Friday, May 20, 2005

I found a fantastic picture of a soldier with an Arabian Sand Boa from Camp Bucca in the southern desert area of Iraq near the Kuwaiti Border. The colors on the snake are incredible.

Apparently there are two species of sand boa (genus Eryx) found in Iraq. The Arabian Sand Boa (Eryx jayakari) and the Spotted Sand Boa (Eryx jaculus).

The eyes of the Arabian Sand Boa are positioned on the top of their head so they can stick them out from underneath the sand without exposing their head. The body is stout and flattened to help it burrow in the sand. They are nocturnal animals and I imagine they hunt lizards and small rodents. has an interesting series of Arabian Sand Boa pictures (text is in Arabic) including one killing a lizard.

On the birding front I was checking out the Ornithological Society of the Middle East website. Sadly, there were no reports for Iraq in the seasonal notes. Iran especially seems to have an active birding community and I was very envious reading a trip report from a birding tour of Iran.

With many recent sightings by westerners working in Iraq and Iraqi biologists themselves, this should be the last time that Iraq is a blank space on the map in Middle Eastern Ornithology. I encourage everyone to submit their sighting to the editor of "Around the Region" at OSME ( and lets start things out right. In a few years we should have the first of many Iraqi trip reports from a birding tour. When I was in Iraq and traveling around I always thought Iraq had great potential for both ecotourism and tourism to its archeological and historical sites.

I did start my North American Nature Blog. Hopefully I'll have a little time to devote to it.


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