Islamic Republic of Iran

From the 22nd of April until the 8th of May 2016

Ever since learning about the Spider-tailed Horned Vipers existence, I have been thinking of visiting the beautiful country of Iran. The more I read about this amazing country the more excited I got. Iran is more than 4,5 times as big as Germany and boosts a spectacular variety in ecosystems, ranging from the lush green and ancient Hyrcanian forests in the north, the vast Dasht-e Kavir desert in the eastern central part and the specious arid oak forests of the Zagros mountains in the west. In total Iran hosts more than 240 species of amphibian and reptile and many species still await description or discovery. While talking to my buddies Frank and Joachim, I learned they were also thinking of visiting Iran and we decided to combine our strengths and do another trip together. Our team consisted of seven people and four different nationalities: Laura Tiemann and Joachim Nerz (DE), Frank Deschandol, Matthieu Berroneau, Maud Menay-Berroneau (FR), Masoud Yousefi (IR) and of course me (NL).

From left to right: Joachim, friendly DOE member, Matthieu, Masoud, Laura, me, Frank and Maud on the best day of the trip.
From left to right: Joachim, friendly DOE member, Matthieu, Masoud, Laura, me, Frank and Maud on the best day of the trip.

To have Masoud in our team proved to be key to our success. Not that many people speak English or any other foreign language and to have a native speaker among us made not only ordering french fries a lot easier, he also helped explaining to local people what we were doing. All Iranian people we met were extremely friendly, but are of course curious to these strange people staring at the ground, lifting rocks. Without him we would have never managed to see all the things we wanted to see and are of course forever grateful to our new friend. We also learned a lot from him about Iranian fauna, culture and customs and our trip would not have been the same without him.

Furthermore, we made sure that we got a permit from the Department of Environment (DOE). Without this permit, herping inside National Park borders is not allowed and herping at places such as the famous cave or the border area with Iraq can be ruled out. 

We started our route in the coastal north where we feared some of our low altitude amphibian targets might have already stopped reproducing. We finished on the high altitude northern locations where spring starts late and some of our reptile targets might have just awoken out of hibernation. This proved to be a very wise decision as we were indeed either a bit late or a bit early for some species. But luckily not too late or too early! 

22 April 2016

My journey started in Amsterdam from where I flew to Munich. Together with Laura I flew in the middle of the night To Istanbul where we met Joachim. We had very little time to catch the flight to Tehran and we made it just on time. It was a bit stressy, but on the pro side, we didn't have to wait! 

23 April 2016

In the early morning we arrived and Maud and Matt were already waiting for Laura, Joachim and me and also Frank arrived shortly after us. Via a friend of Frank we had arranged two affordable cars and we changed the first euros into Rial. Also our new friend and "baba" for two weeks, Masoud, joined shortly after and we could hit the road.

A long drive towards the coast followed, through the beautiful Alborz Mountains we saw the scenery change from semi-desert on the southern slopes to lush green Hyrcanian forest on the northern slopes. These broadleaf forests are the cradle for our European forests as they have never endured any glacial periods and boost a stunning diversity of trees.

We checked out some places along the road and could easily find several Grass Snakes (Natrix natrix), Dice Snake (Natrix tessellata), Glass Lizard (Pseudopus apodus), Eastern Tree Frog (Hyla orientalis), Levant Water Frog (Pelophylax bedriagae) and Eastern Slow Worms (Anguis colchicus). The latter belong to the recently described subspecies orientalis (Jablonski et al. 2016). All of these animals inhabit the carr landscape typical for this region. The last search site before sunset was another waterlogged forest and on some roadbanks with rocks and bramble bushes we could find even more Eastern Slow Worms, a Persian Rat Snake (Zamenis persicus) and even a DOR Cat Snake (Telescopus fallax). Quite strange to see some of these species in these forests because in Europe we rather associate some of them with dry areas. After a tasty meal at the Royan Burger we looked for a place to sleep. Hotels are rather hard to find in Iran and usually expensive, but at least at the Caspian Sea Coast many people have apartments to let, so we found a cheap one for all of us. After dark we went back in the woods and saw several Golden Jackals (Canis aureus) scavaging along the road. In the woods we saw European Pond Terrapin (Emys orbicularis), several Water Frogs and Tree Frogs and finally in a dirty ditch several Karelin's Newts (Triturus karelinii) as well.

