Definitions

Moroccan Glass Lizard

Glass lizard

The glass lizards or glass snakes, genus Ophisaurus, are a group of reptiles that resemble snakes, but are actually lizards. Although most species have no legs, their head shape and the fact that they have movable eyelids and external ear openings make it obvious that they are lizards. A few species have very small stub-like legs near the rear vent. These animals are also known as Glass Snakes or Jointed Snakes. They reach lengths of up to , but approximately two-thirds of this is the tail. Glass lizards feed mainly on insects.

Their common name comes from the fact that they are easily broken: like many lizards, they have the ability to deter predation by dropping off part of the tail which can break into several pieces, like glass. The tail remains mobile, while the lizard becomes motionless, distracting the predator, and allowing eventual escape. This serious loss of body mass requires a considerable effort to replace, and the new tail is usually smaller in size than the original.

The greatest number of species in the genus are native to Asia, from India to China and the Indonesian islands. At least one species, the Moroccan glass lizard, comes from North Africa, and several species live in the south-eastern United States including the barrier islands off the Atlantic coast of Florida.

Classification

Genus Ophisaurus

See also: Slowworm

glass lizards rule

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