Saturday, November 30, 2013

Agama Lizards, Tanzania

At our security gate which takes us out of town to the main road, there is a rather imposing wall running the length of the street between the boom gate and a second motor gate. Yesterday three of us ladies left town at 9am and when we passed the wall we noticed a multitude of agama lizards basking in the sun against the wall.
Agama lizard male (right) with a female a little higher up on the wall

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 “Spider man Lizards.”

As I took photos, I noticed one brightly colored male bobbing his head and swaying towards a female in front of him. 
 An agama lizard male doing a mating dance for the female in front of him
 The male noticed me and glared at me, while the female slid over the edge of the wall

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.
 A young agama male peeks out from a crevice where it hides during the hottest part of the day

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.

I hope you're all having a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. 




  1. Colorful little buggers, aren't they!!! Great captures, Jo!! Hope you're enjoying a great weekend!!

  2. Gorgeous creatures. Nice sighting and shots.

  3. The certainly are cute little guys with amazing mating colour changes. I'm rather partial to creepy crawly things.

  4. An amazing lizard. Sure does look like Spider Man


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