Eastern Slender Glass Lizard

Common Name - Eastern Slender Glass Lizard

Category - Reptiles

Scientific Name - Ophisaurus attenuatus longicaudus

Kingdom - Animalia

Phylum - Chordata

Class - Reptilia

Order - Squamata

Family - Anguidae

Genus - Ophisaurus

Species - attenuatus

SubSpecies - longicaudus

Description - Slender-bodied, shiny, legless lizard; external ear openings and moveable eyelids, typical of lizards; brownish-bronze background color; dark stripe down center of back, may appear as a series of dashes in young; light colored crossbands with dark borders down back; crossbands may alternate or appear irregular; groove on either side of body extending from head to base of tail; narrow, dark stripes below groove and under tail, becoming less prominent with age; underside whitish yellow; older males may develop salt and pepper appearance; tail may be twice the length of body and detaches easily

Size - 20 – 40 in. (50.8 – 101.6 cm) long; about 11 in. (27.9 cm) head and body length

Ecological Role - The slender glass lizard is a burrower and spends much time underground. It is diurnal, actively foraging for food during late afternoon and early morning. It may fall prey to hawks, raccoons, skunk, and snakes.

Fun Facts - The slender glass lizard looks remarkably like a snake since it lacks legs. Some characteristics that distinguish it as a lizard rather than a snake are the movable eyelids and external ear openings. Its secretive habits make it appear to be rarer than it probably is.

When captured, this lizard squirms forcefully to escape. It gets its common name from its ability to detach the tail when threatened, allowing it to break into several pieces that continue to wriggle. This serves to distract the predator while the lizard escapes. When the tail grows back, it is shorter and darker than the original.

To move, the slender glass lizard pushes off objects with its sides, rather than slithering on its belly like a snake. They can easily become stranded on a roadway if there is nothing to push off of for locomotion. When placed in this situation, they are very vulnerable to predators and accidents.

Food - Primarily arthropods such as spiders and insects like grasshoppers, katydids, crickets, caterpillars, and beetles; worms, snails, bird and reptile eggs, mice and other small vertebrates such as small lizards and snakes



Breeding - Spring; little is know about the breeding habits of the slender glass lizard

Eggs - 6 – 17 per clutch; oval and 0.5 – 1 in. (1.27 – 2.54 cm) long; laid June – July under cover such as logs or boards, abandoned tunnels of small mammals or in cavities between rocks; female stays with eggs; hatch in 50 – 60 days during late summer

Habitat - Primarily a burrower; occupies open grassy areas, dry rocky hillsides, open forest, oak savanna and prairies

Kentucky Distribution - Confirmed in only a few counties of Kentucky: Barren, Edmonson, Hardin, Hart, Jefferson, Larue, McCreary, Pulaski, Todd, and Whitley counties. Kentucky is the northern-most range of the eastern race of the slender glass lizard.

Life Cycle

Life Span

Life Stage


Seasonal Changes - Active May – September; hibernates in burrows September – May





Young - Approximately 5 in. (12.7 cm) long upon hatching; dark stripe down center of back may appear as a series of dashes in young; crossbands less conspicuous than in adults; dark stripes along sides more conspicuous; able to reproduce in 2 – 3 years

What We Can Do


Diagnosis and Control

Interesting Facts

Contributed By - Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

Website - http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/