Slender glass lizard

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Slender glass lizard
Slender Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus attenuatus).jpg
Slender glass lizard, Ophisaurus attenuatus
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Anguidae
Genus: Ophisaurus
Species: O. attenuatus
Binomial name
Ophisaurus attenuatus
Baird in Cope, 1880
Ophisaurus attenuatus distribution.png
  • Ophisaurus ventralis attenuatus
    Baird in Cope, 1880
  • Ophisaurus attenuatus
    Boulenger, 1885

The slender glass lizard (Ophisaurus attenuatus) is a legless lizard in the family Anguidae. The species is endemic to the United States. Two subspecies are recognised.


  • Western slender glass lizard, O. a. attenuatus Baird in Cope, 1880
  • Eastern slender glass lizard, O. a. longicaudus McConkey, 1952


Slender glass lizards have yellow to brown bodies with six stripes, and they have two lateral grooves (one on each side). Unlike snakes, they have eyelids and ears. O. attenuatus can attain a total length (including tail) of up to 1 meter (about 40 inches).

Geographic distribution[edit]

O. attenuatus is found in the United States, from as far north as Wisconsin, east to Virginia, south to Florida, and west to Texas, in grasslands or open woodlands.


Slender glass lizards are diurnal, so they are quite often seen, but they can move fast (with a serpentine movement like that of a snake). If captured, a specimen may thrash vigorously, causing part of the tail to fall off in one or more pieces. While a potential predator is distracted by the wiggling tail, the lizard quickly escapes. They sleep in burrows borrowed from other animals, and in the northern reaches of their range, slender glass lizards will use those burrows to hibernate through the winter.


Slender glass lizards eat a range of insects, such as grasshoppers, crickets and beetles, and will also consume spiders, small mice, snails, and the eggs of other reptiles and ground-nesting birds. Unlike snakes, glass lizards do not have flexible jaws, and this limits the size of prey items they can consume. They forage both above ground and underground in burrows.


Mating typically occurs biannually, in mid-spring. The female lays and broods a clutch averaging 12 eggs in June or July. Eggs hatch 50–60 days after being laid. Hatchlings are 10–13 cm (3.9–5.1 in) long. Sexual maturity is attained at two or three years of age.

Conservation status[edit]

Although not endangered overall in the US, O. attenuatus is regarded as vulnerable or endangered in some states. Its primary threats are loss of habitat, and the fragmentation of what remains, by human development.


  1. ^ Baird SF (1880). In: Cope ED (1880). "On the Zoölogical Position of Texas". Bulletin of the United States National Museum (17): 1-51. (Ophisaurus ventralis attenuatus, new subspecies, p. 18).
  2. ^ Boulenger GA (1885). Catalogue of the Lizards in the British Museum (Natural History). Second Edition. Volume II. ... Anguidæ ... London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers). xiii + 497 pp. + Plates I-XXIV. (Ophisaurus attenuatus, p. 282).

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Behler JL, King FW (1979). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 743 pp. ISBN 0-394-50824-6. (Ophisaurus attenuatus, pp. 543–544 + Plate 455).
  • Conant R (1975). A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. xviii + 429 pp. + Plates 1-48. ISBN 0-395-19979-4 (hardcover), ISBN 0-395-19977-8 (paperback). (Ophisaurus attenuatus, pp. 133–134 + Plate 13 + Map 97).
  • Smith HM, Brodie ED Jr (1982). Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. New York: Golden Press. 240 pp. ISBN 0-307-13666-3. (Ophisaurus attenuatus, pp. 90–91).