Sharp-snouted delma (Delma nasuta)

Also known as: sharp-snouted legless lizard
GenusDelma (1)
SizeSnout-vent length: up to 11.2 cm (2) (3)
Total length: up to 44.4 cm (4)
Top facts

The sharp-snouted delma has yet to be classified by the IUCN.

The sharp-snouted delma (Delma nasuta) is an unusual, snake-like lizard which is named for its particularly long, pointed snout (2) (3) (4). Like other Delma species, the sharp-snouted delma lacks front limbs, while its hind limbs are limited to tiny, scaly flaps (2) (4) (5) (6). These flaps completely enclose the much-reduced bones of the legs and toes (4) (5), and give this and other species in the Pygopodidae family the name ‘flap-footed lizards’ (2) (5).

As in other Delma species, the sharp-snouted delma’s tail is longer than its head and body. Although easily broken, the tail can be regenerated (2). Like the geckos to which they are most closely related, Delma species have lidless eyes which are covered by a transparent scale. The sharp-snouted delma is able to keep its eyes clean by wiping them with its wide, flat tongue (2) (5).

The sharp-snouted delma’s scales are smooth and shiny (2) (4) (6), and its body is brown with dark spots or flecks on the scales, giving a reticulated pattern (2) (3). This lizard lacks the dark markings on its head and neck that often characterise related species (2) (4). There are not thought to be any significant differences in appearance or size between the male and female sharp-snouted delma (4).

Like many members of the Pygopodidae family, the sharp-snouted delma is likely to make a low buzzing or squeaking sound if disturbed (4) (6).

The sharp-snouted delma is found only in Australia (1) (2) (4), where it is widespread across the more arid regions in the western parts of the continent (4). Its range encompasses most of Western Australia, as well as South Australia, southern parts of the Northern Territory, and western Queensland (4).

As in other members of the Pygopodidae family, the snake-like body form of the sharp-snouted delma is likely to be an adaptation for moving rapidly through low, dense vegetation (5). This species is particularly associated with spinifex (Triodia) grasslands, typically in areas with sandy or loamy soil (2) (4), such as sand plains and dunes (4).

Like other Delma species, the sharp-snouted delma is likely to be quite secretive, and to retreat rapidly through thick vegetation if disturbed. If attacked by a predator, the sharp-snouted delma may escape by shedding its tail (2).

The diet of the sharp-snouted delma consists mainly of insects, particularly crickets and grasshoppers (5) (7), and it also takes some spiders and other invertebrates (7). All members of the Pygopodidae family lay a clutch of two elongated eggs, which have a parchment-like shell (2) (4) (5) (6).

There is currently very little information available on the potential threats to the sharp-snouted delma.

There are no specific conservation measures currently known to be in place for the sharp-snouted delma. However, it is known to occur on Barrow Island, off the coast of Western Australia, where all reptiles are protected (8).

Find out more about the conservation of reptiles and other species in Australia:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. The Reptile Database (November, 2012)
  2. Wilson, S. (2005) A Field Guide to Reptiles of Queensland. Reed New Holland, Sydney.
  3. Maryan, B., Aplin, K.P. and Adams, M. (2007) Two new species of the Delma tincta group (Squamata: Pygopodidae) from northwestern Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, 23: 273-305.
  4. Kluge, A.G. (1974) A taxonomic revision of the lizard family Pygopodidae. Miscellaneous Publications, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, 147: 1-221.
  5. Wilson, S.K. (2012) Australian Lizards: A Natural History. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
  6. Kluge, A.G. (1976) Phylogenetic relationships in the lizard family Pygopodidae: an evaluations of theory, methods and data. Miscellaneous Publications, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, 152: 1-72.
  7. Patchell, F.C. and Shine, R. (1986) Food habits and reproductive biology of the Australian legless lizards (Pygopodidae). Copeia, 1986(1): 30-39.
  8. Moro, D. and MacAulay, I. (2010) A Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Barrow Island. Chevron Australia, Perth. Available at: