Bulletin 14 - July 1981: The Reptiles and Amphibians of the United Arab Emirates

The Reptiles and Amphibians of the United Arab Emirates

by Peter Dickinson

Very few herpetologists have been lucky enough to seek out and study the reptiles and amphibians of the United Arab Emirates. Those that have, have had little time to cover more than a few restricted locations in making their collections, and yet, in recent years, much new and valuable information has been revealed.

Members of the Emirates Natural History Society are in the enviable position of being able to add much to what has already been learnt. We are here throughout the year, and many of us have occasion to travel throughout the UAE. A simple collection and identification of dead and injured reptiles found at the roadside could quickly provide a useful distribution map for certain species. Identification being the key, it would be important to keep a number of, if not all species, as living or preserved specimens.

I have not come across a list of the complete Herpetofauna of the UAE, so have pieced together the following guide of what can be found here, I'm sure it is far from complete as rumours-of chameleon, cobra and others come to my attention. In fact some of the specimens I have seen cannot be found in the list, and will have to remain off it until positive identification is made.


  • Bunopus abudhabi (Tuberculatus)
  • Bunopus spatalurus
  • Cyrrodactylus scaber
  • Hemidactylus flaviviridis -Yellow Bellied House Gecko
  • Hemidactylus turcicus -Turkish House Gecko
  • Phyllodactylus elisae
  • Phyllodactylus gallagheri -Gallagher's Leaf Toed Gecko
  • Pristurus celerrimus
  • Pristurus rupestris - Dwarf Rock Gecko
  • Ptyodactylus hasselquisti - Fan Footed Gecko
  • Stenodactylus arabicus
  • Stenodactylus khobarensis
  • Stenodactylus leptocosymbotes
  • Stenodactylus major
  • Stenodactylus slevini
  • Tetsoscincus scincus - Sand Gecko


  • Ablepharus pannonicus
  • Chalcides ocellatus - Ocellated Skink
  • Mabuya tessellata
  • Scincus mitranus - Eastern Skink
  • Scincus muscatensis
  • Scincus scincus connirostrus - Iranian Sand Skink

Other Lizards

  • Acanthodactylus cantoris schmidti
  • Acanthodacty'lus gongorhynchatus
  • Agama jayakari - Jayakar's Agama
  • Agama sinaita
  • Eremias adramitana - Racerunner
  • Eremias brevirostris
  • Lacerta cyanura
  • Lacerta jayakari
  • Phrynocephalus arabicus - Toad Headed Agamid
  • Uromastyx microlepis - Thorny Tailed Agama or Dhub
  • Varanus griseus - Desert Monitor

Burrowing Reptiles

  • Diplometopon zarudnyi
  • Eryx jayakari - Sand Boa
  • Leptotyphlops macrorhynchus - Thread Snake


  • Cerastes cerastes - Horned Viper
  • Cerastes cerastes gasperetti - Gasperetti's Horned viper
  • Echis carinatus - Saw Scale Viper
  • Echis colaratus - Arabian Carpet Viper

Other Snakes

  • Coluber rhodorachis
  • Lytorhyachus gaddii - Awl Headed Snake (Leaf nosed snake)
  • Malpolon moilensis - Arabian Rear Fang
  • Psammophis schokari - Hissing Sand Snake

Sea Snakes

  • Hydrophis cyanocinctus - Blue Banded Sea Snake
  • Hydrophis lapemoides
  • Pelamis platurus - Common Yellow and Black Sea Snake


  • Bufo dhufarensis
  • Bufo orientalis


  • Caretta caretta gigas - Loggerhead Turtle
  • Chelonia mydas agassizi - Green Turtle
  • Eretmochelys imbricata bissa - Hawksbill Turtle
  • Lepidochelys olivacea - Ridley Turtle


Arnold, E.N. & Gallagher, M.D. (1977)
Reptiles and Amphibians from the Mountains of Northern Oman
Arnold, E.N. (1977)
Little-Known Geckoes (From Arabia with Descriptions of Two New Species from the Sultanate of Oman)
Arnold, E.N.
Pers. Comm.
Brown, B.
Emirates Natural History Bulletin No.1 (Snakes)
Brown, B.
Emirates Natural History Bulletin No. 11 (A New Snake from Sweihan Area)
Brown, B.
Emirates Natural History Bulletin No. 11 (Reptiles of Abu Dhabi Island)
Breen, J.F. (1974)
Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians
Gasperetti J. (1967)
Survey of the Reptiles of the Sheikdom of Abu Dhabi, Arabian Peninsula. Part 1
Grzimeks Tierleben
Kriechtiere 6 (1971)
Leviton, A.E. & Anderson ,S.C. (1967)
Survey of the Reptiles of the Sheikdom of Abu Dhabi, Arabian Peninsula. Part 2
Pritchard, P.C.H. (1967)
Living Turtles of the World
Satchell, J.E. (1978)
Ecology and Environment in the United Arab Emirates


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