While walking the Sandtown trail at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma I came across a Western Slender Glass Lizard.

Western Slender Glass Lizard Close-up

Western Slender Glass Lizard Close-up

Western Slender Glass Lizard

Western Slender Glass Lizard

The Western Slender Glass Lizard, also known as Ophisaurus attenuatus, is a fascinating reptile that belongs to the Anguidae family. This elusive lizard, often mistaken for a snake due to its limbless body, has captivated the interest of herpetologists and nature enthusiasts alike.


The Western Slender Glass Lizard, native to the western regions of North America, is a legless lizard species that resembles a snake in appearance. Despite this similarity, the Western Slender Glass Lizard is not a snake but rather a lizard with a long, slender body. It is known for its ability to break off its tail when threatened, a defense mechanism common among lizards.

Physical Characteristics

The Western Slender Glass Lizard can reach an impressive length of up to 4 feet, making it one of the longest lizard species in North America. Its body is cylindrical and elongated, covered in smooth scales that provide protection and aid in locomotion. These lizards exhibit a range of coloration, including shades of brown, gray, and olive, allowing them to blend seamlessly with their surroundings.

Habitat and Distribution

Western Slender Glass Lizards can be found across a variety of habitats, including grasslands, chaparrals, and woodlands. They prefer areas with loose soil, as it facilitates burrowing. These lizards are primarily distributed in the western United States, ranging from California to Oregon and parts of Mexico. Their ability to adapt to diverse environments has contributed to their wide distribution.

Behavior and Diet

The Western Slender Glass Lizard is predominantly diurnal, meaning it is most active during the daytime. It utilizes its powerful jaws to prey upon small invertebrates, such as insects, spiders, and snails. These lizards are excellent diggers and spend a significant portion of their time burrowing underground to search for food or take refuge from extreme temperatures.


During the breeding season, male Western Slender Glass Lizards engage in territorial displays to attract females. After successful courtship, females lay elongated eggs in a shallow nest they excavate in the soil. The eggs are left to incubate, and the young lizards hatch after a few months. Unlike some reptiles, the Western Slender Glass Lizard does not provide parental care to its offspring.

Predators and Defense Mechanisms

As with many reptiles, the Western Slender Glass Lizard faces predation from various animals. Birds of prey, mammals, and other reptiles are known to prey upon these lizards. When threatened, the Western Slender Glass Lizard can detach its tail, a process called autotomy, which distracts the predator while the lizard escapes. The tail can regenerate over time, albeit with slight differences in appearance.

Conservation Status

The Western Slender Glass Lizard is not currently classified as an endangered species. However, its populations face threats due to habitat loss, urban development, and the introduction of invasive species. Conservation efforts are crucial to safeguard their habitats and ensure the preservation of this unique reptile.


In conclusion, the Western Slender Glass Lizard is a remarkable reptile found in the western regions of North America. With its elongated body, distinctive defense mechanisms, and adaptable nature, this legless lizard showcases the beauty and diversity of the natural world. Understanding and protecting the Western Slender Glass Lizard and its habitat are vital for the conservation of this fascinating species.


FAQ 1: What is the difference between a glass lizard and a snake?

While Western Slender Glass Lizards may resemble snakes, they are actually lizards. Unlike snakes, glass lizards have external ear openings, move their eyelids, and possess a removable tail, which is a unique defense mechanism.

FAQ 2: Can the Western Slender Glass Lizard regenerate its tail?

Yes, the Western Slender Glass Lizard can regenerate its tail, although the regenerated tail might have a slightly different appearance compared to the original tail.

FAQ 3: Are Western Slender Glass Lizards venomous?

No, Western Slender Glass Lizards are not venomous. They rely on their speed, camouflage, and tail autotomy as defense mechanisms rather than venom.

FAQ 4: How do these lizards communicate with each other?

Western Slender Glass Lizards primarily communicate through body language and visual cues. They may engage in territorial displays during the breeding season to attract mates.

FAQ 5: Can Western Slender Glass Lizards be kept as pets?

While Western Slender Glass Lizards may be intriguing, they require specific care and environments that mimic their natural habitat. It is generally best to appreciate these lizards in their natural surroundings rather than keeping them as pets.

Gear Used:

Camera: Canon EOS-1D Mark III
Lens: Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS


Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
Date and Time Taken: April 24, 2010 (02:21 P. M.)
Aperture Priority
Aperture: f5.6
Shutter speed: 1/320 (as determined by the camera)
ISO: 200
Focal Length: 400 mm