Snake-tailed fringe-toed lizard (Acanthodactylus opheodurus)

Snake-tailed fringe-toed lizard on sand
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Snake-tailed fringe-toed lizard fact file

Snake-tailed fringe-toed lizard description

GenusAcanthodactylus (1)

Owing to its superficial similarity to its larger congener, Acanthodactylus boskianus, the snake-tailed fringe-toed lizard was only officially described in 1980 (2). As its name suggests, this species has a particularly long tail (3), and, in common with other Acanthodactylus species, the toes are fringed with scales adapted for running over loose sand (4) (5). Like other lacertids, the body is long and cylindrical, and the legs are well developed (4). The basic body colour is grey, with seven dark stripes running down the back and sides (2), and a tail tinged red in immatures (3).

Also known as
Arnold’s fringe-fingered lizard.

Snake-tailed fringe-toed lizard biology

There is very little information available on the biology of the snake-tailed fringe-toed lizard. However, this diurnal lizard reportedly lives in burrows excavated out of hard sand. Remaining concealed for all but a few hours of the day, the burrows not only act as a shelter from predators but also provide refuge from extreme temperatures (6).


Snake-tailed fringe-toed lizard range

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 (2).


Snake-tailed fringe-toed lizard habitat

The snake-tailed fringe-toed lizard has been collected from a range of arid habitats, including plains with relatively hard sand cover and low hills covered by dense bushes (2).


Snake-tailed fringe-toed lizard status

The snake-tailed fringe-toed lizard is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Snake-tailed fringe-toed lizard threats

There are not thought to be any major threats to the snake-tailed fringe-toed lizard at present, although overgrazing of its habitat may be a concern in some parts of its range (1).


Snake-tailed fringe-toed lizard conservation

There are no known specific conservation measures currently  in place for the snake-tailed fringe-toed lizard, but it occurs in a number of protected areas, which may offer it some protection (1).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi is a principal sponsor of ARKive. EAD is working to protect and conserve the environment as well as promoting sustainable development in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

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To learn more about reptile conservation visit:

  • International Reptile Conservation Foundation:


This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:



Species belonging to the same genus.
Active during the day.
Old World terrestrial lizards.


  1. IUCN Red List (February, 2013)
  2. Tiedemann, F. (1991) First record of Acanthodactylus opheodurus ARNOLD, 1980, and Coluber ventromaculatus GRAY, 1834 (Squamata: Lacertidae, Colubridae) from the United Arab Emirates. Herpetozoa, 4: 167-175.
  3. Hellyer, P. and Aspinall, S. (2005) The Emirates: A Natural History. Trident Press Limited, United Arab Emirates.
  4. Pianka, E.R. and Vitt, L.J. (2003) Lizards: Windows to the Evolution of Diversity. University of California Press, Berkeley.
  5. Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptile and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  6. Zaady, E. & Bouskila, A. (2002) Lizard burrows association with successional stages of biological soil crusts in an arid sandy region. Journal of Arid Environments, 50: 235–246.

Image credit

Snake-tailed fringe-toed lizard on sand  
Snake-tailed fringe-toed lizard on sand

© Chinthaka Wijesinghe

Chinthaka Wijesinghe
No 107/1, Ruhumu Mw
Sri Lanka
Tel: +94 (92) 691539


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