European Legless Lizard/European Glass Lizard/Scheltopusik

European Legless Lizard/European Glass Lizard/Scheltopusik Pseudopus apodus

Type of Animal:
Anguid Lizard

Grasslands, rounded short grass hills, grassy areas, brush steppes, sparsely wooded hills, woodlands/forests, rocky slopes, fields, gardens, dry shrubby areas, scrubby vegetation, rocky outcrops, dry rocky hillsides, Mediterranean macchia interspersed w/ pastures/olive groves, brushland, dry rocky areas, dry scrub, burrows, walls, stone piles, embankments

Ranges from S Europe to Middle East, SW, & C Asia

Tan colored, paler underbelly/head, ring-like segmented appearance, no legs, 2 tiny rudimentary rear limb remnants sometimes visible near cloaca, looks like mix of snake & giant earthworm but actually lizard-distinguishable by having ears/eyelids/ventral scales, animals in E part of range have narrower heads than those in W part

Snails, slugs, arthropods/arthropod larvae, grubs, worms, eggs, small mammals, birds, other lizards, small snakes, carrion, shrimp, greens, fruit, vegetables, berries

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos, herpetoculture, & aquariums


Additional Info:

Young: Hatchling
Group: Solitary

Male: 7.32-17.06 oz
Female: 6.46-13.72 oz

7-10 weeks 

Life Span:
20-30 years

Body Length:
Male: 2.5-3.2 ft
Female: 2.53-3.09 ft
Young: 9 in

Tail Length:
Male: 1.44-1.93 ft
Female: 1.32-1.93 ft
Young: 6 in

Main predators are raptors & carnivorous/omnivorous mammals.
Scheltopusik Russian for “yellow belly.”
Largest of Anguine lizards, also called Giant Glass Lizard & Pallas’ Glass Lizard. Sometimes called glass snakes due to resemblance to snakes.
Females lay 5-17 eggs per clutch & guard them. Once they hatch, she plays no parental role.
Sexually mature at 2 years old.
People sometimes kill them out of mistaken identity. Beneficial in that they eat pest species.
When threatened, they slither away similar to snakes more often throwing body from side to side.
They can be fairly tame in captivity & are sometimes kept as pets.
Lack of legs may be adaptation to burrowing.

Fun Fact(s):
Called glass lizards since it was once believed to shatter like glass if handled. In fact, tail shedding is last resort since tail takes long time to regrow & it regrows poorly. It prefers to twist/hiss. If that doesn’t work, it’ll bite/musk.
Some of these lizards were used as doubles for venomous asps in snake pit scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Unlike snakes, they can make sounds, sometimes squealing.
Somewhat intelligent lizards being able to recognize caretakers.
European Legless Lizard/European Glass Lizard/Scheltopusik, stock photo

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