Environment

Native Reptiles Of Egypt

Kleinmann's Egyptian Tortoises and Hawksbill Sea Turtles rank as some of Egypt's most threatened reptile species.

There are a number of different species of reptiles that are native to the country of Egypt, a nation which geographically connects Africa with the Middle East. Egypt has a variety of reptile species due to having water boundaries with the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. It also has a wide variety due to having the Nile River, which is the second longest river in the world running through its country and its inland desert ecological region which hosts other types of reptiles. This article will discuss a few of these native reptiles and their physical characteristics, habitats, diets, their current conservation status and more.

Egyptian Black Desert Cobra

The Egyptian Black Desert Cobra, scientific name Walterinnesia aegyptia, is a species of extremely venomous snake that it is part of the Elapidae Family of venomous snakes. The Egyptian Black Desert Cobra is a completely black snake that has very shiny scales. Adults of this species usually grow to be around 1.8 feet (0.54 meters) in length, but they can grow to be as long as 5.11 feet (1.55 meters) long. This species also has a somewhat small yet broad and flattened head with a cylindrical shaped body and a short tail. They species eats a variety of different lizards, as well as toads, mice, birds and even other snakes. These species are found in deserts and in semi-desert scrublands of the Nile Delta and Sinai Desert in Egypt. It is also found in most of the country of Jordan, the southern and eastern parts of Israel and in the a larger portion of Saudi Arabia. Despite its total population being on the decline this species is listed as being a species of least concern by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List and has protected areas in all the countries it is found in. The species biggest threat is in Egypt where it is over-collected for research and its venom and it has also lost large areas of its habitat in the Eastern Desert due to human development and agriculture coming into the area in recent decades.

False Smooth Snake

The False Smooth Snake, scientific name Macroprotodon cucullatus, is a species of mildly venomous snake that is part of the Colubridae Family of snakes. The False Smooth Snake is on the small scale for snakes, usually being no longer then 21.75 inches (55 centimeters) in length. The dorsal scales of the snakes are smooth and its back is usually tan or grey colored with little brown sports and streaks. Its front side is usually yellow to coral red in color and something spotted in black. The species mostly eats various small lizard species, like geckos or sand lizards. The species can be found in a wide variety of different habitats, some of which are temperate forest and shrub-lands, arable land, urban areas, rural gardens, pastures and sandy shores. This species is found all around the Mediterranean, with it being in Italy, Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Israel and Palestine. The species is listed as being a species of least concern by the IUCN Red List. The species population has been declining but it is still large and has wide distribution across multiple countries, along with the ability to live in a variety of habitats. This species is rarest to find in Egypt due to urbanization, agriculture and tourism threatening its habitats and food sources, as well as being collected to be traded as pets.

Hawksbill Sea Turtle

The Hawksbill Sea Turtle, scientific name Eretmochelys imbricata, is a species of salt water sea turtle that is a member of the Cheloniidae Family of sea turtles.The hawksbill is known for its narrow head and its beak which it similar looking to that of a hawk, hence its name. This species has a carapace (turtle shell) that either comes in a orange, yellow or brown color. This species is on the smaller scale for sea turtles as adults are generally between 2.5 to 3 feet in length (71 to 89 centimeters) and weight between 101 to 154 pounds (46 to 70 kilograms). This species eats a variety of anemones, shrimp, sponges and squid using its narrow head and unique beak that enable it to access crevices in coral reefs to reach its food. This species of turtle is usually found in and around coastal reefs, estuaries, lagoons and other rocky areas. This species is the most tropical of all species of sea turtles as it is found in the tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, as well as various seas. In the case of Egypt this species is found in the Red Sea. The species has been listed as being critically endangered by the ICUN Red List since 1996 and its population has been decreasing. The species biggest threat is being hunted for their prized shell, as well as being killed for their meat, having their habitats destroyed, having their eggs collected by humans for food and having to deal with pollution in the oceans.

Kleinmann's Egyptian Tortoise

Kleinmann's Egyptian Tortoise, scientific name Testudo kleinmanni, is a species of land dwelling turtle that is part of the Testudinidae Family of terrestrial shelled reptiles. This species has a carapace that is high domed and comes in an array of colors from ivory to yellow to gold and dark brown. This species is known for its small size, as it is the second smallest species of tortoise in the world. Adult males grow to be only around 4 inches (10.6 centimeters) in length and weight between 5.6 to 8.8 ounces (160 to 250 grams). The adult females in the species are a little bit larger, averaging about 5.67 inches (14.4 cm) in length and weighing 10.6 to 12.4 ounces (300 to 350 grams). The species eats a variety of grasses, leaves, flowers and fruits. They live in desert and semi-desert habitats are not only found in small areas of the Sinai Desert and along Egypt's Mediterranean coast around the cities of Alexandria and Marsa Matruh. The species has been listed as being critically endangered by the IUCN Red List, and its population has been decreasing. This species is affected by the developmental and industrial pressures that cause a loss in the integrity of its habitat and having its food-source be overgrazed because of human agriculture.

Conservation of the Native Reptiles of Egypt

There are directed steps that can be taken by those wishing to try and help support these and other native reptiles that can be found living in Egypt. Looking into organizations whose goal is to protect and conserved endangered wildlife, like the African Conservation Foundation (ACF), the Sahara Conservation Foundation (SCF) or any of the other organizations dedicated to protecting animals. Even if one does not donate money, just being able to educated oneself on the issues and what can be done to help conserve and protect these animals and their environments is a big step forward.

Native Reptiles of EgyptScientific Name
Fan-Footed GeckoPtyodactylus hasselquistii
Nile Soft-Shell TurtleTrionyx triunguis
False Smooth SnakeMacroprotodon cucullatus
Desert MonitorVaranus griseus
Kleinmann's Egyptian Tortoise
Testudo kleinmanni
Hawksbill Sea TurtleEretmochelys imbricata
Small-Spotted LizardMesalina guttulata
Common Blind SnakeIndotyphlops braminus
Ocellated SkinkChalcides ocellatus
Egyptian Black Desert CobraWalterinnesia aegyptia

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