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Legless Lizard vs. Snake: What’s the Difference?

Legless Lizard vs. Snake: What’s the Difference?

There are many types of lizards in the world, and one of the most popular is the legless lizard. These creatures can be found in many different parts of the world, and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. But what exactly is a legless lizard? How does it differ from other types of lizards? And what about snakes – how do they compare? In this article, we will take a close look at both legless lizards and snakes to see how they differ from each other.

Comparing Legless Lizards vs. Snakes

Legless lizards, also known as slowworms or glass snakes, are a type of lizard without legs. They have long, slender bodies that can reach lengths up to 35 inches. Despite their lack of legs, legless lizards are adept climbers and burrowers. They usually have smooth scales and typically come in shades of gray or brown.

Snakes, by contrast, have elongated bodies with no limbs at all. They range widely in size – some species can reach over 20 feet in length! Snakes typically have dry scales which help them move swiftly through their environment. This is an adaptation that allows them to hunt prey efficiently and travel quickly from one location to another.

Although both legless lizards and snakes have long, slender bodies and lack legs, there are several key differences between them. Legless lizards have eyelids, which snakes do not possess. Additionally, legless lizards have external ear openings on their heads, while snakes do not. Legless lizards also have claws on their hind limbs (even though the limbs themselves are vestigial), whereas snakes do not. Finally, legless lizards typically lay eggs whereas many species of snakes give birth to live young.

Not only are there physical differences between legless lizards and snakes but they differ in behavior as well. Legless lizards are generally slow-moving reptiles that feed mainly on insects, worms and other small invertebrates. They spend much of their time underground, making them difficult to spot. Snakes, on the other hand, are highly active predators that feed mainly on small mammals and birds. They use their keen senses of smell and vision to locate prey and strike with lightning speed. [1]

Comparing Legless Lizards vs. Snakes

The 4 Key Differences Between Legless Lizards vs Snakes

  • Legless Lizard vs Snake: Eyelids and Ear Holes

When trying to differentiate between a legless lizard and a snake, one of the easiest methods is to compare and contrast their physical features.

One of the major differences between a legless lizard and a snake is that lizards have eyelids, whereas snakes do not. This is because snakes evolved from reptiles with no eyelids, so they don’t possess them in modern times. Additionally, lizards have external ear holes on either side of their head which are used to pick up sound vibrations in their environment. Snakes, on the other hand, are deaf; they cannot hear anything due to the fact that they lack an external ear or any kind of auditory organ.

Another way to identify whether an animal is a snake or a legless lizard is to look at its tongue. Snakes use their tongues to smell by flicking them in and out of their mouths and picking up scent particles from the environment, while lizards flick their tongues out of their mouths but don’t pick up scents with it.

In addition, legless lizards have little claws on their underside which allow them to cling onto rocks, trees and other surfaces. These claw-like structures are called “subdigital lamellae” and are absent in snakes. This helps differentiate between the two animals as they can be seen upon careful examination of their undersides.

Finally, another significant difference between a legless lizard and a snake is that lizards possess pelvic bones, a feature which is absent in snakes. This is because snakes evolved from reptiles that had previously lost their limbs and did not need the bones to support them anymore.

By closely examining these physical differences between legless lizards and snakes, it is possible to accurately differentiate between the two animals. Legless lizards have eyelids, external ear holes, claw-like structures on their undersides and pelvic bones whereas snakes lack these features and instead depend on their tongues for smelling. Knowing these distinctions can help you confidently identify any animal you come across as either a legless lizard or a snake.

  • Legless Lizard vs Snake: Presence of Limbs

Another difference between legless lizards and snakes is the presence of limbs. Legless lizards have vestigial hind limbs, which are usually equipped with small claws. The limbs help these animals grip onto surfaces when climbing or burrowing underground. Snakes, on the other hand, lack any appendages at all and instead rely on their scales to move through their environment quickly and efficiently.

Legless Lizard vs Snake: Presence of Limbs

  • Legless Lizard vs Snake: Ability to Lose Tail

The third difference between legless lizards and snakes is the ability to lose their tails. Legless lizards are able to drop off their tail if threatened by a predator, leaving behind a wriggling stump that can distract the predator and allow the lizard to escape. Snakes lack this ability and instead must rely on speed or camouflage to protect themselves from danger.

  • Legless Lizard vs Snake: Prey Preferences

One of the most obvious differences between a legless lizard and a snake is their prey preferences. Snakes are carnivores and rely on eating other animals for sustenance. Legless lizards, however, are insectivores; they prefer to feed on insects like ants, beetles, grasshoppers and more. This difference in food preference can be used to help distinguish between the two species.

Discover the “Monster” Snake 5X Bigger than an Anaconda

Finally, there is one species of snake that stands out from the rest. This “monster” snake, called a reticulated python, can grow up to 20 feet long and weigh up to 250 pounds! This makes it five times larger than the average anaconda which typically grows up to 17 feet in length. Reticulated pythons are native to Southeast Asia and can be found in rainforests, swamps and rivers. They feed mainly on small mammals such as pigs, monkeys and deer but have been known to devour large birds like chickens or even dogs if given the opportunity. [2]


Are snakes and legless lizards related?

Yes, snakes and legless lizards are related. Both belong to the suborder of Squamata which includes all reptiles that possess scales or scutes on their skin. They share a common ancestor which is believed to have lived over 100 million years ago. [3]

Are legless lizards harmful?

No, legless lizards are not harmful. They feed mainly on insects and other small invertebrates, so they pose no threat to humans or their pets. These creatures play an important role in controlling insect populations which can help reduce the spread of disease.

Can legless lizards have legs?

No, legless lizards cannot have legs. These animals belong to a group of lizards that evolved to lose their limbs over time, resulting in the modern-day version which lacks any hindlimbs at all.

Useful Video: The Difference Between Legless Lizards and Snakes


Though they may look similar, legless lizards and snakes are actually quite different! Legless lizards lack the tempered fangs that venomous snakes possess, instead having blunt teeth more fit for grinding down prey. These creatures also have ear holes present on the sides of their heads- a defining feature not shared by any species of snake. If you’re ever unsure whether you’re looking at a snake or a lizard, remember to check for these key physical differences!


  1. https://a-z-animals.com/blog/legless-lizard-vs-snake/
  2. https://a-z-animals.com/blog/discover-the-monster-snake-5x-bigger-than-an-anaconda/
  3. https://www.livescience.com/40810-are-legless-lizards-snakes.html