Agama agamaCommon Agama, Rainbow Lizard
Found in most of sub-Saharan Africa (Harris 1964).
Rainbow lizards can occupy urban, suburban and wild areas that supply enough vegetation for reproduction and insects for food.
The agama lizard is characterized by its whitish underside, buff brown back limbs and tail with a slightly lighter stripe down the middle and six to seven dark patches to the side of this stripe. There is some sexual dimorphism. The subordinate males, females, and adolescents possess an olive green head. A blue body and yellow tail and head characterize the dominant male.has a large head separated from the body, a long tail, well-developed external ear openings and eyelids. This lizard also has acrodont, heterodont teeth. The lizard possesses both caniniform incisors for grasping and molariform cheekteeth for crushing. The maximum size for male lizards is twenty-five centimeters and female lizards is twenty centimeters (Harris 1964).
Females reach sexual maturity at age fourteen to eighteen months, males at two years.reproduces during the wet season although they are capable of reproducing nearly year round in areas of consistant rainfall(Porter et al. 1983). The male will approach the female from behind and head bob to her. If she accepts then she will arch her back with her tail and head raised. The male walks to her side and grasps her neck and puts his leg on the female's back, the pair swivel 90 degrees in order to bring their cloacas together and thrusts his tail onto her cloaca inserting his right or left hemipenes (depending on side location). This mating ritual usually lasts one to two minutes when the female will scurry away and the male also after several minutes (Harris 1964).
The female lays her eggs in a hole she digs with her snout and claws. The hole is five centimeters deep and is found in sandy, wet, damp soil that is exposed to sunlight nearly all day and covered by herbage or grasses. The eggs are usually laid in clutches ranging from five to seven ellipsoidal eggs.is a thermoregulated embryo species resulting in all males at twenty-nine degrees Celsius and all females at twenty-six to twenty-seven degrees Celsius (Crews et al. 1983). The eggs will hatch within eight to ten weeks. Hatchlings will be between 3.7 and 3.8 centimeters snoutvent plus their 7.5-centimeter tail. They will almost immediately start eating rocks, sand, plants, and insects. The adolescent will remain solitary for the first two months and by four months live in a gregarious group with a dominant male (cock), several females and some subordinate adolescent males (sub-males). The dominant male has mating distinction within his territory. If a sub-male or intruder tries to mate with his females then there is a challenge or fight. To gain territory males must establish a new territory with no cocks or dispose of the current cock (Harris 1964).
The agama is mostly a docile lizard except for a cock who defends his territory. There are several identifiable behaviors in this species (head nod, head bob, challenge display, threat display, fighting, and basking). The head nod is whenrepeatedly raises and lowers his head, usually seen at the end of movements, possibly to show cock position of individuals. Head bobbing, also known as push-ups, is the raising and lowering of the head and chest. This is done in an alert posture, it also occurs in the reproductive behavior of the cock. Shown to females when in reproductive colors, one to two begins courtship. The challenge display is shown by the cock to intruding males or sub-males showing reproductive color. This is only seen in territory situations. The threat display is the rapid up and down movement of the head with the gular sac fully extended. The whole body raises and lowers.
During fighting males display different colors, usually a dark brown head and a pale blue-grey gular pouch is displayed to show intention (Harris 1964). Fighting is a series of bluffs, threats and combat. The challenge occurs when a sub-male or intruding male of reproduction color comes into a territory. The resident cock will challenge from a display post showing the gular pouch while head bobbing. The intruder will react by retreating or staying and displaying. If the intruder stays then the cock will charge to within two feet and will change colors and threaten again, he will then rush within six inches and will side hop with mouth open. The males will then reverse directions and strike each other with their tails.
Basking occurs mainly in the morning between ten and noon, whenhas a darker dorsal coloration than later in the day. The cock will have the best most elevated site with the sub-males having the next best followed by the females (Harris 1964).
are primarily insectivores, however have been known to eat small mammals, small reptiles, and vegetation such as flowers, grasses, and fruits. Their diet consists of mainly ants, grasshoppers, beetles, and termites (Harris 1964). is a sit and wait predator (Crews et al., 1983). Hunting by vision, it sits in vegetation, under a rock outcropping, or in the shade and waits until an insect or small mammal walks by and then will chase the prey. They catch their prey by using a tongue with a tip covered by mucous glands; this aids the lizard in holding onto small prey such as ants and termites.
Ryan Hilgris (author), Michigan State University, James Harding (editor), Michigan State University.
Crews, D., Gustafson, J.E., Tokarz, R.R.. 1983. Physcobiology of Parthnogenesis. Pp. 205-232 in R Huey, E Pianka, T Schoener, eds. Lizard Ecology. Studies of a Model Organism.. Cambridge, Mass. and London, England: Harvard University Press.
Harris, V. 1964. The Life of the Rainbow Lizard. London, England: Hutchinson Tropical Monographs.
Porter, W., C. Tracy. 1983. Biophysical Analysis of Energetics, Time-Space Utilization, and Distributional Limits. Pp. 55-83 in R Huey, E Pianka, T Schoener, eds. Lizard Ecology. Studies of a Model Organism.. Cambridge, Mass. and London, England: Harvard University Press.
Regal, P. 1983. The Adaptive Zone Behavior of Lizards. Pp. 105-118 in R Huey, E Pianka, T Schoener, eds. Lizard Ecology. Studies of a Model Organism. Cambridge, Mass. and London, England: Harvard University Press.
Simon, C. 1983. A Review of Lizard Chemoreception.. Pp. 119-133 in R Huey, E Pianka, T Schoener, eds. Lizard Ecology. Studies in a Model Organism.. Cambridge, Mass. and London, England: Harvard University Press.
Stamps, J. 1983. Sexual Selection, Sexual Dimorphism, and Territoriality. Pp. 169-204 in R Huey, E Pianka, T Schoener, eds. Lizard Ecology. Studies in a Model Organism.. Cambridge, Mass. and London, England: Harvard University Press.