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Spade-Headed Wormlizards: Trogonophidae

No Common Name (agamodon Anguliceps): Species Account

Physical characteristics: Agamodon anguliceps has a short shovel-shaped head and a sharp-sided face. Its back is mottled with yellow and dark brown to brownish purple blotches, and its underside is pink to purplish pink. Its tiny squarish scales form rings around its body. It grows to about 4 to 8 inches (10 to 18 centimeters) in length.

Geographic range: This species lives in eastern Ethiopia and Somalia along the eastern edge of central Africa.

Habitat: They tunnel in loose and sandy soils.

Agamodon anguliceps lives in eastern Ethiopia and Somalia along the eastern edge of central Africa.) (Illustration by John Megahan. Reproduced by permission.

Diet: Scientists have not studied this animal in the wild, but they suspect that it eats termites, grubs, and other invertebrates (in-VER-teh-brehts), which are animals without backbones. In captivity, however, this wormlizard can also attack and kill larger vertebrate prey, which they then eat by biting off and chewing up the pieces. Vertebrates (VER-teh-brehts) are mammals and other animals that have backbones.

Behavior and reproduction: Like other members of this family, this species digs its tunnels by swiveling its head and using the sharp sides of its face to slice through the soil. It appears to stay closer to the surface of the ground during the night and move deeper into the soil in the daytime. When it feels threatened, it flips onto its back to show off its pink underside and then plays dead. Scientists know almost nothing about its reproduction, but they believe that the females probably lay eggs.

Agamodon anguliceps and people: People and this wormlizard rarely see one another.

Conservation status: This species is not considered endangered or threatened, but scientists know little about them in the wild.



Burnie, David, and Don Wilson eds. "Amphisbaenians." The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife New York: DK Publishing, 2001.

Gans, C. Biomechanics: An Approach to Vertebrate Biology. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1974.

Schwenk, K. Feeding: Form, Function, and Evolution in Tetrapod Vertebrates. San Diego: Academic Press, 2000.

Vanzolini, P. E. Evolution, Adaptation and Distribution of the Amphisbaenid Lizards (Sauria: Amphisbaenidae). Ph.D. diss. Harvard University, 1951.

Web sites:

"Amphisbaenia." Virtual Museum of Natural History. http://www.curator.org/LegacyVMNH/WebOfLife/Kingdom/P_Chordata/ClassReptilia/O_Squamata/InfraAmphisbaenia/amphisbaenia.htm (accessed on November 15, 2004).

"Family Trogonophidae (Shorthead Worm Lizards)." EMBL Reptile Database. http://www.embl-heidelberg.de/uetz/families/Trogonophidae.html (accessed on November 15, 2004).

"The Keeping and Maintenance of Amphisbaenians." Cyberlizard. http://www.nafcon.dircon.co.uk/amphisb1.html (accessed on November 15, 2004).

"Order Squamata, Suborder Amphisbaenia (worm-lizards)." San Francisco State University. http://online.sfsu.edu/uy/AnimDiv/lab/lab8/Biol171Lab8.html. (accessed November on 15, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceDinosaurs, Snakes, and Other ReptilesSpade-Headed Wormlizards: Trogonophidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, No Common Name (agamodon Anguliceps): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, SPADE-HEADED WORM LIZARDS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS