Meet the colour-changing, herbivorous spiny-tailed lizard
A Rajasthan sanctuary recently received a protective cover against a proposed move by the State government to reduce the size of its eco-sensitive zone, according to daily The Hindu. The Tal Chhapar sanctuary has large colonies of the herbivorous spiny-tailed lizard. Photo- Vikas Choudhary/CSE
The Rajasthan High Court intervened through a suo motu public interest litigation to protect the sanctuary, noting many exotic species had been destroyed or relocated from it. Indian spiny-tailed lizard plays a significant ecological function by serving as prey to foxes, raptors, crows and snakes that share its ecosystem. Photo- Vikas Choudhary/CSE
The lizard is the only herbivorous lizard in the Indian subcontinent. While the adults are herbivorous, juveniles may opportunistically feed on insects. Popularly known as ‘Sandha’ or ‘Sandho, it is one of the 231 lizard species found in the country. Taxonomically, it is placed in the class Reptilia, order Squamata and Family Agamidae. Photo- Vikas Choudhary/CSE
The species is listed in the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Poaching, trade, or any other form of utilisation of this species or any of its body parts is a punishable offence. Its international trade is further regulated under the multilateral treaty CITES. Photo- Vikas Choudhary/CSE
The reptile is herbivorous, solitary and burrow-dwelling, found in the arid and semi-arid regions of north-western India. In India, it can be found in Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Photo- Vikas Choudhary/CSE
Its body colour changes with temperature. As the lizard becomes warmer, its body turns pale brown or beige with little orange patches on the back. The tail appears azure blue in the species found in Rajasthan. At extremely hot temperatures, it appears almost white in colour. Photo- Vikas Choudhary/CSE
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