Some lizards have small limbs or no limbs at all. This makes them resemble snakes around the world.
Limbless lizards can sometimes actively mimic snakes, mainly to stay safe in front of predators.
They can flick their tongues or they can live in burrows, much like different species of snakes.
Some of the following lizards resemble North American snakes while others mimic snakes around the world.
1. Eastern Glass Lizard
This lizard (Ophisaurus ventralis) is known to move directly on its belly as it doesn’t have any legs. This makes it look like a snake, especially since it moves with side-to-side movements.
You can find the Eastern Glass Lizard in the Southeastern US states, including Florida.
This species has black stripes on its dorsum, together with gray contrasting colors. White colors are specific to its sides while its ventral color is cream to white.
A slow-movement reptile, the Eastern Glass Lizard eats snails and even small mice, just like real snakes.
This species is mostly present in moist habitats. It prefers moist woodlands and marshes or any other dense vegetation area close to water.
While common in Florida, the species may also be elusive as it spends its days both above the ground and in the ground.
This species lays eggs for reproduction.
2. Slender Glass Lizard
This brown lizard (Ophisaurus attenuatus) has dark gray and black stripes that run from its head to the tip of its tail.
Most adults lose the tip of their tail at some point in their lives. This is a survival technique as these types of lizards can shed their tails easily.
They do this to avoid predators such as actual snakes.
You can differentiate Slender Glass Lizards from snakes by their movable eyelids. If inspected from a close distance, Slender Glass Lizards also show ear an opening that resembles ears on their head.
Insects and small animals such as small mice are among its common prey.
Slender Glass Lizards are native to North America but becoming endangered in some US states. This species is abundant in other areas where human impact such as heavy insecticide use on crops isn’t present.
3. San Diegan Legless Lizard
This species of lizard (Anniella stebbinsi) has adapted to living without legs. The Sand Diegan Legless Lizard that looks like a snake has muddy-gray color.
A narrow mid-dorsal black stripe is seen on this fossorial species.
Much of its life is spent underground, particularly in sandy California soils. This is a lizard found in Southern California as well as in Baja California.
Its dark color and black head might make it similar to mudsnakes but this species is a type of lizard.
Sometimes confused with earthworms, this type of lizard is also short. It rarely grows to a size of 5 or more inches.
4. Northern Legless Lizard
Northern Legless Lizards (Anniella pulchra)are among the lizards that look like silver snakes.
The central dorsal section of the species has a distinct silver color while the rest of its body is black and its ventral color is cream-yellow.
Northern Legless Lizards are also highly fossorial but they are found along the Western part of California from its Northern limits down to Baja California.
This is one of the larger lizards that look like small snakes as they can grow to a length of over 7 inches, as opposed to the smaller length of the San Diegan Legless Lizard.
These 2 native species have overlapping habitats in Southern California.
Some days, these types of lizards can be seen above the ground, mainly looking for food. They eat ants, termites, and bugs such as various small beetles.
5. Florida Sand Skink
Some of the most atypical skinks are Florida Sand Skinks (Plestiodon reynoldsi). These types of lizards have small front and rear legs with just a few toes each.
Central parts of Florida represent a natural habitat for the Florida Sand Skink.
As a species that spends much of its time in or above the ground, this lizard is easy to identify based on its pink or various shades of gray-tan.
This lizard has a reduced size compared to snakes, as it grows to 4-5 inches.
Often found on sandy loose soil terrains, this is a species that may only feed on small insects such as ants. It can also eat the larvae of different bugs.
6. Island Glass Lizard
Native to the US, The Island Grass Lizard (Ophisaurus compressus) is one of the species found in Florida.
It can be found in all areas of the state except the extreme Southern Florida habitats.
This lizard has a snake-like appearance which contrasts its sandy habitat close to water.
Black stripes and spots are seen on the dorsal side of this lizard. Brown and tan colors are also specific to this species.
Sometimes mistaken for small snakes, this species blinks, which helps with correct identification.
7. Little Brown Skink
This species (Scincella lateralis) lives in Central, Southern, and Southeastern US states. While it has short legs, it’s often taken for a snake species given it has similar habitats to various snakes.
It lives in woodlands where it prefers to make a quick escape in leaf litter in front of perceived danger. This is a species with dark colors, similar to garter snakes.
It has brown mid-dorsal coloring and black lateral colors.
Gray coloring might be solely seen on the tail of Little Brown Skinks.
This species shares some habits with snakes, such as laying eggs in loose sandy soils.
Unlike snakes, Little Brown Skinks are smaller. They grow to a maximum length between 3 and 5 inches but they can be shorter when they lose their tails.
8. Common Slowworm
Various shades of brown and gray and a legless body make this species resemble short snakes.
Common Slowworms (Anguis fragilis) are native to Western and Central Europe and they have an introduced status elsewhere.
Gray base color and white or gray dorsal patches are specific to this species.
Other morphs include tan and black lizards as well as off-white color variations.
These lizards are a common sight in Europe but their prevalence, reduced size, and no real defense mechanisms make them vulnerable to predators.
