Saharan Spiny-Tailed Lizard
Uromastyx geyri

Built for Extremes

We get used to some pretty extreme temperatures at the Phoenix Zoo, but we can’t hold a candle to the impressive heat tolerance of Saharan spiny-tailed lizards. These extreme temperature champions have been observed basking in temperatures of over 130 degrees Fahrenheit. As if that weren’t enough, their desert habitat gets extremely cold too! The chill of night can get below freezing, so the spiny-tailed lizards use their impressive claws to dig cozy burrows for safety and warmth.

Get This Lizard a Shield!

You just know spiny-tailed lizards are using those namesake tails for something, right? Maybe to club a meal when feeling hangry? Nope. Largely herbivorous, they tend to just walk and chomp when it comes to food. Perhaps to attack a potential predator or rival lizard? Nope. Their tails are certainly no fun to be hit with, and they will flail them around when threatened, but this species tends to not be aggressive. In fact, one more common behavior is to use the tail as a big shield, blocking the entrance to their burrow from would-be intruders.


Brother of Dragons

As members of the Agamidae family of lizards, these formidable-looking reptiles are closely related to bearded dragons, which are commonly kept as pets. Spiny-tailed lizards are typically smaller than bearded dragons, and they hail from Africa rather than Australia. But the most striking difference is a lack of the characteristic facial hair (or facial … scales) sported by bearded dragons. Saharan spiny-tails are clean-shaven lizards! Unlike most desert denizens, agamidae lizards tend to be active during the day, which is partly why they make popular pets.

Diet: leaves, wildflowers, occasional invertebrates when young

Zoo Diet: herp salad, invertebrates

Habitat: desert, rocky areas

Size: 11 – 14 inches

Plan your visit today!

The Phoenix Zoo is one of the largest non-profit zoos in the U.S., caring for over 3,000 animals, with nearly 400 species represented, including many threatened/endangered species.