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Species Description

Eastern Glass Lizard

Ophisaurus ventralis


Classification

Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata Suborder: Lacertilia
Family: Anguidae

Description

All four species of glass lizards have dark stripes on the back and sides. The basic ground colors are light brown, tan, yellowish, or blackish. Large adult Eastern Glass Lizards are sometimes greenish in color. 46 - 107 cm (18.1 - 42.1 in) in total length. Glass lizards are snake-like lizards without legs. They have moveable eyelids and external ear openings and snakes do not. The head and body generally account for only one third the total length of the lizard, while the tail makes up two-thirds the length of the animal. There is a distinct groove along each side of the body which permits expansion of the body when the lizard is distended with food or eggs. The common name of these lizards arises because they have a very long tail that breaks off more easily than that of other lizards. It may break off when the animal is captured or handly roughly. A new, shorter tail will grow in its place.

Life Cycle

Glass lizards breed in the spring, March through May. In June and July eggs are laid in slightly moist soils beneath logs, in rotten tree stumps, under grass clumps, and even in old sawdust piles. Females remain with the eggs during incubation and the young hatch in August and September.

Natural History

Glass lizards are active by day when they forage for food. The diet of glass lizards includes spiders, insects, other lizards, small frogs and toads, and baby rodents. These lizards are most active from March through November when temperatures are warm. Predators include hawks and snakes. Glass lizards inhabit dry, open woodlands, pine flatwoods, meadows, and hardwood hammocks.

Range

Eastern Glass Lizard Region Map The Eastern Glass Lizard is found in the upper and lower Coastal Plain.

Conservation Status

None of the glass lizards is currently listed as a protected species.

Similar Species

While these lizards look somewhat like snakes, the ear openings, eyelids and many rows of belly scales show them to be true lizards. Georgia's species of Glass Lizards are closely similar. Refer to a field guide if it is necessary to tell them apart from one another.