Burton's Legless Lizard

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Matt Clancy

Species group:

Other common names: Burton’s Snake Lizard

Scientific name: Lialis burtonis

The basics:
Burton’s Legless Lizards are common all over Australia and New Guinea. Their habitats include dry forests, desert sand flats and ridges, as well as woodlands and rain forest periphery.

Appearance / health:
The largest among the legless lizards, the Burton Legless Lizard matures to about 2 feet in length. The base body color is often brownish gray, sometimes cream or black. In some individuals, markings like spots and stripes are seen. It has a long pointed head with no neck. Two tiny triangular flaps can be seen on its sides. The tail is cylindrical in shape.

The snout is sharp and wedge-shaped; the tongue is flat (not forked) and fleshy, differentiating it from a snake’s. Also unlike the snake, it has external ears. But similar to the snake, the Burton’s Legless Lizard can unhinge its jaw to devour large prey.

Behavior / temperament:
Burton’s Legless Lizards are diurnal. They are sometimes seen foraging at night. They hide under leaf litter and logs, and crawl into abandoned holes and burrows.

Burton’s Legless Lizards are voracious predators that feed on insects, other lizards, and small snakes.

Like other legless lizards, Burton’s Legless Lizards are egg-layers. They mate in the spring and lay 2-3 eggs per clutch in midsummer.

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