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Burton's legless lizard

Burton's legless lizard (Lialis burtonis)
Western Gulf of Carpentaria, Queensland
Photo © Stewart Macdonald
Lialis burtonis - Gray, 1835
Pronunciation  lee-AH-liss   BER-tun-ee
Etymology  Lialis: Unknown.
burtonis: 'Burton's Lialis' - identity of Burton is unknown.
Other names  Burton's snake-lizard
Lialis bicatenata 
Snout-to-vent length
Species avg: 60 cm
Clutch size
Description Distribution Natural history Conservation Further information More photos

Natural history

Similar to snakes in the following aspects:
-pointed, recurved, hinged teeth3
-very flexible skull, allowing it to curve over prey items to maximise contact4
-very elongate skull
These adaptations may serve to increase the ability of Lialis to capture and consume large skinks.4

Uses caudal movement to both distract and lure prey.5


Feeds on other reptiles, primary skinks.1 Will probably consume any small reptile it can overpower, including other legless lizards and small snakes. Is an ambush hunter, feeding mainly during the day.5

To avoid retaliatory bites, Burton's legless lizards modify their grasp location depending on the size of the prey: large prey items are always grasped on the head or neck and not eaten until incapacitated (which may take nearly 50 minutes), while smaller prey are sometimes grasped around the chest and swallowed while still struggling. Grasping the head or neck may also hasten prey suffocation. The elongated snout allows better grip of the prey, decreasing the likelihood of prey escaping. The eyes can also be retracted (inwards and backwards) into the skull to prevent injury from a struggling prey item.6

Notes and disclaimer
This information may not be complete. While all care is taken to ensure the accuracy of the information in this page, primary sources should always be consulted for definitive information. Animals have an endearing habit of disobeying the rules, so the information on this page should be interpreted with a degree of flexibility.
The author and site operator accepts no responsibility for any losses or damages incurred through using this web site or the information contained herein. Don't get bitten by anything!
This page may be cited as:
  Lialis burtonis at the Australian Reptile Online Database. Last updated 2017-02-23 16:30:35.
  Retrieved from on the 16th of July, 2020.
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Copyright notice
This page, its content and layout are copyright © 2007-2020 Stewart Macdonald / Ug Media, unless otherwise stated.
All photographs in The Australian Reptile Online Database are © the photographer and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of the photographer.
No part of The Australian Reptile Online Database may be reproduced without written permission from Stewart Macdonald.
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