Burton’s Legless Lizard

Identifying A Burton’s Legless Lizard

Burton’s Legless Lizard (Lialis burtonis)

Perhaps one of the most unusual looking ‘snakes’ out there, the Burton’s Legless Lizard is actually a species of lizard found in various regions around Australia. Their serpentine appearance and distinct lack of front legs often has people confusing these legless lizards with snakes!

You may encounter a Burton’s Legless Lizard in your garden on the Sunshine Coast. A close enough look will uncover the small flap nearer to the rear of the lizard where hind legs once were.


About the Burton’s Legless Lizard

Despite their appearance, Burton’s Legless Lizards are entirely of the lizard, Pygopodidae family, and are more closely related to geckos than they are snakes.

These lizards are extraordinary looking, with long, slender bodies growing up to over 100cm long – although females tend to grow longer than males. The most noteworthy feature of the lizard is it unique wedge-shaped snout, which tapers to a point. Upper body colours tend to be cream, yellow, brown or grey, with light-coloured bellies.

In some regions, the Burton’s Legless Lizard may have a distinct stripe running along either side of its body. Unlike snakes, these lizards have visible ear holes and flat, fleshy tongues. Moreover, their pupils are vertical and they don’t have eyelids.


Where Can You Find the Burton’s Legless Lizard?

You could encounter a Burton’s Legless Lizard in most of the Australian mainland, with the southern coast being an exception. The preferred habitat of these legless lizards is grasslands, beaches, woodlands, and rainforests.

They are often found hiding or resting amidst foliage or fallen trees.


Is The Burton’s Legless Lizard Dangerous?

The Burton’s Legless Lizard is not a danger to humans. Though an unsuspecting individual may think these lizards are snakes when first encountering them, Burton’s Legless Lizards are not dangerous.

These lizards may hiss and rear up when they feel threatened, but its most useful defense mechanism – like many geckos – is to drop its tail when attacked. Making up almost three-quarters of its body, a missing tail makes for quite the transformation!

This is a common defense mechanism in lizard families, and the Burton’s Legless Lizard is able to ‘regrow’ its tail.


What Does the Burton’s Legless Lizard Eat?

The Burton’s Legless Lizard is carnivorous and preys almost exclusively on lizards. Skinks are their primary source of food, but these legless lizards may also prey on other legless lizards, other lizard species, and geckos for food.

Their unique skull has a special hinge that allows them to dislocate their jaw, making swallowing food whole – and from the head down – that much easier!


What to do if you see a Burton’s Legless Lizard

If you come across a Burton’s Legless Lizard while out walking, or have one visit your home or garden, you have little to worry about. Non-threatening and entirely non-venomous, these lizards pose little danger to either children or pets.

If you would like to have any unwanted lizards or snakes removed from your garden or home, reach out to the Snake Rescue Sunny Coast team. With years of experience in identifying, capturing, and relocating snakes around the coast, we can help safely remove any reptiles from your premises.

See other snakes commonly found on the Sunshine Coast here...

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