24 April 2016

The next morning we returned to photograph the newts and found some additonal species for this area such as Iranian Wood Frog (Rana pseudodalmatina) and Dahl's Whip Snake (Platyceps najadum). Another weird species for this lush green and wet environment. Afterwards we drove on the to the vast agricultural lands north of Gorgan in the NE of the country. We were hoping to find Steppe Snake here but only managed to find Caspian Terrapins (Mauremys caspica) and Caspian Green Lizard (Lacerta strigata), both too shy to photograph sadly. In the late afternoon we drove towards the famous Shirabad Cave. Salamanders of the genus Paradactylodon are widely distributed throughout the Alborz Mountains but are notoriously hard to find, only in this cave the chance is at least not zero to find them. Going up the steep slopes through the lush forest and raging torrents was hard work in the humid climate. Finding the cave was even harder work and Joachim and I decided to climb up higher to find the cave and hopefully the salamanders. We finally found the cave but had no luck in finding the salamanders. It was dark already and we went down the slippery slopes to return in the morning again. I busted one of my knees against a rock which wasn't the nicest feeling in the world. Back at the car there was some commotion as several local people had the feeling we had wrong intentions and didn't want to have us there. Luckily Masoud could translate for us and could explain we only wanted to see the salamanders and nothing else. Especially with our permit it was no problem in the end. Afterwards we found a nice place to stay in Hotel Parmis, we were lucky because they had carpets so we could clean our dirty boots. In the rooftop restaurant we had a nice meal and afterwards we fell asleep in our nice beds.

25 April 2016

Back to the cave! This time we all had to climb our way up the slippery slopes, past waterfalls and towering trees. This area gives the incredible feeling walking through a rainforest and I absolutely loved it! Both Green-bellied Lizards (Darevskia chlorogaster) and Steiner's Lizards (Darevskia steineri) could be seen basking on top of bramble bushes likes anoles would do in the tropics. After we all made it to the cave we started searching again for the salamander we were so hoping to find here. The cave itself is is 15m high at the entrance but still 4m high deeper inside (Kami 2004). Huge colonies of bat can be found and the guano feeds a whole range of small invertebrates which feed in their turn the salamanders. Also the salamanders are known to feed on the bats itself (Kami 2004). We waded through the shallow water and easily found larvae of Gorgan Cave Salamander (Paradactylodon persicus) but adults remained of our radar. The hardcore salamander-lovers among us got half naked and waded through the murky and freezing water to search also in the last part of the cave. Sliding through the thick layer of bat guano, searching every crack and fissure and lifting rocks but all to no avail. Back in the easier accessible part, viperboy Matt was lucky and found a Cave Salamander. Great! After photographing this amazing animal we drove on and headed towards Shahrud through streets with many fake brands (Ixea is my favourite). On our way through the eastern Alborz Mountains we found several Worm Snakes (Xerotyphlops vermicularis), Turan Toads (Bufotes turanensis) and Alborz Lizards (Darevskia defilippii). In Shahrud we found a nice place to eat and sleep in the Shahrud Tourist Hotel.

