How To Identify An Agama
Learn to identify an agama.Of the 50 lizards that belong to the Agamidae family, the agama is considered to be the genus.
Of the 50 lizards that belong to the Agamidae family, the agama is considered to be the genus. The Agamidae family is related to the iguanas and includes in its 200 species such types as the Australian Moloch or thorny devil, the frilled lizard and the flying dragons. The best know of the agama is the foot long agama, which is common in Africa. A male agama's head is bright terracotta and his body is dark blue. He has a tail that is banded with pale blue, white, orange and black. The skin of this lizard is rough to the touch, almost feeling like sandpaper. He has a dewlap of loose skin under his chin and a row of tiny spines on his neck that looks like the comb of a young cock. The agama is the most common reptile in West Africa. If you ever visit the region you can't miss seeing one within the first three minutes you are there. They run up and down the walls of the huts and stores in the villages, even scampering across compounds.
Agamas are mainly insectivorous. The can be seen chasing their prey at high speeds and catching small insects with their tongue or snapping up larger ones directly with their mouth. They have incisor like front teeth that are pointed like those of insectivorous mammals. They may also eat grass, berries, seeds and the eggs of smaller lizards. The common agama is polygamous. The beautifully colored male can often be seen with half a dozen females in a territory he will defend vigorously. When the agama courts, he comes along side the female bobbing his head and then, if she allows him, grips her neck with his jaws. When the female is not in breeding condition the male will continue bobbing until he is exhausted.
Agamas have a very definite breeding season, which always occurs after the long rains of March through May. The females can only lay eggs from June to September, which is when the insect population rises. This provides the female with an ample supply of protein for the formation of eggs. The female will lay up to twelve eggs in clutches.
Mature male agamas that are dominant maintain the bright orange and blue coloring. Weak or subordinate males are dull brown in color. In most cases the common agama has adapted its ways to become a companion of man. Many live in the thatch of huts, emerging to feed on scraps and insects. During the day the agama is extremely active but in the afternoons, when temperatures reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade, they try to find a cool spot and lie down. Agamas always appear to be quarrelling. Fights are constantly breaking out between the colorful males. Even the females chase and fight each other, and sometimes the tiny hatchling lizards play at fighting. When dusk comes the agamas congregate in a communal roosts, usually in the eaves of houses. During this time all males, no matter what their social standing, turn a dull brown color all over. But with the rising of the sun, the brilliant colors return. After a cold night the agama will be literally stiff with cold. It then absorbs energy from the sun, which raises its body temperature so it can carry on with hunting and courting activities. The agama can tolerate greater temperatures than most reptiles, but must be careful not to overheat as the suns power increases. Sparse scrub of the desert gives them sufficient shelter as they dash from one bush to another going about their daily business.