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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.



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

Breeding:
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.