SLENDER GLASS LIZARD
Ophisaurus attenuatus
Cope 1880


ō-fĭ-săr-ŭs — ăt-tĕn-ū-ā-tŭs




Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
An adult Slender Glass Lizard from Comanche County. © Maci Loughrea.
An adult Slender Glass Lizard from Kiowa County, Kansas. © Travis W. Taggart.

Description:
This is the longest lizard in Kansas. No other limbless reptile in Kansas has eyelids or external ear openings. They are gray to coppery brown with two dark brown stripes running from the neck to the tip of the tail, which are bordered by narrower cream-colored stripes. Older individuals lose the stripes and developed a black and white spotted pattern (especially along the sides) and occasionally light bars across the back. The belly is cream colored.
Adults normally 560-900 mm (22-36 inches) in TL; largest specimen from Kansas: male (KU 207280) from Douglas County with SVL of 240 mm and TL of 762 mm (30 inches) collected by Lance Good and John Kitterman on 13 May 1987; maximum length throughout range: 46½ inches (Conant and Collins, 1998).

Distribution:
This species is found throughout the eastern two-thirds of Kansas. However, it is rare or absent from Drift Hills, Loess Hills, Arkansas River Sand Prairie, and eastern Smoky Hills.

(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record)
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  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 390 Total Records 
  • 313 Museum Vouchers 
  • 77 Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Allen (5); Anderson (16); Barber (16); Bourbon (8); Butler (4); Chase (2); Chautauqua (2); Coffey (1); Comanche (6); Cowley (12); Crawford (9); Douglas (70); Elk (4); Ellis (44); Ellsworth (2); Franklin (19); Geary (5); Graham (1); Greenwood (7); Harvey (1); Jackson (1); Jefferson (5); Johnson (4); Kiowa (5); Labette (4); Leavenworth (5); Linn (3); Lyon (1); Marshall (2); McPherson (2); Miami (4); Mitchell (1); Montgomery (3); Neosho (5); Osage (2); Osborne (6); Phillips (1); Pottawatomie (1); Pratt (1); Reno (2); Rice (4); Riley (15); Rooks (6); Russell (42); Saline (1); Shawnee (7); Smith (1); Sumner (3); Trego (2); Unknown (6); Wabaunsee (3); Washington (1); Wilson (5); Woodson (1); Wyandotte (1);

Natural History:
Only the first one-third of this lizard is its body, the rest is tail. Called the ‘glass lizard’ because the tail will dismember easily and continue to writhe after coming off, confusing any predator that has ended up with this part of the animal. Diurnal, they eat invertebrates and small lizards. Hartman (1906) reported a specimen from Douglas County that contained three large grasshoppers, one cricket, and one large caterpillar.
Birds and mammals are their main predators.


Occurrence Activity:
White dates indicate there is at least a single recorded occurrence on that date. The darker blue a date is, the greater the relative number of observations for that date.
Remarks:
First reported in Kansas by Hallowell (1856). The earliest existing specimen is from 1903(KU 509).
The species is most observably abundant along the Saline River valley in Ellis and Russell counties where Taggart (1992) observed 117 individuals over a three-year period. Interestingly, they are conspicuously absent from the Smoky Hill River valley in the same counties.
Densities of this species in northeastern Kansas are estimated to be between 26 and 41 individuals per acre (Fitch, 1989).
Further effort is required to determine if the distributional hiatus between the northern Flint Hills populations and the mid-Smoky Hills populations is due to a paucity of collection effort.

