Scientific name           : Acanthodactylus harranensis Baran, Kumlutaş, Lanza, Sindaco, Avcı ve Crucitti, 2005

English name              : Harran Lizard

Turkish name             : Harran Kertenkelesi

Zoogeographic status : Saharo-Turano-Sindian

Acanthodactylus harranensis was first reported by Baran et al. (2005) from the Harran Ruins described and recorded. Mulder observed a specimen of A. harranensis from Syria (61 km from the known settlement in Turkey) ten years before the species was identified, and after the Harran lizard was identified, he compared the specimens morphologically and compared the specimens he observed in Syria belonging to A. harranensis reported that. A. harranensis species distributed in Harran was found to be endemic to the region, not to our country, in the study of Mulder (2021).

Morphology: The Harran Lizard is a large, chubby lizard with a total length of 25 cm. It has a longitudinal dimple on its head. Occipital plaque is absent. The scales on the body and tail are flat. There are 3-6 scales in front of the ear opening. Subocular plaque does not reach the mouth. The first supralabial plate lies anterior to the subocular plate. While the 2nd and 3rd supraocular plates are in one piece, the 4th supraocular plate consists of 7-14 small pieces. The number of dorsal scales in the middle of the body is between 51-65. The 4th toe of the hind legs is weakly toothed. It does not form a comb structure. The tail is 1.5 times the length of the body. The top of the head is brown with longitudinal blackish spots. Males are dark in color while females have a lighter background color. In adults, the dorsal pattern is black net-shaped with spots and light-colored annular spots. Black or white spots are more prominent on the tail, but are also faintly present on the legs. The abdomen is unblemished, yellowish-white.

Habitat preferences: The area where it is distributed in our country is characterized by the ruins of Harran Ancient University. It is an area covered with hardened gray sand and mixed blocks of sedimentary fossiliferous rocks. The vegetation is a dispersed steppe. The bushes are mostly shorter than 50 cm. The species usually makes its nests in the roots of the harmala plant. They are not found in nearby agricultural lands, they are distributed only in the region where the remains are found.

It is known that it lives in the roots of the pear plant. Factors such as the harvesting of the peony plant by the local people bring about the deterioration of the ecological balance needed by the species and therefore the species stress. This factor negatively affects the continuity of the species’ extinction.

Reproductive: The breeding period starts in March-April, depending on seasonal conditions, and continues until mid-June. A female lizard can lay 3-5 eggs. There is no detailed information about the reproduction of the species.

Nutrition: The species feeds on insects and insect larvae.

Behaviour: Acanthodactylus harranensis is a fast-running species that is therefore very difficult to catch in open ground. In terms of color pattern, it is difficult to distinguish individuals as they are camouflaged with the ground color. When disturbed, it runs quickly and takes shelter behind the nearest plant or stone, then moves suddenly (Figure 5). It enters a pre-existing burrowing tunnel located between the gaps or holes in the historical remains and the roots of the yam plant. It creates a nest from the sand level to a depth of about 50 cm. The species especially nests in areas with little vegetation.

Lifecycle: The activity of the Harran Lizard is largely dependent on the temperature of the air, the sun’s rays and the wind. Beşer et al. (2019) determined the average age of male individuals as 10 years and the average age of female individuals as 9 years in his age study on the species.

General distribution of the species: The species is known to be distributed in Harran Ruins and Syria (61 km away from the known settlement in Turkey) (Baran et al., 2005; Mulder, 2021).

Distribution and trend of the species in our country: The species is only known from Harran Ruins in our country. The population trend is decreasing (Kaska et al., 2009). This species is rare in its very limited habitat. It is thought that there are less than 1000 mature individuals in the Harran locality (Kaska et al., 2009; Beşer et al. 2019).


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