Shield-tailed agama

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Shield-tailed agama
Xenagama taylori1.jpg
Xenagama taylori
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Iguania
Family: Agamidae
Subfamily: Agaminae
Genus: Xenagama
Species: X. taylori
Binomial name
Xenogama taylori

The shield-tailed agama or turnip-tailed agama, Xenagama taylori, is a lizard found in Somalia and Ethiopia. It lives on arid, flat land, sometimes on hilly landscapes, sandy but also hard grounds, where it digs deep galleries. It survives at 45 to 50°C maximum temperature, but average ranges between 25 and 35°C in very dry environments, with the exception of strong spring storms and high humidity.

This lizard is less than 10 cm in length, and its hatchlings are just over a centimeter and weigh only three grams. As its size makes it vulnerable to even small predators, it uses its spiny tail to block its burrows at night. This small lizard is essentially insectivorous, but has been seen to eat grasses, fruits, and berries. The species is sexually dimorphic; males are thinner and smaller and their chins turn blue when excited. Males have larger anal pores enclosed by a waxy yellow substance.


  • Tim Flannery and Peter Schouten, Astonishing Animals: Extraordinary Creatures and the Fantastic Worlds They Inhabit. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2004. Page 130.