All About the Agama Lizard

The Agama lizard is a generic name given to a large group of small to medium-sized, long-tailed Old World lizards.

This is one of the most common names to distinguish more than 35 species of lizards.

What You Should Know

The Agama lizard is found throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa. It lives among any wild, suburban or urban area that has enough vegetation to supply insects and shelter for reproduction. This lizard is a flexible animal, that easily adapts to any environment.

The Agama lizard hunts by vision, so it will wait for insects to come close to it. Then, it uses its tongue to hold onto its prey. This insectivore eats ants, termites, and beetles. Occasionally, it has also been known to eat small mammals and reptiles as well. It also enjoys vegetation such as fruits, grasses, and flowers. 

What Sound Do They Make?

The majority of lizards don’t make any audible sounds at all. Occasionally, a hissing sound is heard, which communicates fear and discomfort. Others have been heard making a low growing or squealing sound.

Group Characteristics

The majority of Agama lizards live among small groups. Each one has a dominant male that rules over a few sub-males and several females. They start their day by sunning themselves in the morning. During this time, the dominant male takes the most elevated spot, while the subordinates bask in lower areas.

A female Agama lizard reaches maturity around 18 months old with the male following behind at two years old. Agama lizards reproduce during the wet season, but they could reproduce any time of the year. Female lizards lay eggs in a hole using her claws and snout. It’s usually found in damp, wet and sandy soil that’s exposed to sunlight. She will lay five to seven eggs at a time. These eggs hatch after eight to ten weeks.

Immediately, these hatchlings start eating insects, plants, and sand. This adolescent remains solitary during the first two months. Once it hits four months old, the lizard joins with a group. 

How Many Are There?

The IUCN Red List labels the Agama lizard as Least Concern with a stable population. More research is required to determine the current population of this lizard species. The top threat to this animal is snakes, which prey on the Agama lizard as food.

Pop Culture

Lizards are a typical character in today’s TV and movies. With so many species falling into the Agama category, it’s challenging to pick out just the ones that fit. Even with Disney movies, lizards, in general, are found in a slew of animated films.

Interesting Facts

Agama lizards also go by the name rainbow lizards. They put on a colorful display, mostly put on by the dominant male. The majority of Agama lizards are green and brown, but the male quickly shows off while rapidly turning their bodies to a blue color while switching the head to yellow and red.

The word Agama is traced back to the West African Gbe language. This is the same name used for a chameleon. Initially, the name was brought to Dutch Guiana by the West African slaves that were imported into the area. Then, it was used in Creole languages to define all of the local lizards. 

Agama lizards can reach 15.7 inches long, depending on which species it is.

The Agama lizard survives for a long time in the wild unless it encounters snakes. The average lifespan tends to be between 25 and 28 years.

The entire Agama lizard is covered with scales. This lizard has scales across its thighs, neck, and head.