18 August 2016

Snake-tailed Fringe-toed Lizard - Tanoumah

Whilst birdwatching near Tanoumah I found a Snake-tailed Fringe-toed Lizard. Owing to its superficial similarity to its larger congener Acanthodactylus boskianus, the Snake-tailed Fringe-toed Lizard Acanthodactylus opheodurus was described officially in 1980. As its name suggests, this species has a particularly long tail and, in common with other Acanthodactylus species, the toes are fringed with scales adapted for running over loose sand. Like other lacertids, the body is long and cylindrical, and the legs are well developed, with the animal having a basic body colour of grey, with seven dark stripes running down the back and sides and a tail tinged red in immatures. They live in a range of arid habitats, including plains with relatively hard sand cover and low hills covered by dense bushes. It is a diurnal lizard and lives in burrows excavated out of hard sand where it remains concealed for all but a few hours of the day. Their burrows not only act as a shelter from predators but also provide refuge from extreme temperatures. The snake-tailed fringe-toed lizard is currently known from the Arabian Peninsula and several other countries in the Middle East, including Jordan, Kuwait and Iraq. I thank Mansur Al Fahad for confirmation on identification of this record.