Pallas's glass lizard, European legless lizard

Pseudopus apodus
Population size
Life Span
50 yrs
135 cm

The sheltopusik is a large glass lizard found in Europe and Asia. It is tan colored, paler on the ventral surface and the head, with a ring-like/segmented appearance that makes it look like a giant earthworm with a distinctive fold of skin down each side, called a lateral groove. Small rear legs that measure around 2 mm are sometimes visible near the cloaca. Though the legs are barely discernible, the sheltopusik can be quickly distinguished from a snake by its ears, eyelids, and ventral scales.



Sheltopusiks are found from Southern Europe to Central Asia. They prefer dry habitats and live in the open country, such as short grassland, sparsely wooded hills, vegetated rocky slopes, foothills, valleys of the river, shrubs, or near to human settlements.

Sheltopusik habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Sheltopusiks are solitary diurnal reptiles. They and most active in wet weather when they come out to hunt for their favorite prey snails and slugs. Due to their size, sheltopusiks usually respond to harassment by hissing, biting, and musking. They are less likely to drop off their tail than some other species that display caudal autotomy. However, these occasional displays of caudal autotomy are responsible for the name "glass lizard" (or "glass snake"). The released tail may break into pieces, leading to the myth that the lizard can shatter like glass and reassemble itself later. In reality, if the tail is lost, it grows back slowly, but is shorter and darker; it may grow back to full length as it grows.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Sheltopusisks are carnivores. They feed on arthropods, insects, eggs, small mammals, and birds.

Mating Habits

45-55 days
8 eggs

The mating system of sheltopusiks is unknown. About 10 weeks after mating, the female lays about 8 eggs, which she hides under bark or a stone, and often guards them. The young hatch after 45 to 55 days. They are typically about 15 cm (5.9 in) long and usually start to eat after 4 days.


Population threats

There are no major threats to sheltopusiks at present. In some areas of their range, they suffer from habitat loss and may be occasionally killed because of being confused with snakes.

Population number

According to IUCN, the sheltopusik is locally common throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The sicientific name of the zheltopusik 'Pseudopus apodus' comes from greek ψευδοποδος άποδος, literally meaning 'fakeleged without legs'.
  • The common name of this lizard 'sheltopusik' comes from Russian желтопузик (zheltopuzik) and means 'yellow-bellied'.
  • Sheltopusiks are frequently available in the exotic pet trade, though rarely captive-bred. They do not typically tolerate a large amount of handling, but they adapt to captivity well.


1. Sheltopusik on Wikipedia -
2. Sheltopusik on The IUCN Red List site -

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