size. They tend to be brown in color, and the largest species of legless lizard are about four feet (1.22m) in length. Some of the smaller legless lizard species are just slightly over a foot (30.48 cm) long.

Many legless lizard species make their homes by burrowing. They are considered oviparous, eating primarily eggs or other animals, and insects. Some of the larger legless lizard species may also hunt and eat small mammals.

One of the best ways to tell if you in fact are viewing a legless lizard is to watch the eyes. If you notice the animal blinking than you have found this unusual species. If you don’t see protruding eyes, you’ve very likely found a snake, and should observe it with due caution.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a All Things Nature contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon8060 — On Feb 06, 2008

Genetic analysis and anatomical studies both indicate that they evolved from lizards with legs. If you dissect these critters, they have vestigial pelvic and pectoral girdles, clear indicators that at one point their ancestors had legs!

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a All Things Nature contributor, Tricia...
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