Thursday, April 18, 2013

Eastern Glass Lizard (Fragile, Handle with Care)

Reptiles have long heeded the call of the sun. As solar heat permeates whatever winter shelter they have devised, their bodies respond, urging them forth into the live-giving warmth. Lizards are no exception.

That's right, lizard.  The eastern glass lizard is one of three legless lizards found in North Carolina, and can attain a length of over three feet. When Hoot Owl Karma encountered this beautiful specimen in the dunes at Ft. Macon State Park, we quickly relocated it away from the trail for fear that another passerby might mistake it for a snake and harm it.

The next day, we traveled by ferry to Bear Island (Hammocks Beach State Park), and as luck would have it, we spied another impressive adult basking in a spot of sunlight. Remarkably, in spite of their name, neither of these adults had broken their "glass" tails at the time of our encounters. 

As you may have surmised by now, the glass lizard "breaks" its long tail (which accounts for over two thirds of its total body length) by thrashing wildly about when handled. The separated tail continues to thrash about after breaking, distracting predators so that the lizard may slip away unharmed. It will later regenerate its tail. 

Like many of North Carolina's amazing native flora and fauna, loss of habitat has affected the eastern glass lizard. However, it is still locally common in undeveloped areas such as Hammocks Beach. If you keep your eyes open, you might catch a glimpse of one of these cool critters on your next trip down east. Just remember, Fragile - Handle with Care!

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