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European Legless Lizard (Glass Lizard)

European Legless Lizard

The European Legless lizard is also popular by its other name, “European Glass lizard”. This gorgeous legless lizard can fool you for its snake-looking appearance. Hence, the name “legless”. It is a favorite choice among exotic pet owners.

Quick Facts:

  • Scientific Name: Pseudopus Apodus or Ophisaurus Apodus
  • Alternate Names: Scheltopusik or European Glass lizard, Pallas’s Glass lizard
  • Family: Anguidae (family of lizards)
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Size: The average adult can grow to over 1.3 meters in length.
  • Weight: The average weight is 200 grams. But, they can grow heavy up to 400 grams.
  • Diet: They prefer invertebrates like snails but won’t say no to easy targets like smaller lizards, snakes, and rodents.
  • Distribution: It is native to Eastern Europe and Western Asia.

Some Interesting facts about the European Legless Lizard

  • It is called a legless lizard but it does have 2 small “legs” which scientists consider to be limb remnants.
  • It is nocturnal.
  • It dwells on the ground.
  • Like other reptiles, the European Legless lizard has only one body cavity (orifice) for its digestive, reproductive, and urinary system (or canals). It’s called a cloaca.
  • It has reasonable intelligence and can recognize its caretaker.
  • It can live for a long time.
  • It is the largest kind among legless lizards.
  • It is also called Scheltopusik, which in Russian means, “yellow belly”.
  • The population of the species is rapidly in decline.
  • It is an active predator that searches the ground for prey. It does not camouflage or wait in ambush.
  • It is a solitary reptile.
  • It likes to sun itself during the daytime.
  • It can drop its tail when needed. The tail grows back in a couple of months but can be energy-consuming.
  • Unlike snakes, European Legless lizards are mostly harmless. They will evade rather than engage.
  • Unlike snakes, these have ears and can hear. They can also squeal and make sounds, just like geckos.
  • The longest European Legless lizard ever measured was over 4 feet long.

What does the European Legless Lizard look like?


This lizard is tan in color but the head and underbelly part is lighter. There are 2 tiny legs or shall we say, stubs, which are positioned at the base of its tail near the cloaca.

Such are nonfunctional and they mostly slither to travel places. The species have blunt heads with very sharp and cone-shaped teeth that can crush snail shells with ease.

European Legless lizards may look and move like a snake. They are, however, not as flexible. These are fast movers, able to escape potential danger in an instant. They can swim and they can climb trees.

Where can the European Legless Lizard be found?

The natural habitat of the European Legless lizard is around the European mainland even to Central Asia.  You’ll also spot them in the Black Sea Coast, the Balkans, and the southern Crimean coast. They stay in woody areas, rocky outcrops, and scrubby vegetative spots.

What kind of habitat do the European Legless Lizards live in?

The species love to live in dry places. It tends to avoid moisture. It does not favor the rain and will only risk coming out to hunt for food. They will linger in shrubby areas and light woods for feeding grounds.

What does the European Legless Lizard eat?

Glass Lizard

Snails and slugs are a favorite among European Legless lizards. They will also eat small mammals and insects, even birds. They also hunt and consume eggs. The species is highly active between late March and late October. You’ll see them out hunting during those times. They use their noses to find their meals, smelling under leaves and burrows.

How long does the European Legless Lizard live?

Because of its hardiness, the European Legless lizard lives a long time even in captivity. Records show a survival period of 50+ years. On average, they can live up to 20 years.

How many eggs does the European Legless Lizard lay?

Sexual maturity is reached within 5 years. The males will seek females to mate then leave. Within 10 weeks of mating, the females will lay about 8 eggs on average and around the middle of June to early July. They hide their eggs in crevices. The females will stay and guard the eggs until they hatch. It takes relatively 50 days for hatchlings to arrive and they can measure up to 15 centimeters long.

What predators does the European Legless Lizard have?

European Legless lizards can fall prey to larger carnivores as well as other birds of prey.

Is it legal to have the European Legless Lizard as a pet?

Yes, it’s legal to have one as a pet and may not require a license. The population is easy to breed in captivity which is advantageous to captive breeders. You may easily find one. However, since states and countries vary in regulations, you need to confirm with your breeder if you are allowed to have one without a license in your current location. Secure necessary documentation with proper guidance.

All about the Legless Wizard


European Legless lizards are indeed fascinating creatures to observe in the wild or at home in your very own enclosure. It may be a more comfortable choice for those who fancy a snake-looking kind of lizard. It’s like having one but you don’t have to fear them as you might fear snakes.

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