The Endangered – Legless Lizard

Juvenile Burtons Legless Lizard (Lialis burtonis) by Matt Claney

The Endangered Legless Lizard by Lina McDermott

The Baja California Legless Lizard is a largely unknown species, and is often mistaken for a snake. The main distinguishable factors include: their eyelids (snakes don’t have any), their lack of broad belly scales, and their tongues, which are notched rather than forked. These Lizards burrow in loose soil, and can even be found in our hometown of El Segundo!

Why they are Important: The Legless Lizard contributes to California’s biodiversity. There are many different species of legless lizards, but they are all decreasing due to urbanization. Each species plays an important role in ecosystem productivity. Legless lizards do their part by keeping pests like termites (unwanted insects) under control.

What is the problem: The Baja California Legless Lizard is currently classified as endangered. While there are new species of Legless Lizard found every so often, the species that we know about are not being protected carefully, and populations are decreasing. This is largely due to a lack of awareness.

Why they are going extinct: The Baja California Legless Lizard is currently threatened by coastal tourist development, road building, and increasing use of pesticides. Additionally, they are often mistaken for snakes and killed out of fear.

How we can help:
There aren’t many conservation efforts for legless lizards at the moment, but if you’re 18 or older, you can volunteer with Tree Musketeers at the Habitat to help replant native plants and foster a new home for Legless Lizards!

Want more of The Endangered? Check out the growing list of articles on our Wildlife page.

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