Legless Lizard (Ophisaurus apodus)

 

 

The legless lizard (or European legless lizard) can be found from the Balkans as far as Istria (peninsula in northeastern Italy) and northeast Bulgaria. They are also found in Crimea, Caucasus and parts of southwest and central Asia.   They seek fairly dry habitats, often frequenting rocky hillsides with some cover. These lizards can also be found in dry stone walls, embankments and stone piles. They are diurnal and crepuscular, and are often active after rainfall.

These lizards are the largest lizard of its family, its average length (including tail) being 2-3 feet.

Legless lizards may look like snakes, but they are true lizards. Unlike snakes, they have movable eyelids, several rows of belly scales, and the ability to break off their tail when they are in danger. Although many members of this family lack limbs, this is not a characteristic of every species, some have tiny little legs. While the family contains both limbless and limbed lizards, the skull, teeth and tongue of these species are anatomically similar.   When alarmed or when being pursued by a predator, this lizard will shed its tail which can break into many pieces confusing it\’s predator…the tail will regenerate over time.

Equipped with powerful jaws, broad and blunt teeth, the legless lizard hunts its favorite food, hard-shelled snails.   It also feeds on a variety of small mammals, bird eggs and invertebrates such as insects and earthworms.

Females find a damp site where they deposit six to ten white, soft-shelled eggs. Females usually guard their eggs during the incubation period. The young hatch after about six weeks, and measure about 3-6 inches in length. Once born, the female leaves her young, requiring them to hunt on their own.

 

Information courtesy of kaweahoaks.com/html/lizard_legless.htm

Photo courtesy arcindrus.deviant art.com