Sunday, October 26, 2008

Glass In My Eyes

I saw another little rat snake this week.

So when I was gardening and something long and slender caught my eye, I thought, "Not again! Not another snake!" and that turned out to be true. The pretty-patterned reptile was actually a glass lizard, sometimes called a glass snake, though.


One difference between snakes and lizards is that lizards have moveable eyelids. You can see the eyelid below.


This is an Eastern Slender Glass Lizard, Ophisaurus attenuatus longicaudus. What a great (Latin) name! They can grow to 42 inches! I guess that is the "long" part in his name. The "glass" in the glass lizard name comes from its curious ability to break off its tail when grabbed by a predator. The tail then shatters like glass into many pieces.

This one was tucked down in a Cherokee rose that is about as thorny as a rose can be, but apparently the scales provide protection. I never saw all of it but I would be very surprised if it was more than about 20 inches long.


I read that each tiny scale on the top and bottom of the critter has a little bone in it which makes the lizard very stiff. In fact, since it has no legs, it could not move at all without the lateral groove that runs its length on the sides. The groove has flexible scales. In the picture above, I think you can see this beginning at the head as a softer looking area where the pattern also is less distinct.

1 comment:

Kimberlee said...

Well, THAT is completely amazing! I had no idea there was such a thing as a lizard with no legs! Now you've got me curious for more! Thanks for pointing me toward this post. The photos are great!