Legless Lizards vs. Snakes

What’s the Difference?

At first glance, they look exactly the same. Scaley, legless, long, and a bit scary. But if you take a closer look, you see that’s where the resemblance ends. So let’s compare, shall we? It’s time for Legless Lizards vs Snakes!


Snakes evolved from 4-legged snakes. Legless lizards evolved from 4-legged lizards that probably looked a lot like the little guy on the right.

ancestry - legless lizards vs snakes


Snakes tend to stick with prey like birds, lizards, amphibians, other snakes, and mammals, with the occasional egg. Legless lizards tend to go with bugs and small animals, as well as fruits and vegetables.

This is because…


Snakes have the unique ability to unhinge their jaws to fit mouthfuls of prey much larger than they are. But legless lizards can’t unhinge their jaw, so they have to pursue prey smaller than their head.

feeding - legless lizards vs snakes


Snakes don’t have eyelids. Legless lizards do.

eyelids - legless lizards vs snakes


Snakes also don’t have visible ears. But legless lizards do.

ears - legless lizards vs snakes


Snakes have the characteristic forked tongue. Though some lizards also have forked tongues, the legless lizard has a fleshy tongue.

tongue - legless lizards vs snakes


Fun fact: Legless lizards’ bodies are 2/3 tail! And if they’re threatened by a predator, they can lose it for a distraction. Snakes have much shorter tails, less than 1/3 of their length, and they can’t lose it. Also, since tails tend to be more rigid than the rest of the body, this gives snakes their trademark flexibility.

tail - legless lizards vs snakes


Snakes have broad belly scales which enable them to grip the ground and pull themselves along flat surfaces. They also use the muscles along their sides to push off objects in a side-to-side motion. Legless lizards only have side muscles, so if they’re caught on a flat surface like a road, they become literally helpless.

belly - legless lizards vs snakes

In the comparison of legless lizards vs snakes, I conclude that one is graceful and powerful and the other is a awkward little derp of a reptile. 😉 Just kidding…actually they remind me of skinks. 🙂 No offense to you legless lizard lovers out there.

For the rest of you, here’s a video in case you want to know more about this cool reptile.