eastern glass lizard

(Ophisaurus ventralis)


This rather large lizard looks more like a snake than a lizard. It has no legs and is smooth and shiny. It is the only limbless lizard in the United States with a deep groove along the sides. From the tip of the nose to the base of the tail, it can measure up to 12 in. (1,082 mm), and including the tail, up to 42.6 in. (1,083 mm). The tail, when complete, is more than twice as long as the body. The tail is fragile and often broken off at the tip. A broad tan dorsal stripe extends onto the tail. A dark stripe flecked with white occurs on each side above the lateral groove. This stripe broadens with age, and old individuals are almost completely black or greenish flecked with white. Three to seven vertical white bars bordered by black occur on the neck and head. The female coils around the eggs in the nest but does not defend the eggs as skinks do. Approximately 8-17 eggs are laid from June to August, and they take 56-61 days to hatch.


This species has been found only in Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park. It is listed as state threatened. This lizard inhabits grassy areas with sandy soils, wet meadows, forested wetlands, hammocks, and pine woods.


This lizard hunts under grass cover and under the ground for insects and their larvae, spiders, snails, small snakes, and other lizards. Grasshoppers are its primary prey.