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What is an Agama Lizard?

By Casey Kennedy
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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An agama lizard, Agama agama, is a colorful lizard that is native to eastern Africa and is typically found in Kenya and Ethiopia. The adult male will generally grow to around 10 inches (about 25.4 cm) long, but the female is somewhat smaller and grows to about 8 inches (about 20.3 cm) in length. This, however, is not true of all agama lizards since some adults can be a good bit smaller and may only reach a length of around 5 inches (about 12.7 cm) even when full-grown.

Agama lizards are sometimes referred to as rainbow lizards because of the bright shades of color on their bodies. The females, younger males, and adolescents are generally greenish-brown or light-brown colored and may have white underbellies and side markings. They may also sometimes have olive-green heads. Dominant males give the rainbow lizards their name. These colorful creatures are easily recognized by their bright blue bodies, yellow to orange-yellow tails, and heads of red or yellow.

Male agama lizards also have the unusual ability to change color. They will often use this ability to attract females or when circling another male to fight. Males may also change colors when sunning on rocks and typically will position themselves on an area above the juniors and females to show dominance.

Breeding season for the agama lizard generally is March through May. To initiate her willingness to breed, the female agama will expose her hindquarters to the male and then run away. The male will begin his courtship by bobbing his head up and down. Once mating has occurred, the female will lay from two to 20 eggs that usually hatch in one to five months.

These types of lizards are insectivores, meaning that their diet primarily consists of different types of insects. When they are in the wild, the agama lizard dines on ants, termites, grasshoppers, and beetles as the primary staples in their diet. They will also eat a variety of vegetation and fruits, and may hunt small animals, such as mice or other small reptiles.

When kept in captivity, the main diet of the agama lizard is often crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and locust. The lizards require low levels of humidity but do need a fresh supply of drinking water. To maintain a healthy environment, enclosures require daytime temperatures of at least 90° F (about 32° C) with a cooling area of 80° F (about 26° C). Night temperatures are cooler and should average around 76° F (about 24° C) throughout the enclosure.

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