Afghanistan's Native Reptiles

A Russian tortoise.
A Russian tortoise.

Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located within South Asia and Central Asia. It borders Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China covering an area of 252,000 square miles. Afghanistan has a continental climate with harsh freezing winters due to glaciers and snows and hot summers in the low-lying areas. There are several rivers and reservoirs in the country, but still, vast areas of the country are dry. There are more one hundred species of reptile in the country, and some are endemic to these ecoregions only.

Afghanistan's Native Reptiles

Russian Tortoise

The Russian tortoise also commonly known as Horsfield's tortoise or the Central Asian tortoise, is a species of tortoise scientifically known as Agrionemys horsfieldii. The Russian tortoise is a small tortoise species, with a size range of 5–10 inches but Females grow slightly larger for it to accommodate more eggs hence are sexually dimorphic. Russian tortoises have four toes with a varying body color, but the shell is usually a ruddy brown or black and the body is straw-yellow and brown depending on the subspecies.

Indian Fringe-Fingered Lizard

The Indian Fringe-Fingered Lizard also known as fringe-toed lizards is a species of lacertid lizards native to North Africa, Southern Europe, Western Asia, across the Sahara Desert, Iberian Peninsula, the Arabian Peninsula, Afghanistan, and western India. It is scientifically known as Acanthodactylus cantoris It is mainly found in dry and sparsely vegetated regions but they are not strictly tied to an arid terrain hence can be found in other environment. The pattern and coloration on its body are extreme variable hence is unique. It is very aggressive, and males are charged with protecting their territory.It is an oviparous animal with eggs ranging from 3 to 7 and a total body length ranging from 7.1 to 7.9 inches.

Central Asian Pit Viper

The Central Asian Pit Viper is a species of the venomous pit viper scientifically known as Gloydius intermedius mainly found in southeastern Azerbaijan, northern Iran, southern Turkmenistan, northwestern Afghanistan, southern Russia, northwestern China, and Mongolia. It has a relatively stout body with a general length of up to 30 inches. It is divided into three subspecies Gloydius intermedius caucasicus, Gloydius intermedius intermedius, and Gloydius intermedius stejnegeri.

Spotted Whip Snake

The Spotted Whip Snake is a species of snake found in Western Asia, Central Asia, and South-Central Asia scientifically known as Hemorrhois is tan or grayish, with a series of dark rhomboidal spots or crossbars, alternating with smaller spots on the sides. There is a diagonal dark streak below the eye, and a similar subparallel streak from the back of the eye to the corner of the mouth. An adult may attain an approximate body length of 4.5 feet and a 12.5 inches long tail with scales arranged in twenty-one rows.

Threats And Conservation Efforts

The deserts of Afghanistan do not provide a conducive environment for these reptiles to thrive, and make it difficult for prey to survive. The drought and harsh climate has led to a decrease in the number of reptiles but the Government and rural communities are implementing significant conservation measures. This process has included policy development and protected area planning, promoting alternative livelihoods and responsible community management, and continuing research into the status of biodiversity in the field and what needs to be done.

Afghanistan's Native Reptiles

Afghanistan's Native ReptilesScientific Name
Afghan Leopard GeckoEublepharis macularius afghanicus
Russian TortoiseAgrionemys horsfieldii
Indian Fringe-Fingered LizardAcanthodactylus cantoris
Spotted Whip SnakeHemorrhois ravergieri
Central Asian Pit ViperGloydius intermedius
Himalayan AgamaParalaudakia himalayana
Oriental Rat SnakePtyas mucosa
Schneider's Skink
Eumeces schneideri
Jerdon's Snake-EyeOphisops jerdonii
Schokari Sand RacerPsammophis schokari

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