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Agama Lizard

Agama Lizard Scientific Classification

Agama a Tongo language word meaning “lizard” is a genus of small-to-moderate-sized, long-tailed, insectivorous Old World lizards.  These lizards includes at least 37 species in Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa.  The various species differ in size, ranging from about 12 to 30 centimetres (5 to 12 in) in length, when fully grown.

Their color also differs between species, genders, and according to mood. A dominant male in display mode is far brighter than when it has been caught, beaten by another male, or otherwise alarmed. Females tend to be less colorful than the males.

Agama Lizard Appearance

Agamas come in a wide array of bright colors and distinctive body shapes that should make identification easier. For instance, the common agama, also known as the red-headed agama lizard, is characterized by brown muted colors around the body with a light stripe down the middle and six or seven darker patches on the side. Dominant males tend to have a blue body and yellow head, whereas subordinate males and females tend to have olive-green heads instead.

The size of the lizard can vary anywhere between 5 and 12 inches, sometimes even longer. This is about the same size as a human foot. Size is also one of the most important distinguishing characteristics between agama lizard females and males.

Kashmir rock agama lizard with blue legs and flanks sunning on the rock. by @thsulemani/Shutterstock.com

Agama Lizard Habitat

The African agama lizard can be found in dry forests, grasslands, and deserts, as well as urban and suburban environments, throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Agama territories are always built around a large object such as a tree or boulder. Dominant males defend this small range from intruders.

According to species, agamas live in forest, in bush, among rocks and on crags, but where their habitat has been cleared, or simply occupied by humans, some species also adapt to life in villages and compounds, for example inside the thatch of huts and other sheltering crevices. Agamids’ hind legs generally are long and powerful; and the lizards can run and leap swiftly when alarmed.

Agama Lizard Predators and Threats

The agama faces few serious threats in the wild apart from natural predators. Although habitat loss can sometimes be a problem, these animals are very capable of adapting to human environments.

What eats the agama lizard?
The agama is preyed upon by all kinds of different predators throughout their range, including snakes, birds, and small mammals.

What does the agama lizard eat?
Insects form the bulk of its diet, including ants, grasshoppers, beetles, and termites. It’s also been known to consume small mammals, reptiles, flowers, grasses, and fruits. The agama will sit and wait for its prey to pass by. It will then catch the prey with its sticky mucus-covered tongue. Agamas also consume sand and rocks along with their food to aid in digestion.


Reproduction and Life Cycle

These lizards tend to reproduce during the wet season or any other time of the year with sufficient amounts of rainfall. Only lead male is the only one who’s allowed to mate with the agama lizard females. He will usually initiate the mating ritual with a brief series of head bobbing. The entire reproduction will last for only a few minutes. After the process is complete, the mates will go their separate ways.

When female is ready to lay her eggs, she will dig a hole about two inches deep in wet, sandy soil with her snout and claws. She will then lay a clutch of 5 to 7 eggs inside the hole and cover them with herbs or grasses, just enough to hide them from predators. It will take about eight to 10 weeks for the eggs to hatch. Each baby lizard will measure about 1.5 inches long with an additional 3-inch tail.

Agama Lizard Lifespan

Depending on the species, the agama may have a lifespan as long as 25 years, but most are likely to be much shorter. Many baby lizards fall victim to predators before reaching full maturity.

3 Agama Lizard Facts!

  1. The large front teeth and powerful jaws are adaptations to help them eat large, hard prey.
  2. Males initiate courtship by bobbing their heads up and down. This has given it the alternative name of koggelmander, or “little mocking man,” in the South African Afrikaans language.
  3. The agama’s colors will suddenly become brighter when it’s alarmed or agitated in some manner.

Agama Lizard FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

The agama is an omnivorous animal. Insects make up the bulk of their diet, but they also sometimes supplement this with small bits of plant material.

The butterfly agama or butterfly lizard, a native of Southeast Asia, generally has some kind of gray or olive green skin with yellow or red spots and black stripes along the sides. Males in the breeding season develop bright red and black markings and other prominent characteristics all over their bodies. Most individuals measure somewhere between 12 and 20 inches long. Keep in mind the butterfly agama is a separate genus from the African Agama lizard. It is not considered to be a “true” agama. The much larger size should help with the identification of the butterfly agama. One of the most interesting facts about the butterfly lizard is that some species can reproduce asexually.

Males are generally larger than females. The most dominant male of the group will be arrayed in bright blue and red markings as well. Females will have a pair of enlarged scales near the vent; this is the cloaca.

The agama lizard is good for beginner and intermediate reptile owners. They are relatively docile, easy to care for, and under the right conditions, have an excellent lifespan of up to 25 years.

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