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Saturday, 20 August 2011

Lizards That Gave Up The Pedestrian Way Of Life, Prefering To Crawl Like Snakes

The Scheltopusik or European Legless Lizards (Pseudopus apodus) belong to a family of lizards that have given up the pedestrian way of life, preferring as an alternative to crawl around on their bellies in the manner of snakes. In fact, having lost their legs almost entirely, glass lizards are often mistaken for snakes. Nevertheless, they can be easily distinguished from snakes due to their ears (holes that are present on each side of the head), eyelids, and ventral scales.

The European glass lizard has a tan coloration, paler on the ventral surface and head, with a lateral fold of skin that runs down each side of the body, but not the tail. More than half of a glass lizard´s body is made up of tail. Like other lizards, this species is able to shed its tail when threatened - a process called autotomy. However unlike those of other lizards, the tail then breaks up into lots of small pieces, as though it were shattering like glass (hence the name glass lizard), leading to the myth that the lizard can shatter like glass and reassemble itself later. In reality, if the tail is lost, it grows back slowly, but is shorter and darker. Fortunately the European glass lizard does not readily drop its tail.

European glass lizards are found from southern Europe to central Asia, inhabiting open country such as grassland or woodland. Glass lizards eat grasshoppers, spiders, crickets, and other invertebrates.

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