Prince of Thar–Sands of Time…

An adult nipping grass in the morning; notice the bluish tinge on the inner side of the thigh and dorsal part of tail.

An adult nipping grass in the morning; notice the bluish tinge on the inner side of the thigh and dorsal part of tail.

Here is Saara hardwickii , spiny tailed lizards. I observed these lizards in their natural habitat, in the Thar desert in Indian state of Rajasthan. It’s a medium-sized lizard which dwells in semi-arid to arid landscapes of northern India, Pakistan and some regions beyond. A drab colored lizard with a pug head and a distinct fleshy and spiny tail.

Habitat fragmentation and hunting for its tail is the main reason for its dwindling numbers. Folklore has it that its tail has aphrodisiac powers, so its tail is cut and ‘oil’ extracted from it and consumed for the intended purpose.

Interestingly, like iguanas, these lizards also live in a social structure, a ‘society’ composed of adults as well as young ones. They live in ground burrows or termite mounds. Spiny-tailed lizards are diurnal; their activity starts around early morning sun and when the sun sets, surprisingly not even a single individual can be seen! A considerable ontogenic shift in dietary inclination towards herbivory can be seen. Adults feed on grass or diminutive terrestrial flora, whereas young ones are omnivorous, feeding on arthropods.

This fellow was just out of its home and carefully observing its habitat.

This fellow was just out of its home and carefully observing its habitat.

About Harsimran Singh

I am Harsimran Singh from India. I am interested in systematics, ecology and evolution. My keen interest is in how species diverge especially in mountain landscape. Model organisms that I consider for my study are amphibians and reptiles. I am applying morphometric, acoustic and behavioral traits. For my PhD I am working on taxonomy of Pyraustinae and Spilomelinae moths (Crambidae) from Western Ghats and North East India. Photography, filming, music, travelling and reading is what drives my life.

One thought on “Prince of Thar–Sands of Time…

  1. Aren’t young iguanas separated socially from larger conspecifics?
    I like to call uromastiges the rabbits of the desert. They have many similar adaptations. They would also be modern ecological analogs to herbivorous sphenodontids and procolophonids. They are too un-agamid like, and I remember them placed in their own family, why didn’t this arrangement persist?

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