glass snake

glass snake, common name for the snakelike legless lizards of the genus Ophisaurus found in the S and central United States and in Eurasia. The shiny, scaled body is gray or greenish brown, sometimes striped above and whitish below. The American species, Ophisaurus ventralis, is 2 to 3 ft (60–90 cm) long; two thirds of the length is tail. The tail of a glass snake breaks easily from the body, either whole or in pieces, if struck; the lizard regenerates a new, usually shorter, tail without a real backbone. Like other lizards, and unlike snakes, the glass snake has eyelids and ear openings. Its tongue is broad. It feeds mostly on insects, worms, and slugs. A burrower, it lives in fields and meadows and seldom appears above ground in daylight. Glass snakes are classifed in the phylum Chordata , subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Squamata, family Anguidae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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