Burtons Legless Lizard

Ah, to be back on firmer ground with regards to I.D's. [I'm giving up on bees for a while - they're not good for my ego lol - seriously though, I do appreciate everyone's input, suggestions and/or corrections ... cheers].

Anyway - this fascinating little chap, sometimes innapropriatly called Burtons snake - lizard, is a pygopodid [which simply means legless lizard].

They have a specially developed hinged top jaw that they employ to hold and constrict their usually lizard prey before consuming them, presumably whole - much like a snake.

I came across it, or rather I came across a small group of children who had come across it on their way to school while I was working on Saibai Island in the Torres Straight a while back [at least I think it was Saibai - I've been to most of the Islands ... and sometimes the memories kind of run together ...]. Wherever I was, I luckily managed to convince the kids that despite their grave concern it was harmless and that the sticks they had armed themselves with weren't needed.

Thus, completely abandoning any pretence of working, I sat down with them and pointed out the residual limbs [that look like little flaps of skin], the eyes and other general points of difference to snakes - the Lizard then trumped me by vocalising [in this case sounding a little like a muffled kitten]. To say the kids were impressed is a bit of an understatement and I had to use all my powers of dissuasion to stop them taking it to school!.

From would be executioners to exponents in 5mins - that's gotta be some kind of record right?

Lialis burtonis

In the end we all parted company and after taking a few quick pics I placed the lizard in an area that I hope afforded it the best opportunity of not being turned to paste.

Australia is blessed with a wealth of legless lizards and it truly is beyond the scope of this blog to delve very deeply into the subject - however, an excellent book for anyone interested in Herps [and my personal favourite] is Australian Snakes: A Natural History. It's an all around fantastic read and is packed with info and more than a few laughs from the author Dr. Richard Shine.

I have posted about these guys before in an entry from one of my trips to the Iron Range but I'm glad I rediscovered these pics and the memory too - there's bugger all that beats sharing a passion with a receptive audience ... and who knows maybe a little of it stuck.

Till next time - take care :).