Deserts often contain rich lizard faunas and the Arabian deserts are no exception. We found representatives of 18 species, in 12 genera and 6 families.
Geckos were overwhelmingly the most commonly encountered lizards accounting for two-thirds of the species, and half of the genera and families, with the agamas also well represented with four species in four genera. The lacertids and skinks were surprisingly depauperate.
Bunopus spatalurus hajarensis - Hajar tuberculated gecko
The nominate subspecies, the Arabian tuberculated gecko (Bunopus s. spatulurus) occurs in Yemen and southern Oman while this subspecies, from eastern UAE and northern Oman, is named for the Al Hajar Mountains that dominate the northeastern Arabian Peninsula. We found a single specimen running on the ground in the irrigated garden complex at Wadi Al Helo, eastern Sharjah, UAE.
Hajar tuberculated gecko,
Bunopus spatulurus hajarensis a specimen from Wadi Al Helo, Sharjah, UAE click on the images to enlarge
Bunopus tuberculatus- Southern tuberculated gecko
One of the commonest geckos encountered at night in the desert and on the road in Al Batayeh, we caught several specimens which seemed to vary in their degree of skin rugosity. This species is widely distributed over the entire Peninsula and across Iraq and Iran to the Caspian Sea and Pakistan.
Southern tuberculated gecko,
Bunopus tuberculatus two specimens from Al Batayeh, Sharjah, UAE
Hemidactylus flaviviridis - Yellow-bellied house gecko
The largest gecko encountered, the Yellow-bellied house gecko is commonly encountered on building in the SDP complex. The neck injury is probably the result of copulatory biting.
Yellow-bellied house gecko,
a specimen from SDP, Al Batayeh, Sharjah, UAE
Hemidactylus robustus - Arabian gecko
The smaller Hemidactylus are difficult to distinguish apart since the main characteristics used to separate them are the number of lamellae on the underside of the toes. The most widespread species in the region is the Arabian gecko (H.robustus) but the introduced Turkish gecko (H.turcicus) may also have invaded buildings, while the Persian gecko (H.persicus) is known from a few locations in the UAE. We found and photographed a number of these 'house geckos' on buildings and in the desert at Al Batayeh and further examination may prove that they represent two or more of the above species.
Hemidactylus robustus a specimen from Al Batayeh, Sharjah, UAE
Stenodactylus arabicus - Arabian short-fingered sand gecko
The gracile Arabian short-fingered sand gecko was only found in shifting desert sands at night but it was relatively common. Three were placed overnight in a bucket of sand with several of the other geckos from the desert, pending photography in the morning, but in the morning two had disappeared and predation by Doria's short-fingered gecko (below) is suspected. Note the extensive webbing of the fingers and toes to enhance mobility over loose sand.
Arabian short-fingered sand gecko,
a specimen from Al Batayeh, Sharjah, UAE
Stenodactylus doriae - Doria's short-fingered gecko
A common gecko both in the desert and on the road around Al Batayeh, this is a bold and stout bodied species that will display vigorously at any threat. We noticed considerable variation in colouration between individuals from the same location. This species is widespread across the entire Peninsula.
Doria's short-fingered gecko,
Stenodactylus doriae a specimen from Al Batayeh, Sharjah, UAE
Stenodactylus leptocosymbotus - Omani short-fingered gecko
Only a single specimen was observed at the base of a spiny Acacia at the Wadi Al Helo cliff location. It was possible to determine the species identification by its large head but the individual evaded capture and it was necessary to photograph a specimens form the AWC. The habitat consisted of rocks and boulders on a rock platform with only a sprinkling of loose sand, which seemed to rule out the more saxicolous Doria's short-fingered gecko. The Omani short-fingered gecko is confined to the northeastern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, in north Yemen, Oman and eastern UAE.
Omani short-fingered gecko,
Stenodactylus leptocosymbotus species recorded at Wadi Al Helo, Sharjah, UAE