26 April 2016

After breakfast in the hotel we drove eastwards towards Sabzevar, with distant Dromedary Camel (Camelus dromedarius) herds already adding to the desert atmosphere. Along the road we had two stops which delivered Persian Racerunner (Eremias persicus), Persian Long-tailed Lizard (Mesalina watsonana), Gray Toad-headed Agama (Phrynocephalus scutellatus) and Brilliant Ground Agama (Trapelus agilis). In the afternoon we arrived in the baking hot sanddunes and we picked out some good looking ones for our main target here. After only searching for about 15 minutes we already saw the first of the Turan Toad-headed Agamas (Phrynocephalus mystaceus) and several more followed. These funny-looking agamas run on the hot sand and are highly thermophile. They are well known for their defensive behaviour and when threatened they inflate the two small fringes in the corner of the mouth to scare predators away. Maybe we weren't scary enough but none of the lizards showed this behaviour to us sadly. We are still puzzled as to why they didn't do it... The small Striped Racerunner (Eremias lineolata) was also seen here, digging new burrows in the late afternoon. After dinner on the desert(ed) road and playing a few rounds of desert golf it was time to head into the sanddunes again. It costed us very little effort to find a whole range of geckoes such as Baluch Rock Gecko (Bunopus tuberculatus), Comb-toed Gecko (Crossobamon eversmanni), Caspian Bent-toed Gecko (Tenuidactylus caspius) and the wonderful Plate-tailed Gecko (Teratoscincus keyserlingii). This last species is quite big and also easily found by their eye reflections. When handled they make hissing sounds as if they are snakes. Also a single Diadem Snake (Spalerosophis diadema) was found. Afterwards we did a short round of unproductive roadcruising but saw little more than a jackal and a few gerbils. We set up tent in a remote bit of desert but not remote enough. In the night several guys on motorcycles came by to ask what we were doing and wanted to invite us at their homes for tea and sleeping.

27 April 2016

We decided to try our luck for more Phrynocephalus mystaceus in another part of the sanddune system, in the hope another population might do the self defensive posture. No such luck. We easily found many of these beautiful agamas but no such luck in seeing the famous defensive pose. Also several Brilliant Ground agamas and Striped Racerunners again. Slightly disappointed we went to a small cantine near a factory, where we discovered for the first time the frozen nectar of the gods: banana icecream. Besides some cheap and tasty hamburgers. Great to have such a place in the middle of the desert! We had a little siesta underneath a small park just outside town, where a few pinetrees provided shade and a watertap provided a cooling refreshment. Above our heads, Long-legged Buzzards (Buteo rufinus) were soaring. In the late afternoon we headed towards the DOE office to meet the local DOE member who showed us even more beautiful habitat inside the national park. We were even allowed to herp within the borders of the national park but saw little more than we already had outside the park. I did see two Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis). In the evening we split up, one team searched by foot while the others went roadcruising. While the team on foot found many interesting geckoes and insects, the team by car found a Dwarf Sand Boa (Eryx miliaris) and a Saw-scaled Viper (Echis carinatus). After photography we set up tents on the mountain of the DOE office and slept like babies.

28 April 2016

The heat drove me out of the tent rather early and I was lucky enough saw the wolf (Canis lupus) that was apparantly scavaging around our camp last night, as it quickly disappeared behind a hill. Awesome! We had however a long drive ahead of us to reach the foothills of the Zagros Mountains by nightfall. No time to linger and we hit the road. In a small desert town we saw something dangling from an electricity wire which turned out to be a Desert Monitor (Varanus griseus). Locals wounded the animal and strung it up high so it could die in the baking sun and would scare away other monitor lizards. A ridiculous method apparantly still practised in rural Iran. In the late evening we arrived at the Payam International Hotel in Arak.

29 April 2016

The breakfast in the hotel was lovely and we were good to hit the road again. We drove deep into the Zagros Mountains of the Lorestan province. We knew some spots for our main target here but Masoud had a better idea. He had been here before and knew some local people who had our main target on their private land. The family of farmers welcomed us and we were allowed to enter their land. Not for long we found the first Lorestan Newts (Neurergus kaiseri) but many, many more followed. What an amazing experienced to see what has got to be one of the prettiest newts in the world in these crystal clear streams, being surrounded by the most beautiful and pristine mountains. Just fantastic. Around the streams we found Worm Snakes, Hook-snouted Snake (Myriopholis macrorhyncha), Asian Snake-eyed Skink (Ablepharis pannonicus), Southern Grass Skink (Trachylepis septemtaeniata), Banded Dwarf Gecko (Microgecko helenae) and Snake-eyed lacertid (Ophisops elegans). We had a simple dinner with bread and cheese at the farm house and asked the family if we could spend the night on their ground. That was no problem at all and even better, we could roll out our matrasses in their house in the massive guest room. A clear example of proper Iranian hospitality. Afterwards we searched some good looking streams we passed in the morning. We found a few more Lorestan Newts but also Variable Toad (Bufotes variabilis), Levant Water Frog, Lemon-yellow Tree Frog (Hyla savignyi), Gray Leaf-toed gecko (Asaccus griseonotus) under a bridge and a small Braid Snake (Platyceps rhodorachis ladacensis). Several curious locals came to ask what we were doing and found it funny we came to look for newts and toads. Driving back to the farm we had to pass the least friendly dogs I ever met, they were biting the car, tearing of all the plastic parts and adding a few scratches. They even managed to bend metal with their teeth. Not what I would call friendly pets.

