Legless lizards

Delma (Delma tincta) The Excitable Delma, Delma tincta. Burton’s Legless Lizard (Lialis burtonis) Burton’s Legless Lizard, Lialis burtonis, a skink eater with a sharply pointed snout.Common Scaly-foot (Pygopus lepidopodus)Common Scaly-foot, Pygopus lepidopodus.Legless Lizards (family Pygopodidae), despite their snake-like appearance, are most closely related to geckos and have many features in common with this group. 

Like geckos, Legless Lizards have no eyelids, they have broad fleshy tongues and some species have preanal pores.  All Legless Lizards are elongate with the original tail accounting for up to three quarters, or more, of their total length.  They have no front limbs and the hind limbs are reduced to paddle-shaped flaps that are held tightly to the sides of the body.  Some species have distinctive, banded head patterns (for example, Delma borea, D. tincta and D. torquata) while others are relatively plain (D. inornata). 

There are fifteen species in Queensland, which vary in size from the diminutive Delma torquata with a body length of around 60 mm to Burton's Legless Lizard (Lialis burtonis) which has a body length of up to 290 mm.

Legless lizards inhabit open forests and grasslands with good ground cover.  There are both diurnal and nocturnal species.  They are summer breeders and most lay two parchment-shelled eggs per clutch. 

Most species are insect eaters but Burton's Legless Lizard is a predator of other lizards.  This sharp-snouted species ambushes its prey and holds it tightly in its jaws until it is suffocated – the prey is then swallowed head first.  A flexible, hinge-like join in the skull allows this species to deflect its snout downwards, strengthening its grip on its would-be meal.

Several Australian skinks have also reduced or lost their limbs entirely but nonetheless are closely related to other skinks and so belong in the family Scincidae, rather than with 'true' Legless Lizards. 

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