Animals of Africa: Agama Lizards Brighten Up Tanzania During Mating Season

July 12, 2012
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Most of the time agama lizards are pretty inconspicuous creatures that are brown or gray in color. However, when mating season rolls around, the males turn brilliant shades of red and blue to catch the attention of their female counterparts. This unique quality has earned them many nicknames from “Rainbow Lizards” to “Spiderman Lizards.”

Agama lizards are extremely common in sub-Saharan Africa and can also be spotted across India and parts of Southern Europe. They prefer to make their home in dry, rocky regions, and your naturalist guide is sure to keep a diligent watch for this tiny lizard during your Kenya & Tanzania safari takes you through this environment. Mating season for the agama lizards typically falls between March and May. In addition to changing their appearance, males will also bob their heads when courting females. It is not terribly common, but females have been observed pursuing males by displaying their reproductive parts and then running, taunting the males to catch them. This may be because the animals are polygamous and one male often has a harem of six or more females.

If you get the chance to see an agama up close, you may notice it has scars or a broken tail — males are very aggressive and often get into fights. Their tails are their primary weapons. But they also use scare tactics such as the bob-and-weave movements you might see in a boxing match and opening their jaws wide to frighten their opponents. They are relatively small, averaging about 12 to 18 inches in length.

These reptiles, active during the day, can withstand the high temperatures found under the African sun, but they prefer to find shade or other shelter when the thermostat approaches 100 degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, they typically only emerge from their hiding places to scavenge for food. Insects are the food of choice for the agamas, but you might catch them munching on fruit, grass, seeds and the eggs of other small reptiles.

These animals occur naturally in Africa and other neighboring areas. Because of their distinct coloration, they are also sought after and kept as pets around the globe.


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