30 April 2016

The next morning we had breakfast with bread and a local specialty, deliciously called goat butter by the locals. We searched the surrounding slopes again and found largely the same species as the previous day but also several Yellow-headed Agamas (Laudakia nupta) and a Dotted Dwarf Snake (Eirenis punctatolineatus) going into shed. Then it was time to move on, we drove towards the Kharkeh River just outside Dezful in the south but only saw some Variable Toads and Water Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis). A bit further down the road towards the sanddunes we saw the first Mesopotamian Spiny-tailed Lizard (Saara loricata) and several more followed. In the late afternoon we arrived at the sanddunes but found little more than mortar granates and bomb shells. During the Iran-Iraq War there had been heavy fighting going on in this area. Locals insured us the landmines had all been removed so it was safe to walk around, these granates and bomb shells remained however. The afternoon stroll did not deliver much so we waited for the night to fall. At a local water hole we asked if we could set up tents there and that was no problem. The local dog brought in a half eaten Desert Horned Viper (Cerastes gasperettii) which sadly would remain our only sighting of this species. After darkness we could easily find several Middle Eastern Short-fingered Geckoes (Stenodactylus doriae) and Baluch Rock Geckoes (Bunopus tuberculatus), a Awl-headed Snake (Lytorhynchus diadema gaddi) and a very pretty Arabian Sand Boa (Eryx jayakari). At a second search site we ran into the secret police who patrol the border between Iraq-Iran. It is a well known area for drug smuggling apparantly, so we had to put up our hands and present our guns. After explaining we didn't have guns but dipnets instead, the situation quickly cooled.

1 May 2016

We had a horrible night, with the same dog who brought in the horned viper, barking at every little noise. Scratching your head would be followed by a barking session of 5 minutes. Besides, all the tractors in the region seemed to get their water from this watering hole so already at a very early time we were woken up by a seemingly endless horde of tractors. There went our idyllic desert image... We had a last stroll in the hope of finding Spiny-tailed Lizards in the sanddunes but had little luck and found only a very shy one. We decided to crack on and drive in the direction of Ilam. On the way we stopped at places along the road. First for a Zagros Monitor Lizard (Varanus nesterovi)  which crossed the road and disappeared in a deep burrow. Later we stopped for Mesoptomian Spiny-tailed Lizards with which we were more lucky. What a massive lizards, it is the biggest Uromastycidae and they have the appearance of something very ancient. We also saw another highlight species and ran into a Persian Horned Viper (Pseudocerastes persicus). Late in the evening we arrived in Ilam, and found a very decent, cheap and wifi-equiped accommodation in the Dalahoo Hotel.

2 May 2016

This would be the day we had all been waiting for. Our target species for today was a species we all came to see and was probably number one for all of us, except Joachim who wanted to see Paradactylodon more. In the morning we drove to the DOE office while dark clouds made conditions less good for reptiles. Masoud had send both our passports and permit ahead already, so we didn't have to wait so long. The DOE members knew we were coming and three of them would accompany us today at the Iraqi border. We followed their off-road vehicle towards the border where we stopped at the border police office. No foreigners are allowed at the border but with the DOE members guiding us and with our permit we were allowed to pass through. Passing the beautiful mountain scenery, we drove towards a valley where the Spider-tailed Horned Viper (Pseudocerastes urarachnoides) is known to occur. Even with a permit and with the DOE members we ran into locals who didn't want to have us here, as they thought we were snake smugglers. I can imagine without doing some proper preparations it is near impossible to visit this valley!

