26 December 2012

Roughtail Rock Agama‬ (Tabuk) - Record by Viv Wilson

Viv Wilson saw and photographed some Roughtail Rock Agamas in the desert near Tabuk. The Roughtail Rock Agama‬ Laudakia stellio‬ is also known as a Hardim or Star Lizard and is a species of agamid lizard found in Greece, Central Macedonia, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, northern Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, Jordan and Israel. Like many agamas it can change colour to express its moods. The name ‘stellion’ comes from Latin stellio, stēlio (stelliōn-, stēliōn-), which referred to any spotted lizard, from stella star. It has a flat triangular head and a flat short body with long legs. It hibernates during winter. Its diet consists of mainly insects and plants. They are a rock-dwelling species of lizards inhabiting dry areas and even though it is very cautious and hides as soon as it perceives danger, during the mating season the males defend their territory by putting themselves in prominent positions, displaying their intentions by a characteristic nodding movement of the head. It is a large (up to 30 centimetres), robust lizard with a flattened, spiny body, a wide, triangular head, long legs and a long tail. The neck is particularly spiny, and rows of spines run across the body, flanks and tail and is capable of quite rapid colour changes, typically becoming lighter when warm and darker when cold. Dominant male starred agamas are particularly brightly coloured, often showing reddish-brown, turquoise and tan markings. They are generally light or dark brown to grey or charcoal-coloured, with a series of yellowish, diamond-shaped markings along the back. The throat may be flecked with dark spots, and the tail often has conspicuous bars. However, it is quite variable in appearance across its range, with individuals from some areas having pale yellow or red heads and unspotted throats. They have sharp claws that help it to climb on rocks, walls, buildings and trees.