glass snake, common name for the snakelike legless lizards of the genus Ophisaurus found in the S and central United States and in Eurasia. The shiny, scaled body is gray or greenish brown, sometimes striped above and whitish below. The American species, Ophisaurus ventralis, is 2 to 3 ft (60–90 cm) long; two thirds of the length is tail. The tail of a glass snake breaks easily from the body, either whole or in pieces, if struck; the lizard regenerates a new, usually shorter, tail without a real backbone. Like other lizards, and unlike snakes, the glass snake has eyelids and ear openings. Its tongue is broad. It feeds mostly on insects, worms, and slugs. A burrower, it lives in fields and meadows and seldom appears above ground in daylight. Glass snakes are classifed in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Squamata, family Anguidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.