Photo of the month – the elusive Delma impar

The Striped Legless Lizard (Delma impar) is a species that has mastered elusiveness. They shelter and nest in soil cracks, and utilise surrounding grassy vegetation and rocks to keep well hidden during their daytime movements. These small reptiles are in fact not totally legless – they have two very small hind leg flaps, and are also characterised by a thick olive dorsal stripe and thinner dark lateral stripes. The lizard in this photo of the month is a juvenile – having a distinct dark head, and faint or absent dorsal stripe.

Part of their elusiveness is possible by their heat regulation – unlike ‘basking’ reptiles, the Delma rely on heat exchange with the ground so they do not need to regularly ‘sun’ themselves in the open.

Striped Legless Lizard (Delma impar) at Long Point Restoration Reserve. Photo: Jonathan Tuck.

This lizard was found during reptile surveys using tile grids at NGT’s Long Point Restoration Reserve, an ongoing monitoring program that occurs across areas of both remnant Plains Grassy Woodland and improved pasture.

The Striped Legless Lizard is endangered nationally, with the vast majority of its habitat (predominantly within the Victorian Volcanic Plains) cleared or degraded.

If you ever find a puzzling series of rooftiles on a property or a roadside grassland, take care not to disturb or damage them – they’re probably part of a reptile survey!

Lauren Kivisalu