HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — There are many different snake species in Alabama – and it’s important to know the differences between those and the legless lizards that call the state home.

According to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR), there are three legless lizard species that live in Alabama and based on their appearance, it could be easy to confuse them with snakes.

News 19 previously reported on the state’s venomous snakes. To see that story and how to identify snakes in Alabama, click here.

Legless lizards, sometimes known as glass lizards, are most known for their easily broken tails that break “into one or more pieces when grabbed or handled roughly.” They also have external ear openings and moveable eyelids, both things absent in snakes.

Eastern Glass Lizard

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Sometimes known as a “joint snake,” the Eastern glass lizard can be up to 42 inches long and be green on top with a yellow underbelly.

The species has also earned the name “horn snake” and “stinging snake” due to their regenerative tail coming back as a lighter color.

In Alabama, Eastern glass lizards are the most common of the three listed species. They can easily be found in the Piedmont area, along with Blue Ridge, Ridge, and Valley regions. There are also isolated sightings in Oklahoma and Missouri, along with more frequent appearances in North Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana.

Eastern Slender Glass Lizard

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Eastern slender glass lizards are listed as “uncommon to rare” in Alabama, but most often found in the Fall Line Hills.

According to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, they can be up to 42 inches long, tan or brown on top with dark stripes. They are most recognizable due to the dark stripes below their lateral groove along their sides.

Outside of Alabama, the Eastern slender glass lizard is found in southeast Virginia all the way south to Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Louisiana.

Mimic Glass Lizard

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ADNCR says mimic lizards are the most elusive species of legless lizard in Alabama — just three of them have been spotted in Southern Alabama.

The major, and somewhat minute, identifying factor when it comes to deciding if you’ve spotted a mimic lizard is that it has 98 scales compared to 96 on the other two species found in Alabama.

Mimic lizards are often tan or brown in color with light or dark speckling. They have a stripe down their sides that might be faint. Their belly is usually pale.

The species is most often seen from North Carolina to Mississippi.


To learn more about Alabama’s legless lizards or other species found throughout the state, visit outdooralabama.com.