08 August 2018

Bosk's fringe-toed lizard – Abha area

Whilst birding recently in the Abha area I came across two Bosk's fringe-toed lizard Acanthodactylus boskianus both were near to vegetation of low-lying shrubs. This is the most widespread species of its genus as well as the largest Acanthodactylus species throughout its range, measuring 16-23 centimetres in total length, which includes all of Saharan North Africa and the Middle East including Arabia (widespread in Saudi Arabia), the Levant and Mesopotamia (including the Turkish border), as well as north- western Iran. It has a long, cylindrical body and well developed legs and is known as a fringe-toed lizard due to the presence of a series of scales on the fingers that provide traction for running over loose sand. The general body colour of this species ranges from darkish or silvery grey, to yellow or reddish brown, with seven contrasting dark, brown longitudinal stripes that run the length of the back. With age, these stripes generally fade away or become grey in colour. It frequents a range of stony and sandy environments and is sometimes common in rocky areas with some shrubs. They excavate burrows in hard sand, some of which are equipped with multiple entrances to allow quick retreats and act as a nightly resting place and as a refuge from periods of intense heat. They emerge from their burrows around mid-morning. It is a voracious predator and eats a wide variety of small insects and other invertebrates. 
Bosk's fringe-toed lizard