Welcome to the Reptilia world! Yes, I am a reptile; you thought because of the name Sandfish that this article is about some strange aquatic creature that loves to hide its eggs in sand?
Sorry to disappoint you, but I live in deserts, the waterless full of sand areas of the world where many creatures live and thrive despite the reputation! As you might already know, reptiles inhabit vast areas of the world, from grasslands to forests to deserts and seas; we are everywhere - except for Antarctica, because it's freezing and cold-blooded creatures can't tolerate that much cold! So, you might find me in any sandy desert around you; just don't try to catch me!
Enough of the big family talk, let's talk about me! I am a Sandfish living in the UAE and the Middle East. I am called by many local names and am so famous! Please Google my picture, share it on your social media account, and type in my name in your language or regional dialect. Don't forget to add @AlAinZoo. I am a skink, which is a type of lizard. I was named after my ability to move smoothly through sand as if I was swimming, and when I jump into the sand, I dive like a dolphin diving into seawater. Do you like me already? If you like camping or going to the desert near an oasis, you will see me enjoying my time - or running away from the car's loud noises.
There are about six species of Sandfish, so yes, you will see a wide variety of me! I can reach about 20 cm in length, my body is cylindrical and long, and I have a wedge-shaped snout that is the secret of easy sand diving. You will recognize my smooth, shiny scales that cover my body looking like polished reflective glass, my legs are short and robust, and my tail is quite short. I am keeping the best for last; I am rather handsome! I am a distinctive light tan sandy brown kind of color, with stripes of darker brown and yellow across my body, coloration which differs according to species. When I ‘swim’ smoothly through the sand, my eyes and nostrils can effectively keep my lungs and sight clear of any sand grains, just like a diver’s mask.
Diving in the sand helps me cool myself on hot days as the temperature of deep sand is way cooler than surface sand and is also a great hideout from hungry predators; intelligent, don't you think? I feed on insects, locating my prey by detecting the vibrations they create while moving on the ground, then choosing the right moment to catch them.
My kind lives in many areas, and if you think about sand dunes, yes, you might find us there, but we more often tend to inhabit sandy areas near oases. Geographically you will find us all around African deserts through the Sahara and the Middle East in Oman, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Yemen. Like many reptiles, we are threatened by climate change, loss of habitat and harvesting; also, a lot of the time it is difficult for us to find food which will lead to our demise, so please be mindful and try to reduce your waste whenever you go camping and make sure not to destroy my habitat.