In the early afternoon we arrived, the sky became clear and conditions were good for reptiles again. We all spread out through the valley and searched the gypsum rocks for any signs of the viper. The area is arid and the gypsum rocks can get incredibly hot in summer (Fathinia et al. 2009). The hills are potholed and snakes can disappear everywhere so it is not the easiest place to herp. After some hours Joachim was the lucky guy and found our main target some 2 meters high above the ground in a burrow. We were all ecstatic to see this bizar viper in the wild, the most specialised caudal luring viper species in the world! Other species we found in the valley included a very fast Steppe Ribbon Racer (Psammophis lineolatum), Lorestan Toad (Bufotes luristanicus), Yellow-headed Agama, Southern Grass Skink and several Snake-eyed lacertids. What a wonderful experience and truly a dream come true to be here. Sadly we had to leave in the late afternoon and headed back to Ilam, where we celebrated with the most disgusting kebab and fries we ever ate in our lifes. Also the evening was a bit of a disappointment. We wanted to see Leopard Geckoes in this area and had some known locations for this species. But one of the DOE guys knew another great place for this species and we trusted him. Big mistake. After an hour we were standing in a tunnel in oak forest and we all had the idea that this guy doesn't know his geckoes as well as his snakes. We soon gave up, drove an hour back to Ilam and were too tired to drive for another hour to our known spots. But who cares?! We saw the Spider-tailed Viper in the wild!

3 May 2016

Still bedazzled from the previous day we decided to drive on to the north. On the way we stopped at a good looking slope and found Yellow-headed Agamas, Snake-eyed lacertids, Hook-snouted Snake, Worm Snake, Dotted Dwarf Snake and two Persian Dwarf Snakes (Eirenis persicus). Another long drive followed, we stopped somewhere along the road to look for Timon but found only the two worm snake species again and Snake-eyed Lacertids. Late in the afternoon we arrived around Negl. We searched at a stream known to host a large population of Kurdistan Newt but we only found a single larvae of Oriental Fire Salamander (Salamandra infraimmaculata) and a Variable Toad. We went to another valley and while the sun was setting we searched for newts and salamanders. The newts remained illusive but after 21:00 several Oriental Fire Salamanders came crawling out of their burrows and into the wet grass. What a great experience to see these big and beautiful salamanders like this! Some people lost their temper while photographing and the air was filled with the most lyrical German curses. Masoud, me and even Laura learned a lot of new words. It got a bit late but we still found one roadside restaurant to be open. After a tasty meal we tried our luck and asked the friendly owner Yasser if we could sleep somewhere in the restaurant. He opened up the prayer room and we could sleep next to a beautiful (but heavily littered) stream. Before going to bed we had another stroll and found even more Fire Salamanders in another valley. Great!

4 May 2016

Team France had one day less than us in Iran and decided to skip another urodele dedicated search in the favor of some more vipers in the Lar Valley. We said goodbye to them but we would meet them later again. We searched more in the first salamander valley of the previous day and higher along the sloped we found several Kurdistan Lizards (Timon kurdistanicus) in big bushes. In the stream we couldn't resist to cool off and went for a little dip, finding diurnal Fire Salamanders along the stream in the process. The rest of the day we went from valley to valley and from stream to stream in an attempt to find Kurdistan Newts. All to no avail. Luckily Masoud worked his magic, made a few phonecalls and after a tasty lunch we met up with four local ecologists. We followed them into the mountains and in a beautiful stream we could easily find dozens of Kurdistan Newts (Neurergus derjugini). The density here is stunning and thanks to the help of the local people who protect this population and even bring water during the dry summermonths. In only two years they managed to increase the population from 200 individuals to 400. A great result! Along the stream we also found several Water Frogs, Snake-eyed Lacertids and Levant Green Lizards (Lacerta media). Another day in paradise but it was time to hit the road again, we decided to also drive in the direction of Lar Valley to meet our French friends again. Thanks to a never ending supply of trucks on the winding roads we made zero progress and had to sleep in the filthy city of Sanandaj and in the filthy Hotel Kaj. What a tourist trap!

