The spotted toad-headed agama is a member of the Agamidae family, also known as the chameleons of the Old World due to their striking ability to change their body colour (2). As such, the body colour of this lizard is highly variable, but typically has distinct brown bars across the body and tail. It also tends to match the colour of its background and lizards found on pale coastal sands tend to be paler and less patterned than those on red, inland sands (3). The agamid lizards are also known as the chisel-teeth lizards due to the compressed, fused teeth being firmly attached to the upper jaw, unlike most other lizards which have loosely attached teeth (4). The head is short and broad, with a deep forehead and snub nose, and the flattened body is wide and strong and covered in rough skin with overlapping scales (4)(5). The long, flattened tail is rounded at the base and has a black tip on the underside which, when raised, is used in visual signals (4).
Scurrying across the sand, seeking out its insect prey, the spotted toad-headed agama is active in all but the hottest hours of the day. During the hottest periods, it will stand high on extended legs to limit contact with the sand, balancing on fingertips and heels while using the tail as a prop. It may remain dormant during cold winter days (3). The spotted toad-headed agama is able to sink rapidly into the sand by vibrating the body in a process called ‘shimmy burial’, and it uses this behaviour to escape from predators or create a nocturnal shelter (2)(3). Most agamid lizards are egg layers, producing a clutch of one to seven eggs which are incubated for around six to eight weeks in a burrow (4)(5).
Like many other species of reptile in the Middle East, the spotted toad-headed agama is a fairly understudied species. As such, it is currently unclear if there are many major threats to the species (7).
Embed this ARKive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.