Feb 18
Baja California legless lizard image

Baja California legless lizard (Anniella geronimensis)

Species: Baja California legless lizard (Anniella geronimensis)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting Fact: Although snake-like in appearance, the Baja California legless lizard is actually a lizard without legs!

Both snakes and legless lizards evolved the legless trait independently from each other, and the Baja California legless lizard can be distinguished from snake species by its moveable eyelids. Unlike a snake, it is also unable to flex its jaws to swallow large items. It is a secretive reptile, and occurs only in the sand dunes of Baja California where it burrows into fine-grained sand to avoid detection by predators. Because of its secretive nature, very little is known about this species, though it likely feeds on insects, spiders and insect larvae. Breeding takes place during late spring and early summer, and the female Baja California legless lizard gives birth to one to two live young, which develop as embryos inside the female’s body before being born.

There are a number of threats to the sand dune ecosystem which the Baja California legless lizard inhabits, including coastal tourist development, road building and intensification of agriculture. Sadly, there are currently no specific conservation measures in place for this species, and it urgently requires the establishment of protected areas of habitat.

View more images of the Baja California legless lizard and other species at CaliforniaHerps.

View images of the Baja California legless lizard on ARKive.

Becky Moran, ARKive Species Text Author

  • Norman How (February 18th, 2012 at 9:24 pm):

    Is this related to the english slow worm, aguis fragilis?

  • Becky (February 20th, 2012 at 10:26 am):

    Hi Norman!

    The Baja California legless lizard belongs to the family Anniellidae, which is in fact the sister family to the English slow worm, Anguidae, so they do share a common ancestor and are related!

    Hope that helps,

  • Norman How (February 20th, 2012 at 11:00 pm):

    Thanks, I wondered because although so much smaller there are similarities.

  • Maggie (March 1st, 2013 at 5:42 pm):

    So does This Legless Lizard Really Live in Baja California