Glass Lizard - Glass Snake - Legless Lizard
With an overview of care for Ophiosaurus
©1997 Melissa Kaplan
To those not familiar with them, glass lizards in the genus Ophiosaurus (literally, snake [ophio-] -lizard [saurus]) look rather like a snake with ears and blinking eyes. Careful inspection of the vent area in some species will show tiny spurs, similar to a boa or python. Related to the alligator lizards (Gerrhonotus), their head and body shape are reminiscent of those species, including the conical teeth and lateral fold. They are very un-snakelike when held, being firm in the body like an alligator lizard or large skink, rather than the softly supple body associated with snakes.
Legless lizards are found in the Old and New Worlds, ranging in areas of Indonesia, southern Asia, the Near East, southeastern Europe, North Africa, and North America. The European and American legless lizards are in the family Anguidae, Anniellidae, and Xenosauridae; the Australasian ones in the family Pygopodidae. Some of the Anguidae legless lizards are called lateral fold lizards due to the pronounced lateral fold that runs down each side. Other genuses, such as the Gerrhonotus and Elgaria, are legged lizards.
The fifteen Ophiosaurus species live in stony steppes and damp forests. Their common name, glass lizard or glass snake, is due to their ability, like many lizards, of dropping their tail. To 50 inches (120 cm). The adults are rather plainly colored, primarily shades of brown or green. Juveniles have more contrasting markings.
Temperatures range from 70-85 F (21-29 C), with a nightly reduction of 5-10 degrees. UVB is not required but some exposure to unfiltered sunlight is beneficial.
Species (Glass Lizards and Alligator Lizards; Lateral Fold Lizards)
attenatus Slender Glass Lizard
koellikeri Koelliker's Glass Lizard
ventralis Eastern Glass Lizard
TIGR Reptile Database: Pygopodidae (Australasian); Anniellidae (American); Anguidae (Other Legless, Lateral Fold and Alligator Lizards)
Mattison, Chris 1992. The Care of Reptiles and Amphibians In Captivity. Blandford Press, London. 306 p.
Obst, F.J., Richter, Dr. K., Jacob, Dr. U. 1988. The Completely Illustrated Atlas of Reptiles and Amphibians for the Terrarium. TFH Publications, Neptune City, NJ. 815 p.
Stebbins, Robert C. 1985. Peterson Field Guides: Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, MA. 322 p.
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