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Commonly Asked Questions

Appears in Georgia Aquarium's:
  • Extreme Environments (Aquanaut Adventure: A Discovery Zone)

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs on the southern Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, southern Israel, western Saudi Arabia and northwestern Yemen.
  • Found in dry, rocky desert environments with sparse vegetation.
  • Takes shelter in rocky crevices.

Physical Characteristics

  • Coloration of male is primarily bright green, blue or sometimes red with striking yellow or brown pattern on the back.
  • Female is more muted than the male, typically a lighter shade of brown with dark brown, yellow or red spots.
  • Juveniles are cream to light brown with a black pattern on the back.
  • Tail covered in rings of spiky scales.
  • Common length of up to 15.7 inches (40 cm).

Diet / Feeding

  • Generally herbivorous, with a diet consisting of the leaves, seeds and flowers of many desert plants.
  • Opportunistic feeder; will occasionally feed on invertebrates.

Reproduction / Growth

  • Female lays between 7 and 17 eggs in June; eggs hatch about 60 days later.
  • Juveniles reach sexual maturity at around 2 years of age.

Conservation Status

  • “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.
    • Overall population is thought to be decreasing due to overcollection for international pet trade and habitat loss.

Additional Information

  • Also known as the ornate mastigure or the ornate spiny-tailed lizard.
  • Active during the day and most active during the hottest part of the day.
  • Life expectancy of up to 20 years.
  • May be solitary or live in small groups with one dominant male and several females.
    • Dominant male will defend its home range from other males.
    • Males have been observed turning over a female and walking in a circle over her abdomen. The reason for this behavior is not known, but may it be tied to the bond between the dominant male and the females in its territory.