Animal Profile - Mali Spiny-tailed Lizard

Mali spiny-tailed lizard
Timbuktu the Mali spiny-tailed lizard
Hatch Date: August 26, 2004

Named after the city in Mali, Timbuktu was hand-picked from the reptile house to be an animal ambassador for his species. When the InterpretiveCenter staff chose a lizard, they looked for an individual who did not mind being picked up and had a mellow temperament. Representing the species is an important role for this small lizard, but Tim is definitely suited for the role.

Timmy is thriving in the InterpretiveCenter. He has grown in size since the move and reacts well to all the special attention during the Wildlife Stage Show and his ZooMobile outings. He will look right at you when you scratch the top of his head gently, his favorite spot. 

This Mali spiny-tailed lizard eats yams, carrots and dandelion greens, but his favorite food item is definitely King meal worms. Timmy enjoys enrichment items in his terrarium: a new hidey-rock or rearrangement of furniture entertains him for days. 

Desert reptiles have many adaptations for dealing with extreme high temperatures: a tortoise will burrow to get out of the sun; a gecko hides in rock crevices; and a bobcat only comes out in the early morning or at night. However, the Mali spiny-tailed lizard is unique in that they embrace the heat and hot sun. Their ideal temperature is between 102 and 120 degrees. So, on those hot summer afternoons, when we are all indoors, Timmy’s Zookeepers are taking him out to the Reptile House Lawn, where he will run, play and sometimes nap in the hot weather.


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