California legless lizard

Anniella pulchra

SUBFAMILY

Anniellinae

TAXONOMY

Anniella pulchra Gray, 1852, 0.5 mi (0.8 km) southeast of Pinnacles National Monument, San Benito County, California, United States (as designated by Murphy and Smith, 1991). Two subspecies have been recognized.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

Spanish: Culebra, Lagartija-sin patas californiana. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

The adult California legless lizard has a snout-vent length of 5.9-7.1 in (150-180 mm). This small, serpentiform lizard lacks external ear openings and limbs. The dorsal coloration is silvery gray, dark brown, or black. Three dark longitudinal stripes (one on the center of the back and one on each side of the body) are most distinct on gray individuals. The belly and sides of the body below the lateral stripes are yellow. The ven-trolateral fold is absent, and the tail is short.

DISTRIBUTION

This species ranges from the San Francisco Bay Area of California south into northwestern Baja California; it also occurs on several offshore islands. It is known from sea level to 5,085 ft (1,550 m).

HABITAT

The species is found in areas with loose, moist soil (sand or loam) in chaparral, oak woodlands, and, in particular, coastal dunes with sparse vegetation.

BEHAVIOR

The species is primarily fossorial by day but emerges to forage at night.

Feeding Ecology

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

This species actively forages in leaf litter for small arthropods. REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

From September to November, females typically give birth to one to two young.

CONSERVATION STATUS

The species is not threatened at present, but agriculture has eliminated many California populations.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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