Bulletin 37 - March 1989: Reptile Recorder's Report 1988

Reptile Recorder's Report 1988

The year has been good for new species, but a bad one for snakes and turtles. An operation to clear two large residential areas at Rawda al Reef and Ajban resulted in the killing of at least 1700 specimens of six different species of snake. All of them were mutilated but to date 863 have been identified and measured. Of this total 492 (57%) were potentially dangerous vipers. The species identified were Saw-scaled Viper Echis carinatus, Sand Viper Cerastes cerastes, Arabian Rear-fang Malpolon moilensis, Leaf-nose Lytorhynchus diadema, Hissing Sand Psammophis schokari and Sand Boa Eryx jayakari. A full report will be published in a future Bulletin.

Several single specimens of the Carpet Viper Echis coloratus were recorded in wadis around Hatta. The Wadi Racer Coluber rhoderhachis, a harmless species, was seen in Hatta and Hayl.

A new snake, a small Thread Snake Leptotyphlops macrorhynchus (rather like a very thin pink earthworm) was discovered on the archaeological site at Ad-Door by John Martin of the Dubai Group. This is probably the first record for the UAE.

Two lacertid lizards were identified for the first time by the Group. These lizards are fairly common but had always been thought to be a different species from Acanthodactylus schmidti and A. gongrorhynchatus.

I saw more Desert Monitors Varanus griseus than I had seen in the previous 10 years. They were observed along the Suweihan Road, at 'Site 11 on the Al Ain Road and near Ajban. Unfortunately, 2 were dead on the road, but one was collected and is now preserved for our display.

There seemed to be fewer lizards generally in some areas, probably due to their habitats being washed away by the floods. The population of Spiny-tailed Agamids Uromastyx microlepsis along the Suweihan Road still thrives, but may have problems when the new section of dual carriageway is built.

As far as we know there are no frogs in the UAE. Toads are represented by two, possibly three, species, Bufo arabicus, B. orientalis and B. dhufarensis. They breed mainly in wadis and cultivated areas and were prolific in the earlier part of the year.

Numerous turtle shells were seen in the fish souk in Abu Dhabi and abandoned on local islands. This indicates that turtles are still returning, but that killing is probably increasing. We had one report of newly-hatched young turtles swimming offshore but the location of the nesting site is not known. If some form of control is not enforced soon, it is probable that few will remain within a short period of time.

There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done and probably new reptile species to be recorded from the UAE.

J.N.B. 'Bish' Brown


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