Glass snake or Glass lizard

  • The glass snake is a legless lizard whose tail is nearly two-thirds of its total length. It is found in the central and southern United States and is related to the "blindworm," Anguis fragilis, of Europe.
  • The absence of legs and the snakelike form of this lizard, Ophisaurus ventralis, have given rise to a misbelief strongly fixed in unnatural snake lore. As with lizards generally, the tail is brittle, easily broken, and capable of regeneration. This has fostered the "joint-snake" story in which it is said that the animal breaks into a number of pieces when struck or caught and later fits them together again as before.
  • Although most species have no legs, their head shape and the fact that they have movable eyelids and external ear openings identify them as lizards.
  • What actually happens is that the tail breaks, perhaps in several places, and the important part of the animal escapes, leaving the wriggling pieces to occupy the attention of the attacker. A new tail is grown by regeneration but the new portion is different from the original. A regenerated tail-tip sometimes resembles a spine or "horn" and henee gives a non-factual basis for the stories about snakes with horns or "stingers" on their tails.
  • Glass snakes sometimes reach an unusual length of 4 feet (1.2 m), but seldom is one found with a perfect tail.
  • Characteristics of true lizards are found in internal structures and in the presence of eyelids and external ear openings, which are lacking in snakes.
  • The glass snakes spend most of their time under cover and are sometimes plowed out of the ground. Probably they are nocturnal, for rarely have they been seen resting in the open.
  • Food consists of insects, spiders and small snails.
  • Eight to seventeen eggs are laid underground and brooded by the female.