Don’t confuse Alabama’s legless lizards with snakes!


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – There are many different species of snakes in Alabama – and it’s important to know the differences between these and the legless lizards that inhabit the state.

According to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR), there are three species of legless lizards that live in Alabama, and based on their appearance, it could be easy to mistake them for snakes.

News 19 previously reported on the state’s venomous snakes. To see this story and how to identify snakes in Alabama, click here.

Legless lizards, sometimes known as glass lizards, are best known for their easily snappable tails which break “into one or more pieces when grasped or roughly handled”. They also have external ear openings and movable eyelids, two things that snakes lack.

Oriental glass lizard

(Getty Pictures)

Sometimes known as the “common snake,” the eastern glass lizard can grow up to 42 inches long and be green above with a yellow belly.

The species has also earned the name “horned snake” and “spiky snake” due to its regenerating tail returning in a lighter color.

In Alabama, eastern glass lizards are the most common of the three listed species. They can easily be found in the Piedmont region, as well as the Blue Ridge, Ridge, and Valley regions. There are also isolated sightings in Oklahoma and Missouri, as well as more frequent sightings in North Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana.

Eastern Slender Glass Lizard

Don't confuse Alabama's legless lizards with snakes!
(Getty Images)

Eastern slender glass lizards are listed as “uncommon to rare” in Alabama, but are most commonly found in the Fall Line hills.

According to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, they can be up to 42 inches long, tan or brown on top with dark stripes. They are most recognizable due to the dark stripes under their side groove along their sides.

Outside of Alabama, the eastern slender glass lizard is found in southeastern Virginia south to Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Louisiana.

mimic glass lizard

Don't confuse Alabama's legless lizards with snakes!
(Getty Pictures)

The ADNCR says mimic lizards are the most elusive species of legless lizards in Alabama – only three of them have been spotted in southern Alabama.

The major, and somewhat minute, identifying factor when deciding if you’ve spotted a mimic lizard is that it has 98 scales compared to 96 on the other two species found in Alabama.

Mimic lizards are often tan or brown in color with light or dark markings. They have a strip on the sides which may be weak. Their belly is usually pale.

The species is most commonly seen from North Carolina to Mississippi.


To learn more about Alabama’s legless lizards or other species found throughout the state, visit outdooralabama.com.


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