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Slender Glass Lizard Ophisaurus attenuatus

The only legless lizard in TN occurs across the state, except for the northwest and northeast portions. Only one subspecies, Eastern Slender Glass Lizard (O. a. longicaudus), is found in TN.

Description: A long, slender, legless lizard (22.0 to 46.0 inches in length) that looks similar to a snake.   Distinguished from snakes by having movable eyelids, external ears, and small scales on the belly.   A fold of skin running along each side of the body, termed lateral groove (or fold), is distinct.   Body color is brownish or tan with narrow black stripe in the center on juveniles.   Narrow, dark, longitudinal stripes run down the sides, above and below the groove, from head to tail.   Older specimens may have light, irregular crossbands on back and tail.

Similar Species: None.

Habitat: This secretive species prefers dry, open grasslands or woodlands. Typically found in dried grass or burrows; occasionally in vacant lots and farms.

Diet: Variety of invertebrates; and small lizards, small snakes, and bird eggs.

Breeding information: Adults breed in spring. Females lay 4-19 eggs under logs or other cover during spring and summer. Females will coil around eggs to guard them until they hatch in a couple of months.

Status in Tennessee: Slender Glass Lizard is listed as “In Need of Management” by TWRA and considered rare and uncommon by Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

Fun Facts:

  • Name derived from ability to break off several pieces of tail, like shattered glass, to avoid predators.

Best places to see in Tennessee: Southern areas of TN in dry, upland fields or woods.

Slender Glass Lizard