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Spotted Round-headed (Phrynocephalus maculatus)

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Spotted Round-headed (Phrynocephalus maculatus)

In the 70s. Turkmen zoologists found on the southern outskirts of Karakum spotted round head, a new species for our fauna, whose range lies from the Arabian Peninsula to Pakistan.

A colleague who came from Ashgabat presented me with a photograph of a lizard and invited me to see the round-headed in nature. Several years passed before I was able to go to Ashgabat for a conference, and at the same time visit the salt marsh where the spotted round-headed head lives.

We drive along the asphalt highway to the Bami station, not far from the famous Baharden cave, at the bottom of which there is an underground lake with clear and warm water. The cave was once famous for its myriad hordes of bats, most of which were destroyed by man. Having examined the deep cave and climbed up a steep staircase, we continued on our way, admiring the Kopetdag mountain ranges passing by us. But here we are, and I can't wait to see the animals as soon as possible. The first thing that struck me was the habitat of the round-headed, which is a salt marsh with outcrops of salt and gypsum, most of which is devoid of vegetation. In the north, the salt marsh is bounded by sand dunes, from where the steppe agama and ruled foot-and-mouth disease “seep”, and takir round-headed heads are found in the southern part of the salt marsh. The salt marsh is small, and spotted roundheads prefer to settle in its bare areas. This is not to say that this is a rare reptile - we have come across lizards constantly. Compared to other species, these are larger lizards, about 14 cm long, with a long tail flattened at the base. We met lightly colored, gray or yellowish individuals with many small lighter spots. On the sides of the body and in the upper third of the tail, they have a fuzzy pattern of gray spots. Externally spotted round head it is very different from the two previous species, and not only in size and pattern, the spotted round-headed has smooth scales, without spikes or raised scales, it also lacks a transverse fold on the neck. In an excited state, the round heads spin the tail onto their backs, showing the surrounding ones an orange (in young) with a very dark tip inner surface.

Kruglogolovki dig well and make minks in the elevated areas of the salt marsh. In the heat or in bad weather, the lizards hide there, always heading towards the exit. A semicircular inlet allows animals to quickly whirl in the shelter in case of danger. The life of this lizard is associated with burrows, which it unmistakably finds at a short distance, guided by sight.

Despite the fact that this species is heat-loving, in bad weather with drizzling rain and an air temperature of 14-16 °, when the bulk of the round-headed heads hatch in shelters, some individuals are still found on the surface. In spring and early summer, females lay up to 4 eggs, of which 45–50 days later, babies appear in late July and mid-August. They become sexually mature after 20-22 months, i.e., after the second wintering.


Spotted Round Head

Although the population density in the vicinity of Bami Station is quite high, this is the only habitat of the species in our country. Therefore, Turkmen zoologists decided to move the spotted round-headed to another salt marsh, located beyond the zone of cultivated land, 50 km north of the station by you, but the experiment did not give positive results.

ROUND HEADS

ROUND HEADS (Phrynocephalus), a genus of agamidae lizards. The head is short, rounded. The body is wide, flattened, up to 25 cm long. Coloring to the color of the soil. The tail is capable of spinning on its back. About 30 species, mainly in the deserts of Western and Central Asia. They feed on spiders, ants and other invertebrates, sometimes they eat flowers and fruits of plants. Almost all ovipositors, in laying 1–7 eggs. On the territory of the former USSR - 7 species. The spotted round-headed (Phrynocephalus maculatus), which lives on the southern outskirts of Karakum, the hentown round-headed (Phrynocephalus rossikowi) found in Uzbekistan, and the Transcaucasian takyr round-headed (Phrynocephalus helioscopus persicus) are rare, protected.

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