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Trapelus lessonae (Steppe Agama / Bozkır Keleri)

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Trapelus lessonae (Steppe Agama / Bozkır Keleri)

Trapelus lessonae (=Trapelus ruderatus, Agama ruderata ) (Steppe Agama, Lessona’s Horn-scaled Agama / Bozkır Keleri) from Kilis -10.04.2011.

Meeting with Platyceps najadum (Dahl's whip snake/ İnce Yılan, Ok Yılanı)

This beautiful lizard is widely distributed from central Turkey through Lebanon, Syria and Israel to Jordan in the south and to Iran and Pakistan in the east; with a vertical distribution to 3000 m. It is also known from S. Azerbaijan. In Turkey, it is known from Central, S and E Anatolia.

Inhabits in open, mostly flat dry steppe and semidesert habitats, often relatively densely vegetated, also marginal parts of fields and stony pastures.

It is a small to medium-sized terrestrial agamid with a very short triangular head, moderately long extremities and flattened body. The head is distinctly convex, short and wide. Typically, nostrils are situated below the Canthus rostralis. A fringe of enlarged spiny scales partly covers the ear opening, which is smaller then the eye. The body is short, dorsoventrally flattened. Dorsal scales are small, irregular, more or less keeled; intermixed with enlarged keeled, pointed scales. Ventral scales are smooth. Limbs are moderately long, tibia as long as the skull, toes and fingers are relatively short; the third toe is shorter than the fourth. Tail circular in cross section, longer than head and body. Males possess a double row of preanal pores and have a distinctly thickened tail basis. Ground colour is light greyish or brownish, with 4 more or less distinct dark cross-bars. Typically, there are distinct, white rhomboidal pots in the middorsal line, each in the centre of a dark cross-bar. In the pelvic region and on the tail these dorsal white spots often fuse, forming a longitudinal white streak. Another whitish streak is situated caudally on thighs, running to the lateral sides of the tail basis. These white markings on thighs and tail are never present in similar T. pallidus (Pale Agama, which is found in the neighbouring Syria). Tail with about 10 dark cross-bars. Dorsal cross bands of gravid females are orange to reddish. In the mating season males have a blue gular region and the dark cross bands nearly disappear.

Steppe Agamais strictly diurnal and heliophilous terrestrial species. In contrast to T. pallidus, T. lessonae is a relatively secretive species, hard to observe in its usually vegetated habitat. Dominant males often display from stones; females are encountered on stones during the basking. When disturbed, they hide in dense bushes or run high speed with the tail slightly curved upwards, and then stop a few meters away. The diet consists of various invertebrates. In the hot summer months their activity has two peaks, in the morning and late afternoon. Females lay more clutches per season (usually two) each consisting of 6-14 eggs. Juveniles appear in summer, around mid August.

References: 1. Göçmen, B. (Unpub. results). The results of herpetological trips. 2. Budak, A. & Göçmen, B. (2005). Herpetology. Ege Üniversitesi Fen Fakültesi Kitaplar Serisi, No. 194, Ege Üniversitesi Basimevi, Bornova-Izmir, 226 pp. [2nd Edition, 2008]. 3. Anderson, S. C (1998). The Lizards of Iran. Contribution to Herpetology, Vol. 15, Society for the Study of Amphibians & Reptiles, NY, 442pp. 4. Disi, A. M., Modry, D., Necas, P. & Rifai, L. (2001). Amphibians and Reptiles of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Edition Chimaira, 408 pp. 5. Rastegar-Pouyani,N. 2000. Taxonomic status of Trapelus ruderatus (Olivier) and T. persicus (Blanford), and validity of T. lessonae (De Filippi). Amphibia-Reptilia 21 (1): 91-102

Author Bayram GÖÇMEN
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Posted on Saturday 04 June 2011
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