20 Aug 2020

Blanford's short-nosed desert lizard - Wannan

Whilst birding the Wannan Area of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia I saw a small lizard in the heat of the day (46 degrees Celsius) in a gravel area with wind-blown sand and small plants. It turned out to be a Blanford's short-nosed desert lizard Mesalina brevirostris a species of sand-dwelling lizard in the family Lacertidae and a species I had not seen previously. It occurs from two localities in Turkey, through much of Syria, eastern Lebanon, and most of Jordan to the northern Arabian Peninsula (northern Saudi Arabia, Kuwait United Arab Emirates), east to Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Punjab, northern India. It occurs from sea level up to at least 900 metres. There is an isolated population in the southern part of the Sinai Peninsula (Egypt), and on the Tiran Islands. It is found in a wide variety of arid areas with hard substrates such as gravelly plains with sparse vegetation, and in coastal areas. It is also known from gravel plains and blown sand areas in wadis. The female lays five clutches of between one and six eggs per year. I thank Mansur Al Fahad, a brilliant local naturalist for his help with the identification of the lizard.
Blanford's short-nosed desert lizard

Blanford's short-nosed desert lizard

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