Shield-tailed agama

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Shield-tailed agama
Xenagama taylori1.jpg
Xenagama taylori
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Iguania
Family: Agamidae
Genus: Xenagama
Species: X. taylori
Binomial name
Xenagama taylori
(Parker, 1935)
  • Agama (Xenagama) taylori
    Parker, 1935
  • Agama taylori
    Wermuth, 1967
  • Xenagama taylori
    Lanza, 1983

The shield-tailed agama or turnip-tailed agama, Xenagama taylori, is a species of lizard in the family Agamidae. The species is endemic to the Horn of Africa.


The specific name, taylori, is in honor of British army officer Captain R. H. R. Taylor.[2]

Geographic range[edit]

X. taylori is found in Somalia and Ethiopia.


X. taylori 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 (113 to 122 °F) maximum temperature, but average ranges between 25 and 35 °C (77 and 95 °F) in very dry environments, with the exception of strong spring storms and high humidity.


Adults of X. taylori are less than 10 cm (4 inches) in total length (including tail), and hatchlings are just over a centimeter (3/8 inch) and weigh only 3 grams (0.11 ounce).

Defensive behavior[edit]

As its size makes it vulnerable to even small predators, X. taylori uses its spiny tail to block its burrows at night.


Being a small lizard, X. taylori is essentially insectivorous, but has been seen to eat grasses, fruits, and berries.

Sexual dimorphism[edit]

X. taylori 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.


  1. ^ "Xenagama taylori ". The Reptile Database.
  2. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Xenagama taylori, p. 262).

Further reading[edit]

  • Parker HW (1935). "Two new Lizards from Somaliland". Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., Tenth Series 16: 525-529. ("Agama (Xenagama) taylori ", new species, p. 525).
  • Flannery, Tim; Schouten, Peter (2004). Astonishing Animals: Extraordinary Creatures and the Fantastic Worlds They Inhabit. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press. (Xenagama taylori, p. 130).