Striped Legless Lizard

Delma impar

reptile reptile

Striped Legless Lizard
Image: Peter Robertson
Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty Ltd

Type: reptile

Striped Legless Lizard Striped Legless Lizard
Image: Peter Robertson
Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty Ltd

Victorian Conservation Status

Secure Vulnerable Endangered Extinct  ]

Once widespread and even found in Melbourne, Striped Legless Lizards persist in just a few sites in the state as agriculture and housing developments engulf their grassland habitat. They are unable to live in areas where the ground is disturbed by tilling or heavy grazing.

WHAT THEY EAT

carnivore

Striped Legless Lizards are carnivores.

They are feed on spiders, crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars and cockroaches.

HOW BIG THEY ARE

Striped Legless Lizard relative size depiction as described below

Size relative to a sparrow.

Length:
up to 30 cm including tail

Amazing Striped Legless Lizards

Striped Legless Lizards are sleek, slender reptiles that resemble tiny snakes at first glance. They belong to a family of lizards unique to Australia and New Guinea that is most closely related to geckos. Unlike snakes, they have a fleshy tongue that is not forked, and visible external ears. They also have two tiny flaps that are all that remain of their hind legs. Over time their limbs have evolved into these tiny remnants and the front legs have disappeared completely. The tail is much longer than the body – up to two-thirds of the total length.

The common name comes from the one or more dark stripes along the side of their scaly bodies. Other markings may be black, brown, cream or grey. Striped Legless Lizards forage in dense grass tussocks during the day, and hide in crevices in the ground for protection. They seem to have a small home range and do not travel far. They are inactive during winter.

Female Striped Legless Lizards start breeding at 3–4 years old. They lay a clutch of two eggs in summer, and there is one record of communal nesting (different females laying eggs in the same nest).

Did You Know?

Striped Legless Lizards

  • look like snakes but have tiny remnant hind limbs
  • can live over ten years
  • were described from a specimen collected in Melbourne in 1882

 

WHERE THEY LIVE

Striped Legless Lizards inhabit lowland tussock grasslands in south eastern Australia. There are a few isolated populations in the ACT, New South Wales and Victoria. They are no longer found in Melbourne, but are present in remnant grasslands on the city’s outskirts and in the Western District.

OTHER ANIMALS

Other animals from the Victorian Grasslands

Eastern Barred Bandicoot Golden Sun MothPlains-wanderer
Photograph of a yellow plastic Tyranasaurus Rex