In this week's issue

The dhabb

The UAE has a unique reptile called the dhabb.

  • Dr Reza Khan
  • Published: 08:57 June 12, 2008
  • XPRESS

  • Image Credit: XPRESS/Reza Khan
  • The dhabb basks in the sun early in the morning when it is not too hot and it also forages for food during this time after which it hides inside its burrow.

The UAE has a unique reptile called the dhabb.

It is a spiny-tailed agama that uses natural cooling and heating systems by using sunlight, shade, wind and burrows.

Reptiles and amphibians, fish and invertebrates cannot voluntarily control their body temperature the way birds and mammals do.

If the dhabb remains out when it is very hot, it may die due to desiccation of fluid from the body due to overheating. Similarly, if it remains in the open for long during winter, it may also die of hypothermia.

Smart move

To overcome the problem, the dhabb basks in the sun early in the morning when it is not too hot and it also forages for food during this time after which it hides inside its burrow, a metre or so deep, thus avoiding desiccation.

And just before evening when the temperatures begin to fall, it comes out of its burrow, suns its body and eats as much as possible, before retiring for the night.

Inside the burrow, it is at least 10 to 15 degrees centigrade cooler. In this way the dhabb benefits from both the sunlight and dark places.

XPRESS