Added 11 July 2022.

A look at the Family Agamidae


Iranian and Iraqi Mastigures, India Spiny-Tailed Lizard


The genus Saara contains three species that were formerly assigned to the genus Uromastyx. Saara was proposed as a genus by Gray in 1845 and recently resurrected.

Gray listed the characteristics of the genus as follows: head very short, broad, much arched; body depressed, with a fold on each side of the back; scales minute, equal; tail short, broad, depressed; upper part with cross bands of compressed, conical scales, separated by other rings of granular and smooth square scales; beneath covered with square, smooth, imbricate scales; femoral pores distinct (GRAY 1845). To this description, Wilms et al added the following diagnosis: acrodont dentition, with the premaxillary bone forming in adult specimens a sharp, tooth-like structure replacing the incisive teeth; tail scalation arranged in distinct whorls, which are separated by 1–6 rows of intercalary scales dorsally.

For more information, see the Uromastyx page, including the Bibliography.


S. asmussi, Iranian Mastigure

S. hardwicki, Hardwick's Spiny-Tailed Lizard

S. loricata , Iraqi Mastigure

Scientific Name

Common Name





S. asmussi

Iranian Mastigure, Persian Spiny-Tailed Lizard

S Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan


Found in high plains, where it digs burrows up to 4ft long and 2ft deep. Scalation: front of ear opening has strongly denticulated scales; many scaly tubercles on loose skin of nape and sides of neck; large rounded spiny tubercles in regular rows across sides and extending onto back; 6-7 femoral pores and 2-3 preanal pores on each side. Coloration: in males, dorsally greenish-brown; tubercles may be red [SOURCE: Walls]  

S. hardwicki

Hardwick's Spiny-Tailed Lizard, Indian Spiny-Tailed Lizard

India, Pakistan


Widely distributed species living in colonies of 50-100 animals with fairly extensive burrows. They are exploited for food by local people but are no longer readily available to the pet trade. They are very much a herbivorous species. In nature they tend to brumate from November to February. Scalation: 34-36 rows of enlarged spiny scales along tail, each row separated by a few rows of very much smaller scales; anterior denticulated scales on ear opening; 15-18 femoral and preanal pores on each side of the body. Coloration:  dorsally sand coloured, may be marked with dark brown spots or dense network of brown lines and mottling; belly and throat white; large bluish-black spot on face of each thigh in the groin. Juveniles are darker with many blackish spots which are so dense laterally that they may form 1-2 dark stripes: irregular white mottling may be present on head and shoulders. Reproduction: mating season is late February to April: clutches consisting of 8-14 eggs are laid late April to June. Incubation takes place in a chamber off the main burrow. The hatchlings leave the burrow from late June to July. [SOURCE: Walls].

S. loricata

Iraqi Spiny-Tail, Iraqi Spiny-Tailed Lizard

Iraq and Iran

Found in high plains, where they dig burrows up to 4ft long in hard rocky soil. Similar in appearance to S. asmussi. This species is active from late morning to early afternoon at temperatures of up to 112 deg F: any higher temperature, however, leads to distress. Scalation: front of ear opening has smooth scales; scaly tubercles on loose skin of nape and sides of neck; large rounded spiny tubercles in irregular rows across sides and extending onto back; smaller ventral scales than S. asmussi; 12-13 femoral pores and 3-4 preanal pores on each side. Coloration: dorsally pale, yellowish to cream with brown spots; round yellow spots may be present; ventrally pale, two brown stripes across the belly may be present; warm specimens become pale, almost white, with orange accents. [SOURCE: Walls]


Contains useful if brief data on the genus and on the natural history, coloration and husbandry of S. hardwicki. It also gives suggestions on the housing and offering the appropriate foods according to the season that would be encountered in the creatures' natural range.

“On the Phylogeny and Taxonomy of the Genus Uromastyx Merrem, 1820 (Reptilia: Squamata: Agamidae: Uromastycinae) – Resurrection of the Genus Saara Gray, 1845”, Thomas M Wilms, Wolfgang Boehme, Philipp Wagner, Nicola Lutzmann and Andreas Schmitz

Links - the Uromastyx Home Page.