European Glass Lizard

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European Glass Lizard


Southeast Europe; Yugoslavia, Greece to Black Sea region, east to south west Asia


The glass lizard lives in fields among heaps of stones or in bare rocky places


It is a snake-like lizard with a heavy body. It has no forelimbs, but has vestiges of hind legs on either side of a cloacal vent. The body is rather stiff with a bony layer under the smooth scales. Grooves of flexible scales on each side allow the body to expand. It has a flat, forked tongue.

European Glass Lizard

It does not climb trees and avoids water. Its habit is to hide under leaves or burrows under light sandy soil. The glass lizard is diurnal.


The male becomes aggressive and competitive during the breeding season. There is a fierce rivalry for mates. The female lays between five and ten one-inch long eggs under moss or dead leaves, which takes approximately one month to hatch. The new lizard is about five inches long, with color of ashen gray with dark spots and bands along the back, and with dark vertical stripes on the sides of the head. It takes several years for the lizard to reach maturity.

Interesting Facts:

Two-thirds of the glass lizard length is made up of its tail. It is popular with farmers since it eats snails and slugs and even catches mice. Glass lizards are named for their reputation of breaking into pieces when struck with a stick. The legend continues that the pieces later reassemble and the lizard is no worse for its adventure.

European Glass Lizard
European Glass Lizard
Class: reptiles
Genus: Ophiosaurus
Species: apodus
Length: 4-5 feet
Average Lifespan: 30
Wild Diet: Insects, especially grasshoppers. Sometimes it eats snails, mice, lizards, fledgling birds, and eggs of snakes and birds.
USFWS Status: Not Listed
CITES Status: Not Listed
Where at the Zoo? Small Animal Building: Temperate Zone

Learn more about reptiles or animals from Europe & Asia!
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