Bibliography:
1857 Hallowell, Edward. Note on the collection of reptiles from the neighborhood of San Antonio, Texas, recently presented to the Academy of Natural Sciences by Dr. A. Heerman. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 8():306-310
1857 Hallowell, Edward. Notice of a collection of reptiles from Kansas and Nebraska presented to the Academy of Natural Sciences, by Doctor Hammond, U. S. A. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 8():238-253
1875 Cope, Edward D. Check-list of North American Batrachia and Reptilia; with a systematic list of the higher groups, and an essay on geographical distribution. Based on the specimens contained in the U.S. National Museum. Bulletin of the United States National Museum 1():1-104
1882 Shufeldt, Robert W. Remarks upon the osteology of Opheosaurus ventralis. Proceedings of the United States National Museum ():392-400
1882 Yarrow, Henry C. Check list of North American Reptilia and Batrachia with catalogue of specimens in U. S. National Museum. Bulletin of the United States National Museum (24):1-249
1900 Cope, Edward D. The crocodilians, lizards and snakes of North America. Pages 153-1270 in Report of the U. S. National Museum for the Year Ending June 30, 1898 , Washington, D. C. pp.
1906 Hartman, Frank A. Food habits of Kansas lizards and batrachians. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 20():225-229
1911 Hurter, Julius. Herpetology of Missouri. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 20(5):59-274
1920 Taylor, Edward H. The Lizards of Kansas with Notes on Habits. Thesis. University of Kansas, Lawrence. 117pp.
1928 Burt, Charles E. Insect food of Kansas lizards with notes on feeding habits. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 1(3):50-68
1928 Burt, Charles E. Some distributional and ecological records of Kansas reptiles. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 26():186-208
1932 Gloyd, Howard K. The herpetological fauna of the Pigeon Lake Region, Miami County, Kansas. Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan 15():389-408
1934 Brennan, Lawrence A. A check list of the amphibians and reptiles of Ellis County, Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():189-191
1934 Burt, Charles E. and W. L. Hoyle. Additional records of the reptiles of the central prairie region of the United States. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():193-216
1935 Brennan, Lawrence A. Notes on the Distribution of Amphibia and Reptilia of Ellis County, Kansas. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 114pp.
1935 Burt, Charles E. and William L. Hoyle. Additional records of the reptiles of the central prairie region of the United States Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():193-216
1940 Taylor, Edward H. Palatal sesamoid bones and palatal teeth in Cnemidophorus, with notes on these teeth in other saurian genera. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 53():119-124
1954 Stains, Howard J. A westward extension of the known geographic range of the Glass Lizard, Ophisaurus attenuatus attenuatus Baird, in south-central Kansas Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 57(4):482
1956 Loomis, Richard B. The chigger mites of Kansas (Acarina, Trombiculidae). University of Kansas Science Bulletin 37():1195-1443
1962 Gish, Charles D. The Herpetofauna of Ellis County, Kansas. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 34pp.
1971 Holman, J. Alan. Ophisaurus attenuatus. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (111):1-3
1971 Holman, J. Alan. Ophisaurus. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (110):1-3
1978 Fitch, Henry S. and E. Raymond Hall. A 20year record of succession on reseeded fields of tallgrass prairie on the Rockefeller Experimental Tract. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Special Publication (4):1-15
1982 Fitch, Henry S. Resources of a snake community in prairie-woodland habitat of northeastern Kansas. Pages 83-97 in Herpetological communities: A symposium of the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles and the Herpetologists League, August 1977.  Wildlife Research Reports 12. 239 pp. U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D. C. pp.
1989 Fitch, Henry S. A field study of the Slender Glass Lizard, Ophisaurus attenuatus, in northeastern Kansas. Occasional Papers of the University of Kansas Museum of Natural History (125):1-50
1991 Fitch, Henry S. Reptiles and amphibians of the Kansas ecological reserves. Pages 71-74 in Multidisciplinary Guidebook 4. Kansas Academy of Science, Lawrence. pp.
1991 Taggart, Travis W. Geographic distribution: Ophisaurus attenuatus attenuatus. Herpetological Review 22():66
1992 Taggart, Travis W. Observations on Kansas amphibians and reptiles Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (88):13-15
1996 Miller, Larry L. Many amphibian and reptile species identified during KHS 1996 fall field trip to Wabaunsee County. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (106):2-3
1998 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1997. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (111):12-14
1998 Platt, Dwight R. Monitoring population trends of snakes and lizards in Harvey County, Kansas. Final Report. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt, Kansas. 42pp.
2000 Taggart, Travis W. Biogeographic analysis of the reptiles (Squamata) in Ellis County, Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (121):7-16
2000 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2000 fall field trip. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (122):6-8
2002 Miller, Larry L. Sumner County herp count. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):15
2002 Riedle, J. Daren and A. Hynek. Amphibian and reptile inventory of the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant, Labette County, Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (2):18-20
2003 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2003 fall field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (8):14-15
2004 Taggart, Travis W. Geographic distribution. Ophisaurus attenuatus. Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (11):13
2004 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2004 fall feld trip . Journal of Kansas Herpetology (12):15-16
2005 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2005 fall field trip [to Crawford County]. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (16):19-21
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Distribution and status of Kansas herpetofauna in need of information. State Wildlife Grant T7. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. vii + 106pp.
2008 Taggart, Travis W. KHS 2008 spring field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (25):2-3
2012 Hamilton, Bryan Tyler, Rachel Hart , and Jack W. Sites Jr. Feeding Ecology of the Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum, Colubridae) in the Western United States. Journal of Herpetology 46(4):515-522
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
2016 Pittman, Galen L., Henry S. Fitch, and W. Dean Kettle Vertebrate animals on the Fitch Natural History Reservation (1948-2002) Kansas Biological Survey Report Number 188, Lawrence. 48pp.
Account Last Updated:
7/5/2018 9:59:37 AM


Travis W. Taggart © 2020 — Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University