02 March 2014

Sandfish at Ad Dahna Sands – Record by Cliff Paterson

The Sandfish Scincus scincus is a species of skink that burrows into the sand and literally swims through it. The sandfish is found in northern Africa east into Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran. The animal is also found in the Omani deserts. Adult sandfish usually reach about 20 cm in length, including the short tail that tapers to a point and have developed a peculiar way of dealing with the desert heat; it possesses the ability to dive into soft sand where it closes its bead like eyes to prevent sand entering them. It does this to prevent overheating (as it is cold-blooded) and whenever it feels threatened. The name originated because of its ability to move through sand like a fish and is also known as the Sand Swimmer. It has a wedge-shaped snout with very small nostrils to keep out the sand, long tapered body covered with smooth, shiny scales, legs that are short and sturdy with flattened and fringed feet. The sandfish is primarily nocturnal and is an insectivore that can detect nearby vibrations cause while moving. This beauty was found in the Ad Dahna sands during a winter camping trip. Though generally placid, if provoked, it will deliver a strong bite.