The Eastern Glass Lizard, 01 October 2012

Ophisaurus ventralis, the Eastern glass lizard;
Lowndes county, Georgia (01 October 2012).

The Eastern glass lizard, Ophisaurus ventralis, is one of several “legless” lizards ranging throughout much of the American southeast. Often confused as being snakes due to their body shape and leglessness, “glass” lizards are so named due to their ability of shattering off their tails as a defensive measure.

In texture and density, the Eastern glass lizard is less agile and loose (as in “bendable”) than their serpentine cousins. They also sport external ear openings and flexible eyelids — two biological features not shared by snakes. I tend to find Eastern glass lizards out and about early in the morning, just as the day begins. By midday, they’re usually fairly well hidden, buried a bit beneath top-surface and debris.

As you might suspect, Eastern glass lizards are entirely non-venomous and pose no threat to people — though these reptiles may startle the occasional child who hazards to pick one up only to find a writhing, bleeding tail in his or her hands. Heh. In my experience, glass lizards aren’t too quick to shatter off their tales, however — if you don’t grab or hold them by their tales.

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