Added as separate page 30 January 2005.

A look at the Family Lacertidae


Snake-Eyed Lizards



I am extremely indebted to Rogner's book Echsen [Lizards] 2 for information on the individual species described here.

Scientific Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes
O. beddomei   W India    
O. elbaensis   NE Sudan, Egypt    
O. elegans Snake-eyed Lizard Transcaucasia, SE Balkans, esp. nr Svilengrad (Bul.) ?" Only one of the Ophisops genus (9 species) to be found in Europe: the rest live in W. Asia and NE Africa. Likes clay or stony slopes, bushy hillsides, open deciduous woods or vineyards. When disturbed, these lizards run from cover to cover and then pop up to look for the intruder. If then undisturbed for a short while, the lizard stands on its rear legs, supported by its tail, and makes a curious 'begging' motion, waving its forelimbs in the air and turning its head quickly from side to side. Other lacertids and indeed some agamids often display hand waving gestures, but this one seems more obscure. Occasionally Snake-eyed Lizards will also rear up on their hind legs and run a short distance rather like the N. American Collared Lizard. Females lay 4-5 eggs twice a year, and possibly a third batch late in the summer. The young have striking longitudinal stripes. This species derives its name from an interesting adaptation of the eyelids, which like a snake's are fused together with a 'window' formed over the actual eye. Unlike a snake, however, this lizard can partially close its eyes as the lids remain capable of some movement. Eight subspecies have been named in the past, but I am unsure of the validity or distribution of all of them. O. e. schlueteri is found on Cyprus.
O. jerdonii   E Afghanistan, Pakistan, N & C India   Widely distributed throughout the subcontinent. In scrub country it inhabits stony areas. A very fast mover. Scalation: labial shields lack keels: rough head shields are keeled and striated. Coloration: dorsally brownish or golden with 2 light stripes. Reproduction: mating May-June; maximum of 7 eggs per clutch laid June-July.
O. leschenaultii Leschenault's Snake-Eye India, Sri Lanka   Common in open dry jungles of the Indian peninsula. Scalation: anterior labial shields keeled. Coloration: dorsally brownish or golden with 2 light stripes.
O. l. leschenaultii        
O. l. lankae        
O. microlepis   India, poss. Bangladesh    
O. minor   NE & E India, E Sri Lanka   A species first designated in 1971. There are two subspecies, the nominate and O. m. nictans (described in 1989).
O. occidentalis Mograbin Snake-Eyed Lizard NE Morocco, N Algeria, Tunisia, NW Libya (Cyrenaica)    


For bibliography please refer to main Lacertidae page.

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