Moroccan glass lizard

Ophisaurus koellikeri

SUBFAMILY

Anguinae

TAXONOMY

Ophisaurus koellikeri Günther, 1873, North Africa, later restricted to Mogador, Morocco.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Koelliker's glass lizard; French: Ophisaure de Koel-liker, l'orvet du Maroc; German: Marokko-schleiche, Türkis-panzerschleiche; Spanish: Lagarto de cristal marroquí.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

This slender lizard with a long tail grows to 19.7 in (500 mm) in length. Forelimbs are absent; the greatly reduced hind limbs consist of small flaps near the cloaca. A ventrolateral fold is present, and the tail is extremely fragile. The dorsal coloration is brownish. Over the anterior two-thirds of the body, there are small dark spots (sometimes arranged in transverse rows). Most of the dark spots contain light, iridescent specks.

DISTRIBUTION

This is the only anguid species known from Africa; it is endemic to Morocco at elevations from 160 to 6,560+ ft (50-2,000+ m). Bons and Geniez suggested that it also may occur in Algeria.

HABITAT

The Moroccan glass lizard is known from regions with moderate to high amounts of rainfall; it inhabits open grassy areas near pine and oak forests and also agricultural areas.

Moroccan Animals

BEHAVIOR

This species spends much time hidden beneath stones or logs but frequently basks in the morning. Those that live at high elevations hibernate during the cold months. The Moroccan glass lizard rapidly flees from perceived predators and readily autotomizes the tail if it is captured.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

This species actively forages for arthropods.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Little is known of the reproductive biology of this species. Ovulation may occur in June, and it is possible that the female guards the eggs.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Although this species has a limited distribution within Morocco, it is not known to be threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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