5 May 2016

A day of driving but we made good progress and already in the afternoon we met our French amigos again and searched in the Lar Valley. We found Caucasian Agamas (Paralaudakia caucasia), Alborz Lizards and a great looking Caucasian Pit Viper (Gloydius halys). Sadly we couldn't visit the National Park itself as the president was staying there and it was closed to all visitors. The president is not included in Masoud's vast network of friends so we had to search outside the park's borders. In a nearby town we tried to find a hotel but apparantly on Fridays the whole of Tehran visits the mountains. All hotels were fully booked, the streets were full of crazy traffic jams and we finally decided to just eat somewhere and set up camp at 2600m absl.

6 May 2016

It was a cold night but waking up in this insanely beautiful mountain scenery is all worth it! After a breakfast of bread and cream cheese we searched the slopes again but found the same species as the day before again, only no vipers but a Spotted Whip Snake (Hemorrhois ravergieri) instead. This feisty creature managed to bite almost all of us, and at least Laura and I developed some local swellings in the bitten area. In the early afternoon our French amigos had a flight to catch so we shed tears and said goodbye to them after an amazing trip and an amazing two weeks in the beautiful Iran. We drove to the coast again and arrived in the late afternoon. We were hoping to find some more snakes in the productive spots we found the first day but only found Slow Worms. After dark we saw several Water Frogs, Tree Frogs, a Karelin's Newt and Iranian Wood Frogs but two weeks later made a huge difference. Most ponds we found had less water in them and also less amphibians. The rice paddies produced huge chorusses of Tree Frog however. At the last search site we weren't expecting to find much more but we did see a European Pond Terrapin and finally, when we all gave up hope, a big and beautiful Eichwald's Toad (Bufo eichwaldi). Late in the night already we slipped into our comfortable beds in a cheap apartment we rented.

7 May 2016

A last day in the field for us today. After a nice breakfast we prepared in our apartment, we searched a bit at the coast and found a Dice Snake and a nice Caspian Green Lizard. Afterwards we drove towards Sari to search around a Forest Park. Inside the park we found several European Pond terrapins, Grass Snakes and Slow Worms and outside the park Caspian Green Lizards, Glass Lizards and another Caucasian Pit Viper. Interesting to see is that there are two different ecotypes, the Pit Vipers from the mountains are grey while those from lower altitude forests are reddish. Also we found several Black Whip Snakes. Very defensive snakes which were rattling the tails and not shy of biting as well. Also they look completely different in Greece and Turkey.

And then it was time to leave for us as well, we drove through the mountains back to Tehran, cleaned the car and brought it back and spend our last money on the airport. We said goodbye to Masoud (who bought us a bag full of banana icecream) and felt sad to leave our new friend behind.

Epilogue

Traveling through Iran was even more awesome than I could have dared to dream. Some of the landscapes are out of this world. Every 100 meters the mountains seem to be composed of a different type of rock, giving rise to the most fairytale-like formations. The immense diversity in both habitats and herps is any herpetophiles dream.

Having said that, there is of course a much sadder note to end this trip report, as can be expected on this human planet. Finding suitable habitat can be tricky and habitat destruction is extensive. In the north, vast swaths of riparian forest have been cut down and replaced by rice paddies and smelly villages. Only some small stands of forest remain and they are called Forest Parks which is a fancy name for a place with trees and heaps of trash. These places are very popular for having picknicks (the Iranian national sport) and littering is a discipline in which they excel. Within the National Parks border it becomes clear what the entire coastal plain once looked like and shows the Hyrcanian Forest in all her beauty. Overgrazing is widespread, making soil erosion and aridification a common sight throughout the country. In the south the highly dynamic sanddunes are being tamed by planting trees to stabilise the dunes. Armies of tractors drive through the desert to water these trees. The level of pollution is insane and some steppes look as if plastic is being cultivated as a crops, as far as the eye can see these fields reach. It becomes clear that the natural world is under immense pressure but luckily pristine sites still exists, and are intensely looked after by some very capable people of the Department of Environment. 

Furthermore, the people of Iran are among the kindest and most hospitable I ever met, on all sides you are offered tea, watermelon and a roof to sleep under. We had never problems finding a place to sleep and if we couldn't or were to tired to set up a tent, there was always someone to open up his house, prayer room or garden to us.

Herping here was just great, there is so much to see and so much left to discover. We visited some known locations but also found many new spots ourselves. Surely I will be back here, to see more of the fantastic Iran!

