Photos Show Bizarre Snake-Like Lizard That Appeared in Hotel

Photos shared by an Australian snake catcher show a bizarre snake-like lizard that was found lurking in a hotel during a conference.

Sean Cade, founder of snake removal business Australian Snake Catchers, was called to catch a red-bellied snake at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Windsor, near Sydney. Red-bellied snakes are one of the most frequently encountered snakes in Australia.

When the snake catcher arrived, the creature had been captured under a cooking pot. However, as Cade lifted the pot to reveal the snake, he found it wasn't a snake at all, but a common scaly-foot, which is a type of legless lizard.

Sharing photos of the catch on Facebook, the snake catcher said this "awesome creature" was a "super cool surprise." Many people mistake these lizards for snakes, he said.

Cade told Newsweek that this lizard was about a foot long overall, with its body and tail both similar in size. On average, these lizards usually grow to about 9 inches, making this one slightly larger than usual.

Once the snake catcher had removed the lizard, he said the patrons were able to continue their conference.

The common scaly-foot lizard is one of the largest legless lizards native to Australia. They are harmless to humans but may flicker their tongue, similar to a snake, when threatened.

There are several ways the scaly-foot lizard can be told apart from snakes. Snakes tend to have longer bodies and shorter tails. Most lizards have eyelids and external ears, while snakes just have something called a brille, which is a scale attached to each eye.

Legless lizard
Cade's photos show the snake-like creature trapped under a pot. Australia Snake Catchers

Cade said the common scaly-foot lizard has flaps on either side of its flank, which are the ancestry remnants of its legs. This is where the name "scaly foot" comes from. Snakes have almost no external appendages at all.

The two species can also be told apart by their preferred prey items. Depending on the species, snakes tend to hunt large prey such as birds and smaller mammals, while the lizard sticks to a diet of insects, spiders and fruits.

Most limbless lizards have a burrowing lifestyle and have evolved without legs to make it easier to move underground.

These lizards are usually active between dusk or dawn and can be nocturnal when the temperatures are high. It is currently the height of summer in Australia, making this scaly-foot lizard sighting quite rare. It is found mostly in the southern and eastern parts of Australia, though there are several other populations scattered in Queensland.

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