Amateur researcher Tomas Mazuch discovered a species of lizard (Xenagama wilmsi) in Somalia with a round flat tail. Actually, he was assisted by Phillip Wagner, a professional expert working at a museum in Bonn. They figured out two previously known species that look very similar, were not the ones people had assumed.
Xenagama batillifera (Beaver-tailed agama) and Xenagama Taylori (Turnip-tailed agama) are the ones kept in captivity by hobbyists. The researchers found out by comparing bodies and color variation it is typically actually the turnip-tailed species and some Xenagama wilmsi that are kept in captivity. So, Beaver-tailed agama are not kept by hobbyists at all, but the lizard owners did assume they had the beaver-tailed species.
The turnip-tailed and Wilmsi species are found a round the town
of Hargeisa, a city in north Somalia at about 4,300 feet. The name means where hides are sold, and true to form it is also where these lizards with unique tails are sold. This area has milder weather and receives more rain, so there is grassland savannah, which attracts wild animals, including antelope, wild ass, leopards and lions.
The flat-tailed lizards (agamas) live in savannah areas as well,
and the burrow into the ground to create shelters. Their flat tails
are used to cover their burrow entrances and protect themselves
The true beaver-tailed species live in more remote areas of Somalia, where hunters don’t travel very often, so they are safer from the pet trade. It will be a very sad day if these lizard species are eradicated from the wild, due to a voracious demand from foreign enthusiasts who want to keep them in vivariums – essentially glass cages.
Image Credit: mk-exotics.de