Schmidt’s fringe-toed lizard (Acanthodactylus schmidti)

Schmidt's fringe-toed lizard head detail
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Schmidt’s fringe-toed lizard fact file

Schmidt’s fringe-toed lizard description

GenusAcanthodactylus (1)

Named after Karl Patterson Schmidt (an American herpetologist), Schmidt’s fringe-toed lizard (Acanthodactylus schmidti) is one of the more common and abundant species in the genus Acanthodactylus (2) (3). Consistent with its name, Schmidt’s fringe-toed lizard has ‘fringes’ of elongated scales along the sides of each toe. The scales on the head are generally larger than on the rest of the long, cylindrical body, and the smooth, rectangular scales on the belly are arranged in well-defined rows (2) (4). Schmidt’s fringe-toed lizard is typically coffee-coloured, with a pattern of small, oval-shaped, pale or white spots (2) (4) (5) (6).


Schmidt’s fringe-toed lizard biology

There is very little information available on the biology of Schmidt’s fringe-toed lizard. However, it is thought that sand-dwelling species of the Acanthodactylus genus rely heavily on ants as prey (6), while a study on the habitat of Schmidt’s fringe-toed lizard suggests that this diurnal species digs burrows among the roots of some shrubs(7).

The remarkable fringes on the toes of Schmidt’s fringe-toed lizard are essentially elongated scales, which are thought to provide better traction on loose sand, allowing it to move much more efficiently across the desert (2) (4) (8) (9). A study on the evolution of lizard toe fringes has found that, contrary to most other species, lizards in the genusAcanthodactylus have fringes that are different shapes on either side of the toe, with ‘triangular’ shaped scales on one side, and ‘projecting’ scales on the other (9).

Schmidt’s fringe-toed lizard is an egg-laying species (1).


Schmidt’s fringe-toed lizard range

Schmidt’s fringe-toed lizard occurs throughout the Arabian Peninsula, including the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, south east Iraq and south west Iran (3).  


Schmidt’s fringe-toed lizard habitat

Schmidt’s fringe-toed lizard occupies sandy plains, dunes and sabkahs (salt flats), particularly in areas of scrubby vegetation (2) (5) (6) (7).


Schmidt’s fringe-toed lizard status

Schmidt’s fringe-toed lizard is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Schmidt’s fringe-toed lizard threats

Schmidt’s fringe-toed lizard is a widespread and common species, and is not currently considered to be at risk of extinction. There are no major threats to this lizard at present (1).


Schmidt’s fringe-toed lizard conservation

There are no known specific conservation measures currently in place for Schmidt’s fringe-toed lizard. However, this species occurs in many protected areas throughout its range, such as the Wadi Ramm Protected Area in Jordan (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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  1. IUCN Red List (February, 2013)
  2. Hellyer, P. and Aspinall, S. (2005) The Emirates: A Natural History. Trident Press Limited, United Arab Emirates.
  3. The Reptile Database (October, 2010)
  4. Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  5. UAE Interact (October, 2010)
  6. Fuelner, G. (2001) Fringe-toed Lizards. Gazelle Newsletter November 2001. Emirates Natural History Group, Dubai. Available at:
  7. Aldakhil, M.A. (1988) The habitat and systematics of Acanthodactylus schmidti Hass (1957) (Sauria, Lacertidae).Journal of the College of Science. King Saud University, 19(2): 89-95.
  8. Pianka, E.R. and Vitt, L.J. (2003) Lizards: Windows to the Evolution of Diversity. University of California Press, Berkeley.
  9. Luke, C. (1986) Convergent evolution of lizard toe fringes. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 27: 1-6.

Image credit

Schmidt's fringe-toed lizard head detail  
Schmidt's fringe-toed lizard head detail

© Tommy Pedersen

Tommy Pedersen


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