Crops, farmland, and suburban areas are the habitats where this species often prey on cows, foxes, and snakes.
9. Italian Slowworm
Italian Slowworms (Anguis veronensis) are an example species of lizards that look like snakes in Europe. This lizard originates in The Verona region of Italy.
Its habitat has spread to regions of France over the past few years.
In the Northern parts, the lizard has expanded its territory high into the Swiss Alps.
Most lizards of the species are found around oak woodlands. They crawl through the ground, under leaf litter, and in open woodland areas.
They have a gray-brown color or a tan color which makes them resemble their natural ecosystem.
This species can be distinguished from other European lizards by its thin black dorsal stripes and by its black coloring around the mouth.
10. Cape Snake Lizard
Native to regions of Africa, Cape Snake Lizards (Chamaesaura anguina) are among the species with a gray-brown color and a striped body.
These lizards resemble many local stripes snakes. Brown, tan, and yellow-white stripes cover its body.
Cape Snake Lizards have a larger head compared to the width of the body. They are different from snakes in movements but they are also different in breeding intervals.
Recent discoveries show female Cape Snake Lizards don’t have a set breeding season as they can breed at any moment once they reach sexual maturity.
11. Burton’s Snake-Lizard
Burton’s Snake Lizard (Lialis burtonis) is a species that resembles small snakes in color, shape, and movement.
Unlike snakes, it has hind legs, but it cannot rely on them considerably due to its small size.
Native to Australia, this is a species that has uniform gray coloring in its juvenile days.
As it matures, it becomes a striped lizard with contrasting colors. Black, brown, and white stripes start to be visible on its gray body.
This is the type of species that eats skinks and even small snakes also native to its natural Australian and Tasmania habitat.
12. Common Scaly-foot
This type of long lizard (Pygopus lepidopodus) has brown-red coloring and a distinct brown head.
Often taken for a small snake, the lizard is native to all Southern Australia regions. A docile species, the lizard is often kept in captivity, as a pet lizard.
This legless lizard looks like a snake but it also mimics their behavior.
For example, lizards flick the tip of its tongue similarly to snakes. It may also raise its head to get into a defensive position similar to some snake species.
The slender lizard lays eggs in sandy soils. Unlike most snakes and lizards, it may only lay 1-2 eggs at once.
13. European Legless Lizard
This is one of the largest lizards (Pseudopus apodus) that look like snakes in Europe. Its legless body can be white and yellow or various shades of gray.
Size of over 4 feet is reached by some of the largest European Legless Lizards.
Its large size allows the species to possess defensive techniques such as hissing and releasing a foul smell.
This large lizard is known to eat different small rodents, worms, and spiders.
European Legless Lizards are also prey for larger snakes in their natural habitat.
A common pet lizard, the European Legless Lizard is known to bite, especially when roughly handled.
14. Eastern Slowworm
Eastern Slowworms (Anguis colchica) are native to Europe and Asia. Woodlands represent ideal habitats, especially those with deciduous trees such as oak.
These woodlands provide sufficient hiding spots such as under leaves on the ground or under dead wood as well as plenty of food for the slowworm.
Caterpillars and other soft-bodied prey such as slugs form the bulk diet of the species.
A reduced oak woodland habitat is one of the major threats to the existence of this species.
You can distinguish Eastern Slowworms through their brown coloring and dorsal stripes.
Growing to a size of over 20 inches, these lizards are facing decreasing numbers and are even declared a protected species in countries with diminishing oak woodland surfaces.
15. Transvaal Snake Lizard
Transvaal Snake Lizards (Chamaesaura aenea) resemble snakes but they have very small front and rear legs. These legs are barely visible but they can be used for movement and balance.
A semi-aquatic species, the lizard is found in Southern African territories including Swaziland.
Distinct stripes make the species stand out on rocky terrains around water sources.
It features bright yellow stripes and dark brown dorsal coloring. The species has light brown to gray ventral coloring.
A once common species, Transvaal Snake Lizards are almost extinct in many native African regions today.
16. Western Hooded Scaly-Foot
These small lizards (Pygopus nigriceps) are native to Central and Western Australia. It has brown or gray-olive colors while its head is typically black.
These types of lizards are often confused for snakes, but they share some of their behavioral traits with other species such as crocodiles.
For example, Western Hooded Scaly-Foot lizards know how to bite the prey and roll over to kill the prey quickly while also preventing an escape, a technique seen in crocodiles.
Many species of spiders and scorpions are on its list of common prey.
17. Eastern Scaly-Foot
This species (Pygopus schraderi) is native to the Eastern and Northeastern plains of Australia. It comes in brown and gray colors and it mimics snakes in its limbless look.
The Eastern Scaly-Foot lizard can flick its tongue in front of enemies, much like many species of snakes.
It can also elevate its head in a defensive position when facing predators or humans.
Growing to a size of just a few inches, this lizard feeds on spiders.
It’s also food for other species in the food chain such as predatory birds.
Most Eastern Scaly-Foot lizards aren’t easy to spot as they only come out at night. Even as a nocturnal species, they don’t move much and they aren’t always looking for food like other types of Australian lizards.