Egyptian spiny-tailed lizard

Uromastyx aegyptia

An Egyptian spiny-tailed dragon at Hellabrunn Zoo eating from her food bowl. IUCN Red List endangerment category: Vulnerable
  • Family
    Agamids (Agamidae)
  • Weight
    1,5 kg
  • Habitat
    Rocky desert

Surviving in the desert

Spiny-tailed lizards live in the rocky deserts of the Middle East. Their bodies are specially adapted to arid environments. To survive in dry habitats, they extract the water they require from their food, without the need to rely on water sources. The desert-dwelling lizards also conserve water by excreting hardly any moisture. Excess mineral salts are excreted through glands in the nostrils with absolute minimum water wastage.

Hot days, cold nights

Spiny-tailed lizards often seek shelter from the heat in burrows and under rock ledges, where their flattened body is an advantage. During the midday hours, their grey skin is light in colour to reflect the hot rays of the sun and prevent overheating. In the cold morning, the lizards’ skin turns dark grey to help absorb the solar heat and quickly warm the cool body up to normal temperature.

Spiny-tailed lizards have long been considered a delicacy in the Middle East and are also used in traditional medicine.