I put the following
together several years ago. Since it isn't as comprehensive as most of
my other articles, I didn't put it up at my website. As requests for information
on agamas have increased, based on their being more frequently sold in
the pet trade, I decided to put this at my site. After reading through
it, be sure to see the information at the bottom for finding more information.
The Agamidae are Old
World lizards. The agamas are a genus of the Agamidae, comprising some
60 species and many subspecies.
to central Asia. A. stellio may be found as far north as southeastern
dry areas bordering forest edges, rocky steppes, and sand deserts.
triangular head is typical of all the genera, though the proportion may
vary. Spiny/spiky scales along the back of the head and thighs. Some may
be dorsoventrally compressed. Some may have spiny or shingled tails with
laterally compressed bodies. Males have anal pores and typically have
larger heads than females.
or gray. Male breeding colors may be red, blue or yellow. Like many lizards,
some species may undergo color changes in response to temperature changes
in nature, but some are semi-arboreal.
Most are carnivorous,
feeding on a variety of invertebrates. Some may be slightly omnivorous,
feeding on greens or fruit. Gut load insects before feeding. Larger specimens
may be converted to day old pink mice.
live in colonies and thus exhibit territorial behaviors (head bobbing).
Males often highly territorial and will likely need to be house separately
or in harem groups.
Females play an active
role in selecting mates by courting males. Oviparous, females lay 2-20
eggs per clutch and may lay several times a year. Incubation takes from
1.5-4.5 months depending on species.
A spacious, dry terrarium
that can be set up, depending on species, as desert, steppes or dry woodland.
There should be some humidity, best provided by a damp sand substrate
under a dry sand later (in desert setups) or by non-toxic potted plants
embedded in the substrate in one corner of the steppe or woodland setup.
Hiding place throughout the gradient must be provided (these wild-caught
lizards are nervous initially, though many will eventually acclimate to
Hints: An environment
suitable for a collared lizard (Crotaphytus
collaris) will suit most agamas. If your agama of unknown species
does not thrive, you can try warming the basking area and nights up a
bit. If that doesn't work, you can try a more woodland (such as for blue
tongue skinks (Tiliqua scincoides intermedia) or montane, such
as for Jackson's
chameleons (Chameleo jacksonii). Of course, you must have the
lizards checked by a reptile veterinarian for problems associated with
parasite infestation, dehydration and systemic infection as well as fine
tuning the environment!
77-90 F (25-32
C) during the day; warmer basking spot required. At night, temperatures
should drop by 10 degrees across the gradient. Species from the colder
northern part of the range may require a 2-3 month brumation/hibernation
period. Montane species should be kept at 50 degrees during this time.
Follow safe hibernation practices (do not hibernate first year in captivity,
stop feeding 1-2 weeks before dropping temps, etc.) See the Lighting
& Heating article for the types of products that can be used to
provide day and night heating.
rocks, or walls daily. May learn to drink from a shallow dish if initially
provided with sound/sight cues (let an ice cube melt from overhead to
drip into the dish).
essential during the day.
have numerous subspecies.
Agamas. Africa. To 16 in. (40 cm). Grayish brown with small crest. Vivid
color changes to red, yellow, blue and other markings. 3-8 eggs.
Agamas. Southwestern to central Asia. Savannah. 12 in. (30 cm). Up to
three clutches of 8-10 eggs a year. Winter rest period. Susceptible to
parasite attacks during acclimation period, otherwise generally easy to
or Rock Agamas. Southern Africa. 8 in. (20 cm). Very dark. Must be kept
Agama. Kenya. Forest edge, semi-arboreal. 10 in. (25 cm). Grayish brown
with white, yellow or greenish dot pattern. Keep relatively moist. Keep
terrarium relatively warm at night.
Agamas. Caucasus to northern Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan. Montane (up to
6500 ft (2000 m.) elevation). To 14 in (35 cm). Stocky, flattened dorsoventrally,
spiny tail. Brown to olive-gray with darker patterning. Minor color changes.
6-14 eggs. Winter rest recommended.
Agamas. Southern Africa. 12 in (30 cm). Conspicuous dorsal spines, keeled
abdominal scales. Grayish brown to glossy green. 12-20 eggs.
Atlas Agamas. Northwestern
Africa. Montane. To 12 in. (30 cm). Grayish brown with conspicuous color
changes. Two clutches of up to 12 eggs each. Difficult to maintain due
to significant temperature reduction required at night.
Agamas. Central Asia. Montane up to 11000 ft (3500 m) to 14 in (35 cm).
Winter rest period required. Hardy.
Desert Agama. North Africa to southwestern Asia. Rocky and sandy
deserts. 10 in (25 cm). Smooth scales, yellow to reddish brown with spotted
pattern. Strongly diurnal. 5-10 eggs. Somewhat difficult to maintain.
Red-headed Agama? (No common name noted in Obst, et al.). Southwestern
Africa. Mountain regions. 14 in (35 cm). Spines on nape of neck, shingled
tail. Red head and thorax, rest mainly blackish-blue. Substantially herbivorous.
Southwestern Asia to northeastern Africa, some parts of Greece. Rocky
habitats. Over 14 in (35 cm). Spiny, strongly compressed dorsoventrally.
Gray to almost black with light colored spots. Up to three clutches of
8-12 eggs each. Winter rest recommended.
Obst, Fritz Jurgen,
et al. The Completely Illustrated Atlas of Reptiles and Amphibians for
the Terrarium. 1988. TFH Publishing, Neptune City, NJ.
Wynn, Richard. Lizards
in Captivity. 1981. TFH Publishing, Neptune City, NJ.
Reptile Database: Agamidae
For more information
on agamas and agama care, check out the past issues of the various herp
magazines. You can also do a search in search engines such as Yahoo
using the keywords agama
+lizard. The Researching Herp Information
article has additional suggestions for identifying species and finding