Whilst birding recently in the Tanoumah area I came across a Snake-tailed Fringe-toed Lizard Acanthodactylus opheodurus down a tree filled wadi.
The lizards were very active even during the hottest part of the day and where always found near small low-lying plants with hard sandy soil. It is superficially similar to its larger congener Acanthodactylus boskianus, and 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.
Jem Babbington is a keen birder and amateur photographer located in Dhahran, Eastern Saudi Arabia where he goes birding every day. Jem was born in England and is a serious local patch and local area birder who has been birding for almost forty years and has birded in more than fifty countries. Jem is learning to ring birds in Bahrain as a perfect way to learn more about the birds of the area. Saudi Arabia is a very much under-watched and under-recorded country.