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Dietary habits
As adults they are nearly entirely herbivorous, when it's available, they feed primarily on the common purslane(Portulaca quadrifida), but will normally graze on an assortment of grasses in their environment. Plant species ingested by the species include the shrubby sea-blite (Suaeda fruticosa), Punarnava (Boerhavia diffusa), and nut sedge(Cyperus rotundus).Young animals eat far more insects then their adult counterparts (insect ingestion is thought to be secondary on the part of the latter), feeding on moths, catepillars, beetles, and spiders{3}. Juveniles go through an ontogenic change in dentition, and subsequently diet, as they reach maturity.


These lizards breed after emerging from hibernation, and the period in which they mate is figured to be February-April. Young animals emerge from the adult females' burrow, and can number as many as 16, hinting at a large clutch size{4}. The young measure 5-9cm(1.9-3.5in) in total body length {1} , and become independent after approximately a month when they begin constructing their own burrows. Like the adults, juvenile animals are vulnerable to predation from monitor lizards, foxes, and raptorial birds.


Saara - (  Saara hardwickii  ) : 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia :


Saara hardwickii, commonly known as Hardwicke's spiny-tailed lizard or the Indian spiny-tailed lizard is a species of agamid lizard found patchily distributed in the Thar desert, Kutch, and surrounding arid zones in India and Pakistan. These lizards are mainly herbivorous are live in numbers in some areas. These lizards are found in loose clusters and attract raptors and predators. They are also hunted by local peoples in the belief that the fat extracted from it is an aphrodisiac.

Saara hardwickii

Scientific classification :










Species:S. hardwickii

Binomial name :

Saara hardwickii
(Gray, 1827)

Synonyms :

  • Uromastyx hardwickiiGray, 1827

Taxonomy :


Traditionally this species was placed in the genus Uromastyx, but in 2009 it was moved to the genus Saara together with the closely related S. asmussi and S. loricata.[1]


The specific name, hardwickii, commemorates English naturalist Thomas Hardwicke who brought illustrations of the species from which J.E. Gray described it.[2]


It has been suggested that Uromastyx sensu lato along with the sister group of Leiolepis may be considered as a distinct family, the Uromastycidae, however this is not widely accepted as the rest of the Agamidae do not form a clear sister group.[3]

Distribution :


The type locality for the species is Kanauj district in Uttar Pradesh. It inhabits the dry desert tracts of the northern half of the plains of India into Pakistan. It ranges from Uttar Pradesh in the east to Rajasthan in the West and the Kachchh area of Gujarat. The hot Thar desert is the stronghold of this species and are found extensively in the Jaisalmer, Barmer and Churu districts in Rajasthan. It is also found in some parts of Madhya Pradesh (Rewa).[4]


Local names:

  • Urdu Sanda

  • Hindko - Sap-slinda

  • Punjabi - salma

  • Gujarati - sandho

  • Rajasthani - sanda

  • Konkani -gaar*

Description :

The Hardwicke's spiny-tailed lizard has a rounded head with a flat snout. It is usually yellowish brown, sandy or olive in colour. It may have black spots and vermiculations and a distinctive black spot on the front of the thigh.

It has a dorso-ventrally flattened body with wrinkled skin. It has distinctive tail whorls of spiny scales with large spines on the side which give the lizard its name. The tail is bluish-grey (in Jaisalmer) to sand-coloured (in Kutch).


The colour of the lizards varies and darker colours are seen during the colder seasons.[5]

A juvenile spiny-tailed lizard.

Sexual dimorphism  :  Male ranges from 40 to 49 cm in length while it is 34 to 40 cm in the case of the female. The male has a longer tail than the female and pronounced femoral pores.

Photo gallery :



A view from the rear. Note the rounded head and flat snout.

Laggar falcon (Falco jugger) feeding on a spiny-tailed lizard. The lizard was identified from its remains (tail).

The dorso-ventrally flat body is clearly made out.


Video : 

A front view.

Close up of front half.

Tail of a spiny-tailed lizard which fell prey to a laggar falcon

A tail found below the habitual perch of a tawny eagle.

Hawker selling sanda oil in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Fresh pellet of a tawny eagle which shows spines of a spiny-tailed which it had eaten. The eagle was filmed ejecting this pellet.

Close up of rear half - note the blue-grey spiny tail and toes on the foot.


A dead Uromastyx found on the dunes.

Saara hardwickii - Video Learning -

Indian Spiny-tailed Lizard - Saara hardwickii


courtesy to :

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Iguania
Family: Agamidae
Genus: Saara
Species: Saara hardwickii


This is a large species of desert dwelling agamid, with a body coloration that is predominately mottled yellow and black or brown, but some animals in different locales are more lightly colored. The belly is white, Darker colored individuals, with almost entirely black dorsal coloration, do exist however. The head is short and rounded, and the body is slightly compressed; this helps them squeeze into rock crevices. Like the common name indicates, the tail is covered in short spines, and the tail can be automotized if the animal feels threatened. Sexually mature animals range any where from 15-43cm(5.9-16.9in) in total body length{1,2}. The species was put in the resurrected genus Saara after studies conducted in 2008 concluded that it did not belong in the lumping genus Uromastyx{2}.

Geographic range
This species can be found in the deserts by the Border of India and Pakistan.They craft long, distinct burrows and spend large amounts of time in them. These animals are most active in the earlier parts of the day, and can be commonly found foraging at these times. as temperatures rise, the lizards return to their burrows. Other refuges noted to be used by the Indian spiny tailed lizard include herbacious cover( particularly tall clumps of grasses)and large rocks. Indian spiny tailed lizards utilize a thermoregulation technique that allows them to absorb heat even in cooler temperatures; their body coloration becomes darker as they on large rocks with temperatures are cooler.


References :

{1} Hashmi, M. Usman Ali, and M. Zaheer Khan. "Observation of the Status, Distribution, Habitat and Population Estimation of the Indian Spiny Tailed Lizard Saara hardwickii (Gray, 1827) of Thatta District of Sindh Pakistan." American Journal of Zoological Research 2.3 (2014): 46-50.
{2} Wilms, Thomas M., et al. "On the phylogeny and taxonomy of the genus Uromastyx Merrem, 1820 (Reptilia: Squamata: Agamidae: Uromastycinae)—resurrection of the genus Saara Gray, 1845." Bonner zoologische Beiträge 56 (2009): 55-99.
{3} Das, Sanjay K., et al. "Ecological observations on the Indian Spiny-tailed Lizard Saara hardwickii (Gray, 1827)(Reptilia: Squamata: Agamidae) in Tal Chhapar Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajasthan, India." Journal of Threatened Taxa 5.1 (2013): 3516-3526.
{4} Ramesh, Madhuri, and Ravi Sankaran. "Natural History Observations on the Indian Spiny-tailed Lizard Uromastyx hardwickii in the Thar Desert." Faunal Heritage of Rajasthan, India. Springer New York, 2013. 295-310.


Videos : 

Nat Geo Wild - Secrets of Wild India - Desert Lions EP3

uromastyx hardwickii

Uromastyxs eating red lentils (uromastyx hardwickii and uromastyx geyri )

Indian spiny-tailed lizard


Spiny-tail lizard (Saara Hardwickii) oil being sold to cure impotency in Pakistan

Reptile population under threat from poachers wanting lizard oil

The following painful scenes from India and pakistan .. where these lizards are used to extract the type of oils used for alternative medicine ..

Agamidae :  Introduction 

Agamidae Species : Africa  -  Asia  -  Australia & Papua new guinea

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