Months of research later… I’ve decided a sheltopusik is the “snake” for me… Advice?

I have to say… when I first saw the sheltopusik (paeudopus apodus), I’m pretty sure I gasped in disbelief. I was aware of legless lizards… just not THIS legless lizard:

I honestly can’t express how in awe of this animal I am without waxing lyrical… it looks like a mythical creature, and combines my favorite aspects of both lizards and snakes (aesthetically and behaviorally)… so suffice it to say… it is my dream pet. :face_holding_back_tears: Having read and watched every scrap of information on the species I could find, I’m left with only one area of concern: they aren’t really being captive bred (outside of major zoological facilities)—at least not yet. Since the species is apparently plentiful across Europe, I’m not necessarily opposed to buying a wild-caught individual… except that I have never gone that route before, and I want to make sure I know the safest possible way to transition them into their new home. Should I have the animal/s seen by an exotics vet for parasites/mites/illness before I even bring them into the house? I would obviously be quarantining them in another room (away from other pets) initially, just like I would any new animal, but are their other measures that should be taken to ensure health?

More specific to the sheltopusik, what is the best way to purchase them? I’ve seen barely a handful for sale in the (almost) year since I started looking into the species… but I’ve definitely seen plenty of herp keepers who own them. Would I be more likely to have luck finding one at an expo, as opposed to finding a breeder online?

Thank you!


So I may not be the absolute best person to answer as I don’t have tons of experience but I just thought I would throw in my thoughts. So over half of my animals are wild caught. Every single one of those are native amphibians that were either rescued (my frog was being kept in atrocious conditions and was in captivity for too long for me to completely release; my salamander struggled to move properly as it had a huge chunk taken out of his leg and a small chunk taken out of another) or for breeding purposes (my two toads). I keep them in quarantine for at least 6 months, usually closer to 8+ months, and closely observe them to make sure that they gain weight and actively hunting. I also make sure they are active and adapting to captivity well. Since they weren’t imported, it eliminated a lot of WC issues such as overcrowding in transport which spreads diseases, huge amounts of stress (anything taken out of the wild will be stressed but locally collected is a lot less stressful than traveling halfway around the world), dehydration, and other shipping issues.

If you do get one, bring it home and let it settle in for a month or two. Once it is eating and appears to be in good shape, decide if you feel a vet visit is necessary. I personally would find out how they were being cared for prior to you acquiring it to see if the conditions they were kept in were overcrowded or allowed for disease to spread easily.

The only place that I can find that has them currently is but I don’t know how well they care for their animals. Nowhere else seems to have them in stock ever and there has been only a few for sale on MM ever.

This is just my opinion but I feel that either finding a rescue that has one available or getting a pair for breeding is the most responsible thing to do.


I don’t know how this works in the US so what I say might not be applicable to your situation, but I thought I should chime in anyway. I wouldn’t buy from anywhere that lets you just add to cart and order an animal. Instead look for reputable sellers who get wild caught animals in and make sure to sell them in good condition. Unfortunately I can’t recommend anywhere as I’m not in the US but hopefully someone else can. Getting one from a rescue or another keeper who’s decided to move theirs on is best, but I imagine they’re hard to find that way. Expos are very hit or miss, you’ll probably find none, you might find a few from a good keeper, or you might find some that have been imported in terrible conditions and the seller will lie thorugh their teeth to sell them to you.

In all honesty, I don’t think anyone should buy wild caught from an importer/shop unless they’re an experienced breeder and are purchasing with the intention of trying to establish a captive bred population.

If you are set on getting this species and you do find one, as logar has already said a long quarantine is vital. I would always bring any wild caught reptile to the vet for a parasite test, as they are good at hiding illness.


Yeah, I saw that place as well… but the reviews I’ve seen were like something from a horror movie. :pensive: Definitely never buying anything from that site, as it sounds like they have zero concern for the animals, and ship them carelessly (with a lot of DoA reports from customers :cry:).

A rescue would be 100% fine by me, but I would LOVE to get hold of a breeding pair. I know they’re a difficult species to successfully breed, but there have been more reports of success popping up in recent years. I honestly believe they have the potential to be a great pet species, due to their fairly straightforward diet, consistent appetite, and decent tolerance toward handling (and that’s in WILD CAUGHT specimens—I would love to see how captive bred babies handle!). There’s also the loooong lifespan to consider (50+ years), and the fact that their teeth are much like a blue tongue’s (not so sharp, lol). So yes, having the opportunity to breed them would be a dream. I really wish they were widely established in captivity, and would love to play any small role in helping that happen.

Yeah, that’s why I prefer a platform like MM, where I can talk to the seller at length, see reviews from past clients, etc… There are lots of great sellers at expos, of course—but it can be hard to spot the “bad apples” at a glance. :weary: Are there any places I should keep an eye on online, for other keepers who might be parting with theirs?

Would you recommend a vet visit first thing, or to let the animal/s have some downtime to de-stress, before putting them through all that? My gut reaction is just to keep any and all parasites or germs out of the house altogether, but I don’t want to stress a new pet to the point of MAKING it sick (due to low immune system). :anguished:

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I have also heard not so great things about them. I would definitely go with someone else.

is there a chance that you could get a hold of an importer? if you have the space, you could import a group of 5-10 (or more if you have the space) and establish them yourself. You could find a pair or trio that you would keep and then sell the remaining ones. That would get rid of the need for the middle man and will allow for the animals to be established properly off the bat.


I would probably do 1-2 months in quarantine before you bring it in to get tested. After that wait out the full 6 month+ quarantine period just in case.


That would be a first for me, but I would be willing to put in the legwork and expenses if it was the surest way to safely acquire potential breeding stock. I’ve been combing through every herp, zoo, research, and wildlife site I could find, and have seen recent successes in breeding these amazing lizards in captivity. Two of the most promising stories came from the Smithsonian here: and this oversight of necessary conditions: Giant Glass Lizards (Scheltopusik)/-/

I can’t claim to be an experienced breeder, but I would gladly put in the time, study, work, and investment for a chance to help establish these incredible animals in captivity. It’s always better to have a healthy, genetically-diverse, captive population of species like these… just in case. Considering how many reptiles are endangered… even ones that are common right now could be facing unforeseen threats (or gradual depletion) in the future. :cry:

That seems like a reasonable way to go about it. I’m guessing if any “red flags” arise (worms in stool, visible “rash”/infection), then a more immediate vet visit is called for?


For sure. Just look for the obvious signs such as stool issues (blood, worms, etc), any sort of infections (fungal, respiratory, etc), or anything out of place. The reason why I think waiting is a good idea is to allow them to destress and get used to captivity. Another reason why is so you can get to know the personality of the animal(s) so that you can learn what to look out for as one animal acting sick may be how another one acts when it is perfectly healthy.

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Have you considered eastern glass lizards? they are pretty much just smaller Sheltopusiks from what I understand. There has also been a lot more success captive breeding with the eastern glass lizards. they are somewhat readily available CB.

I am personally not interested in eastern glass lizards like I am with sheltopusiks. I don’t know why but I just love sheltopusiks way more than eastern glass lizards. I don’t know if you have heard about them so I just thought I would bring them up

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Oh yes, I’ve seen them! I was really amazed that something so visually similar to the sheltopusik existed in the wild in North America… I’ve been reading up on them, and might consider keeping them at some point in time. :slight_smile:

I think our feelings are pretty similar, though—there’s something about the size and appearance of the sheltopusik that just sets it apart from other legless lizards, for me. I love that—at a glance—I can easily confuse close-ups of them (from the neck up) with close-ups of blue tongues. X3

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