Striped Legless Lizard  |  

Delma impar

Status: Vulnerable on the EPBC Act list

The Striped Legless Lizard is a member of the family Pygopodidae, the legless or flap-footed lizards. As with other members of the legless lizard family, Striped Legless Lizards lack forelimbs and have only very reduced hind limbs. These hind limbs are apparent only as small flaps on either side of the vent. Superficially, these animals resemble snakes, but can be readily distinguished from the latter by the presence of external ear openings, a fleshy undivided tongue and a tail which is longer than the body. Striped Legless Lizards can be readily distinguished from other legless lizards by body colouration, body size and head scalation. The Striped Legless Lizard is a pale-grey lizard up to 30 cm in length, with a maximum snout-vent length (SVL) of about 12 cm. Striped Legless Lizards have a long thin body and the tail, when unbroken, is about twice the length of the body. They have a series of stripes on their sides and the sides of their back, becoming diagonal bands on the tail. These stripes are dark-brown or blackish and extend the whole length of the individual from the neck to the tail. Each stripe has individual black-centered scales. However, in some individuals, particularly juveniles, these stripes may be very faint or absent. The head is generally darker than the body, tending to black in juveniles. The underside of Striped Legless Lizards is whitish and they have a blunt snout. The sexes of Striped Legless Lizards appear very similar externally. However, adult males may be distinguished by the presence of a small rounded ‘spur’ under each hind limb flap. There is significant variation in the size of Striped Legless Lizards in different populations in Victoria. A study at Dashwood found the modal size class to be 6.0–6.9 g, while a study at Derrimut Grassland Reserve reported the modal size class to be 3.0–4.1 g. The modal size class of Striped Legless Lizards captured at the Keilor Plains site was 6.0–6.9 g. Some generations (size classes) appeared to be uncommon, suggesting that recruitment may be low in some years. Observations of captive animals suggest that Striped Legless Lizards may skip reproduction when not in prime condition.

Government evidence of impact of climate change:

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  • Australian Government, Conservation Advice, Delma impar

    Threats The striped legless lizard has undergone both historical climatic and recent anthropogenic distributional changes (Maldonado et al.; 2012).
    Fire Inappropriate burn current Fire has been recorded as causing mortality in the timing of grasslands species (Coulson 1995 Walton 1995); but the extent including urban and to which populations are affected is unknown. roadside reserves and Burning at an intensity of greater than once every travelling stock three years could be detrimental to the striped reserves legless lizard as it may reduce vegetation cover and complexity; thus reducing prey availability and potentially increasing the risk of predation.
    Lack of fire (or analogous biomass reduction) may also threaten populations through a reduction in inter tussock space and senescence of tussock forming species such as Kangaroo Grass (Morgan and Lunt 1999).