English name: Short-limbed Supple Skink (aka “Linneaus’ Writhing Skink”)
Scientific name: Lygosoma quadrupes
Thai name: Ching-laen-reao Ka Lek or Mea Ngu
Description: To 20 cm long. Snout to base of tail is up to 9.6 cm. An extremely elongated skink with very small legs. Color varies from grey to yellow-brown to bronze, with very thin dark lines running down the body. Head is small and slender. Tail is as thick as the body and about the same length. Legs and toes are so small they can often be hard to see and the skink will first appear to be a snake. Underside is lighter than rest of body and can have a pinkish tint.
Similar Species: Bowring’s Supple Skink is not as slender, has more distinct limbs, and usually has much more coloration.
Habitat: Naturally found in forests, but has adapted to agricultural land, city parks and empty lots. Usually found under rotten logs or in moist leaf litter and soil.
Contribution to the ecosystem: Helps control insect populations, especially termites. Provides food for snakes and larger lizards.
Danger to humans: This lizard is far too small to bite humans and poses no danger to anyone.
Conservation status and threats: Is a widespread and common species that has no known conservation threats.
Interesting facts: The Short-limbed Supple Skink represents an extreme in leg evolution. The very small legs allow the skink to maneuver through dirt and rotting vegetation without its legs getting in the way. When trying to escape from predators, the skink will fold its legs against its body and wiggle like a snake.
Biodiversity Research & Education Outreach: Lygosoma quadrupes
Thailand Office of Environmental Planning and Policy: A Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles in Thailand
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia