Algeria's threatened reptiles include White Fringe-Fingered lizards, Two-Fingered Skinks, and Small Three-Toed Skinks. Continued habitat loss and distribution fragmentation threatens the survival of these species. Also native but not endangered species is the Horseshoe Whip Snake which has shown adaptation to a broad range of habitats in North Africa and across Europe. The low-lying coastal strips in the northern parts of Algeria provide a home to many native species. The Sahara deserts with its different landscapes, plains, mountains, river valleys, and in the semi-arid landscapes many native species of lizards, snakes, and other reptiles flourish.
White Fringe-Fingered Lizard (Acanthodactylus blanci)
The White Fringe-Fingered Lizard (White Fringe-Fingered Lizard) is in the Lacertid Family, and is endemic to Algeria and Tunisia. It inhabits the northwestern and northeastern Tunisia, and northern Algeria. The lizard occurs at around 900 meters above sea level. The White Fringe-Fingered Lizard natural habitats include semi-arid habitats with open vegetation, pine forests, Mediterranean shrub or vegetation, at coastal sites, and in dunes with plant growth and neighboring plantations. The lizard has a snout-vent length of around 95 millimeters. The ongoing habitat loss resulting from agriculture extension, urbanization, and coastal tourism is a threat to the species. There is no record of Acanthodactylus blanci in any protected areas in Algeria. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies the lizard as endangered due to its rarity within its natural habitat range, distribution fragmentation, and continued habitat loss.
Two-Fingered Skink (Chalcides mauritanicus)
The Two-Fingered Skink (Chalcides mauritanicus) is a lizard with a worm-shaped body. It has a narrow body with slightly reduced limbs, three toes on the hind feet, and two fingers on each forefoot. The Skink shows a burrowing adaptation with small and concealed ear openings. The slender body is silvery-white with the upper parts having dark stripes which may also occur along the spine. The species occurs in a restricted coastal zone northwestern of Algeria, Spain, and the Northeastern coast of Morocco. Two-fingered skink appears to live in the coastal lowlands of an attitudinal range of 140 meters above sea level. This skink species occurs in sandy areas, and in eucalyptus, acacia, and pine plantations. The species is presumably viviparous with female species give birth to live young ones. The skink feeds on arthropods. Two-fingered skink needs good ground cover for survival. However, continued driftwood collection and habitat loss from developing tourism activities and military practices reduce vegetation cover, threatening the species population and fragmenting the existing distribution.
Small Three-Toed Skink (Chalcides minutes)
The Small Three-Toed Skink (Chalcides minutus) is a skink found in Northeastern Morocco, Spain, and Northwestern Algeria, preferring the northeastern regions of the Middle Atlas Mountains, the Montes de Tlemcen, and the Rift Mountains. The skink species is found in grasslands, meadows, hedges, open cork oak forests, edges of cultivated lands and areas along the stream. The skink is Ovoviviparous, and the females give birth to live young ones. The species also thrives in arid and degraded lands. Habitat destruction and overgrazing caused by human encroachment threatens the small three-toed skink causing its numbers to decrease. The skink is known to exist in several protected areas in Morocco, most notably around the Beni Snassen Mountain, which is to be made into a Biological Station.
Horseshoe Whip Snake (Hemorrhois hippocrepis)
The Horseshoe Whip Snake (Hemorrhois hippocrepis) belongs to the Colubridae Family. It has a slender body with the head being wider than the neck. The snake derives its name from the horseshoe pattern on its neck and head. It has large blackish or dark brown body edged with black spots on the dorsal. The dark spots lie close to each other giving the snake a black appearance with a light X-shaped pattern. It has a wide geographical distribution and it is found in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Gibraltar, Spain, Portugal, and Italy within an altitude range of up to 2,660 meters above sea level. The snake has adapted to a wide variety of habitats occurring in arid, dry, and rocky habitats, modified habitats, scrub lands, coastal plains, vineyards, arable land, pastures, rural gardens, and around buildings. The female lay clutches of 11 eggs. Even though it is not listed as endangered thanks to its adaptation to many habitats, the snake is increasingly captured by snake charmers in the local markets.
Conservation of Algerian Reptiles
As in other countries around the globe, human encroachment on the habitats of these reptile species is a major issue in Algeria. Clearing of forest covers for agriculture purposes or overgrazing contributes to habitat loss. Algeria should implement conservation actions especially along the coastal strips and in the mountains where most of the endangered and endemic species live if the country’s native species are to withstand the pressure.
|Native Reptiles of Algeria||Scientific Name|
|White Fringe-Fingered Lizard||Acanthodactylus blanci|
| Horseshoe Whip Snake||Hemorrhois hippocrepis|
|Algerian Three-Toed Skink||Chalcides mertensi|
|Ragazzi's Cylindrical Skink||Chalcides ragazzii|
|Algerian Wall Gecko||Tarentola neglecta|
|Small Three-Toed Skink||Chalcides minutus|
|Bedriaga's Fringe-Fingered Lizard||Acanthodactylus bedriagai|
|Two-Fingered Skink||Chalcides mauritanicus|