Spinytailed agama

Uromastyx acanthinurus

SUBFAMILY

Leiolepidinae

TAXONOMY

Uromastyx acanthinurus Merrem, 1820, Egypt. Six subspecies are recognized.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Bell's dab lizard, dob lizard; French: Fouette-queue; German: Veranderlicher Dornschwanz.

DISTRIBUTION

The species is found in the Sahara Desert of northern Africa.

HABITAT

These lizards inhabit rocky slopes in small mountain valleys with rich vegetation.

BEHAVIOR

These large lizards dig extensive burrows, into which they retreat (rock crevices are sometimes used as well) when threatened, blocking off the entrance with their very spiny, sharp, and muscular tails. If pursued, they thrash their tails vigorously from side to side; a few blows from this sharp, spiny club discourages most small enemies. These lizards sometimes are found in small colonies of about 20 individuals.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

This lizard forages over large areas, walking a zigzag path. They are vegetarians, eating flower buds of a wide variety of plants. They are especially fond of yellow flowers. In droughts they even subsist by eating wood. The species can survive a fast of an entire year. They have powerful jaws that can shear and crush even hard grains. They also eat insects such as beetles, when they are available.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Courtship takes place from April to June. A complete courtship sequence may take from two hours to an entire day. During courtship the male bites the female's neck and back and curls the base of his tail underneath hers. Females lay two clutches of about 23 eggs in a lateral chamber dug off the main tunnel at a depth of about 23.6 in (60 cm). Hatchlings appear in September or October and have a total length of about 3 in (75 mm). The young eat both insects and flowers. They grow rapidly, reaching 8 in (20 cm) in their first year of life.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

This species is kept in captivity in terraria. ♦

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

These large, flattened lizards have very spiny tails. They are gray, yellowish, or reddish.

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