Slender glass lizard

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

The slender glass lizard, (Ophisaurus attenuatus) is a legless lizard which can attain a length of up to 1 metre. Two subspecies are recognised.


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


Slender glass lizards have yellow to brown bodies with six stripes and lateral grooves. Unlike snakes, they have eyelids and ears.

Geographic distribution[edit]

This glass lizard is mainly found in the eastern half of the United States, from as far north as Wisconsin across 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.


They 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 in length. Sexual maturity is attained at two or three years of age.

Conservation status[edit]

Although not endangered overall in the US, it 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.