Species

Kurdistan Newt (Neurergus derjugini)

Lorestan Newt (Neurergus kaiseri)

Gorgan Cave Salamander (Paradactylodon persicus)

Oriental Fire Salamander (Salamandra infraimmaculata ssp. semenovi)

Karelin's Crested Newt (Triturus karelinii)

Eichwald's Toad (Bufo eichwaldi)

Lorestan Toad (Bufotes luristanicus)

Turan Toad (Bufotes turanensis)

Variable Toad (Bufotes variabilis)

Levant Water Frog (Pelophylax bedriagae)

Iranian Wood Frog (Rana pseudodalmatina)

Eastern Tree Frog (Hyla orientalis)

Lemon-yellow Tree Frog (Hyla savignyi)

European Pond Terrapin (Emys orbicularis)

Caspian Terrapin (Mauremys caspica)

Spur-thighed Tortoise (Testudo graeca) seen by team France only

Eastern Slow Worm (Anguis colchica ssp. orientalis)

Glass Lizard (Pseudopus apodus)

Yellow-headed Agama (Laudakia nupta)

Caucasian Agama (Paralaudakia caucasia)

Turan Toad-headed Agama (Phrynocephalus mystaceus)

Gray Toad-headed Agama (Phrynocephalus scutellatus)

Mesopotamian Spiny-tailed Lizard (Saara loricata)

Brilliant Ground Agama (Trapelus agilis)

Gray Leaf-toed gecko (Asaccus griseonotus)

Baluch Rock Gecko (Bunopus tuberculatus)

Comb-toed Gecko (Crossobamon eversmanni)

Banded Dwarf Gecko (Microgecko helenae)

Middle Eastern Short-fingered Gecko (Stenodactylus doriae)

Caspian Bent-toed Gecko (Tenuidactylus caspius)

Plate-tailed Gecko (Teratoscincus keyserlingii)

Green-bellied Lizard (Darevskia chlorogaster)

Alborz Lizard (Darevskia defilippii)

Steiner's Lizard (Darevskia steineri)

Striped Racerunner (Eremias lineolata)

Persian Racerunner (Eremias persicus)

Levant Green Lizard (Lacerta media)

Caspian Green Lizard (Lacerta strigata)

Persian Long-tailed Lizard (Mesalina watsonana)

Snake-eyed lacertid (Ophisops elegans)

Kurdistan Lizard (Timon kurdistanicus)

Asian Snake-eyed Skink (Ablepharis pannonicus)

Southern Grass Skink (Trachylepis septemtaeniata)

Desert Monitor (Varanus griseus) DOR

Zagros Monitor (Varanus nesterovi) seen only

Black Whip Snake (Dolichophis jugularis)

Dwarf Sand Boa (Eryx miliaris)

Arabian Sand Boa (Eryx jayakari)

Persian Dwarf Snake (Eirenis persicus)

Dotted Dwarf Snake (Eirenis punctatolineatus)

Spotted Whip Snake (Hemorrhois ravergieri)

Awl-headed Snake (Lytorhynchus diadema ssp. gaddi)

Grass Snake (Natrix natrix)

Dice Snake (Natrix tessellata)

Dahl's Whip Snake (Platyceps najadum)

Braid Snake (Platyceps rhodorachis ssp. ladacensis)

Steppe Ribbon Racer (Psammophis lineolatum)

Diadem Snake (Spalerosophis diadema)

Cat Snake (Telescopus fallax) DOR

Persian Rat Snake (Zamenis persicus)

Desert Horned Viper (Cerastes gasperettii) DOR

Saw-scaled Viper (Echis carinatus)

Caucasian Pit Viper (Gloydius halys)

Persian Horned Viper (Pseudocerastes persicus)

Spider-tailed Horned Viper (Pseudocerastes urarachnoides)

Hook-snouted Snake (Myriopholis macrorhyncha)

Worm Snake (Xerotyphlops vermicularis)

 

Many thanks to Behzad Fathinia, Karsten Grießhammer, Haji Gholi Kami, Gabri Martinez, Ashgar Mobaraki, Omid Mozaffari, Barbod Safaei and Christoph Schneider.