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Meet the Various Legless lizards by Richard Bartlett on 2021-04-12 00:51:00


Sheltopusik may be patterned or unicolored. They are interesting lizards are are popular with herp keepers.

By Dick and Patti Bartlett

Called by many different names around the world -- glass lizards (USA), Slowworm (England and Europe), Sheltopusik (Eurasia), and Legless Lizards California, Baja, Australia) -- all are legless (or in the case of the sheltopusik essentially legless), secretive, many are burrowers, and many have fragile, easily autotomized tails.

Glass lizards (seUSA, , Eurasia, Europe, Asia) have functional eyelids, ear openings, and an expandable fold along each side of their body. These may exceed 3 feet in length and lack the suppleness of a snake. Tail readily breaks from body (autotomizes).

Sheltopusik (aka European or Giant Glass Lizard) (Balkans, Crimea, Caucasus, Southwest and Central Asia) have eyelids, ear openings, lateral grooves. The tail is less easily broken off than in most smaller species. (a fold of skin running the entire body length from behind head to but not including the tail. The latter is easily broken off). Usually about 30 inches but rarely to about 50 inches long. May bluff or bite, but they are defensive, not aggressive.

Legless lizards (Western California and Northwest Baja) have tiny eyes with functional eyelids, no ear opening, short blunt tipped tail that is barely discernible from the torso, and seldom exceed 10 inches in total length. Despite being short and thick the tail can be autotomized.

Slowworms (England, Europe) have functional eyelids, tiny ear openings, and are usually under 18 inches in length. Tail readily breaks from body.

Although a few species of the legless lizards of Australia also occur in PNG, most are endemic to Australia.

And remember, no matter how similar these may seem to snakes, they are all harmless lizards.

These interesting reptiles feed primarily on arthropods and worms.

Despite folk tales to the contrary, allow me to assure you that the autotomized tails of these lizards do not reassemble and rejoin the body. A broken tail is a broken tail and if the affected lizard again has a tail, it is a regenerated one. When fully regrown the tail is sometimes as long as the original, but always discernible by aberrant scalation or other differences.
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