Schreiber's fringe-fingered lizard (Acanthodactylus schreiberi)

Schreiber's fringe-fingered lizard
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Schreiber's fringe-fingered lizard fact file

Schreiber's fringe-fingered lizard description

GenusAcanthodactylus (1)

Schreiber’s fringe-fingered lizard (Acanthodactylus schreiberi) is named after Egid Schreiber, an Austrian-born zoologist (2). This species belongs to the Lacertidae, a family of lizards which all have a fringe of pointed scales along their long, agile toes which allows them to run easily across loose, hot sand (3) (4).

Schreiber’s fringe-fingered lizard has versatile skin colouring, allowing it to become well camouflaged within its sandy habitat (4).


Schreiber's fringe-fingered lizard biology

Schreiber’s fringe-fingered lizard is generally active during the day, and will take advantage of the pointed scales on its toes to chase after prey across the hot sand (4).

This species burrows in order to avoid the high desert temperatures, and will do so by shimmying from side to side until it has sunk into the sand. To prevent sand entering the nose and mouth, Schreiber’s fringe-fingered lizard has special adaptations, including valves in the nostrils (3).

The female Schreiber’s fringe-fingered lizard will produce a clutch containing up to four eggs (1).


Schreiber's fringe-fingered lizard range

Schreiber’s fringe-fingered lizard is found in coastal areas of the Eastern Mediterranean (1), including areas of Cyprus, Israel, Lebanon and Turkey (1) (2). This species only occupies a small, fragmented range within each of these countries, including a narrow coastal strip in Israel. In suitable habitat fragments in Cyprus, this species can be relatively common, although in Turkey it is very rare (1).

It is thought that Schreiber’s fringe-fingered lizard may also be found in Egypt, but this requires confirmation (1).

There are two recognised subspecies of Schreiber’s fringe-fingered lizard. Acanthodactylus schreiberi schreiberi is found in Lebanon and other continental areas, while Acanthodactylus schreiberi syriacus is found in Cyprus (2).


Schreiber's fringe-fingered lizard habitat

Stabilised coastal sand dunes and light soil near to dunes are the preferred habitat of Schreiber’s fringe-fingered lizard (1) (4). It can also be found close to sand dunes in newly created cultivated areas with sandy soil. It is not found in areas where competing Acanthodactylus species are present (1).

Schreiber’s fringe-fingered lizard is generally unable to tolerate disturbance, yet in Israel it can be found in open orchards with suitable substrate (1).


Schreiber's fringe-fingered lizard status

Schreiber’s fringe-fingered lizard is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered


Schreiber's fringe-fingered lizard threats

Coastal urbanisation, including the development of facilities for the tourism industry, is a key threat to Schreiber’s fringe-fingered lizard. Sand extraction from beaches for building purposes and human disturbance due to high tourism levels are also threats to this species (1).

Habitat loss in Beirut as a result of the construction of refugee camps is thought to have led to the extinction of Schreiber’s fringe-fingered lizard in the area (1).

In Turkey, future threats to this species include industrial activities and a planned petrol pipeline project within its habitat, as well as pollution (1).


Schreiber's fringe-fingered lizard conservation

Schreiber’s fringe-fingered lizard occurs in a number of protected areas in Cyprus, and one in Lebanon known as Tyr Beach, although this site suffers from human disturbance as a result of tourism. In Israel, Schreiber’s fringe-fingered lizard is protected by national legislation. It occurs within two protected areas in Israel, but it is not found within any in Turkey (1).

Proposed conservation measures for Schreiber’s fringe-fingered lizard include preventing additional habitat loss, and carrying out further research into the range of this species. Habitat restoration in coastal dune areas has also been suggested (1).


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A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.


  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2011)
  2. The Reptile Database - Schreiber’s fringe-fingered lizard (November, 2011)
  3. Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  4. Blondel, J., Aronson, J. and Bodiou, J-Y. (2010) The Mediterranean Region: Biological Diversity in Space and Time. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Image credit

Schreiber's fringe-fingered lizard  
Schreiber's fringe-fingered lizard

© Aviad Bar

Aviad Bar


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