Added 10 January 2004. Last updated 3 February 2008: extensively amended page and added genus Aclys.

A Brief Look

at the


Flap-Footed Lizards and Snake Lizards


The Pygopodidae are the only lizard family endemic to the region of Australia and New Guinea. Despite their snake-like appearance, they are closely related to the Gekkonidae (geckos), and Kluge went so far as to make them part of the subfamily Diplodactylinae, although this does not appear to have found ready acceptance. There are a couple of rival classification schemes: see The Reptile Database for details.

Species in this family are distinguished by the absence of forelimbs and the reduction of hindlimbs to a scaly flap just above the vent. The eyes are lidless and covered by a spectacle. An external ear opening may or may not be present. The tail is readily broken but regenerates fairly rapidly. All are oviparous. Most are insectivorous, but some feed primarily on spiders or skinks.

In captivity few if any are seen outside the region. Lialis burtonis of New Guinea is sometimes available, but as its diet is mainly skinks it is by no means an easy species to feed.

Species Common Name Distribution No. of species Notes
Aclys Javelin Legless Lizard Australia (WA) 1  
Aprasia Worm-Lizards Australia 11 Not to be confused with the Amphisbaenidae, also known as "worm lizards".
Delma Delmas Australia 16  
Lialis Snake-Lizard Australia, Indonesia 2  
Ophidiocephalus Bronzeback Australia (Northern Territory, poss. South Australia) 1  
Paradelma Brigalow Scaly-Foot Australia (SE Queensland) 1  
Pletholax Slender Slider Australia (W Australia) 1  
Pygopus Scaly-Foots Australia 3  


Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, Harold Cogger, 6th edition, to which I gratefully acknowledge my debt for the information on this page.

A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia, Steve Wilson and Gerry Swan, Reed New Holland, Sydney, 2003. Somewhat less detailed than Cogger but still covers the most useful identifying characteristics of the genera and species, and certainly more portable!



Brian Bush's page on Pygopodidae.

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