Rhineurids are completely fossorial, using the spatulate head to tunnel into the soil. The shovel-shaped snout is an effective aid in penetrating the soil. Additionally, the snout bears a hard covering that forms a keratinous shield, thus hardening the penetrating edge even more. The keratin usually wears off with use and is continually replaced. The irregular, raised scales on the dorsal surface of the tail are used to plug the mouth of the tunnel, with soil particles blending into these raised tubercles and camouflaging both the tail and the tunnel entrance. When threatened, the Florida wormlizard retreats quickly into the soil and uses its tail to block the tunnel entrance.

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