CREATURE FEATURE: Red-Headed Rock Agama

The Red-Headed Rock Agama (Agama agama) is a lizard found in most of sub-Saharan Africa.

The Red-Headed Rock Agama has a brown-black body, red head, white underbelly, and a tail with a light stripe down the middle. The dominant male has a red head, blue body and yellow tail, whereas females and adolescents have an olive-green head.

Its size varies from 13-30 cm (5-12 inches) in total length. Males are usually longer than females.

Red -Headed Rock Agama

Red-Headed Rock Agama – a dominant male

 

The Red-Headed Rock Agama can be found native in countries such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde Islands, Chad, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo in arid conditions.

It is active throughout the day. It is an insectivore, feeding mainly on insects, but also vegetation. They catch their prey using their tongue. The tip of their tongue has mucous glands that enable the agama lizard to hold onto their prey.

Male agamas are territorial and fight other males to claim their territory. The Red-Headed Rock Agama lives in social groups including a lead male, about six females and subordinate males. Subordinate males can only lead their own group if they eliminate the existing lead male, called a cock. Only the cock is allowed to mate with the females.

The centre of a cock’s territory is usually marked by a physical object, such as a tree or boulder.

Females are ready to mate when they are 14-18months old, while males take two years to mature. Females will dig a hole in damp soil, about five centimetres deep with her nose and claws. She lays 5-7 eggs, that hatch after about 8-10 weeks.

The Red-Headed Rock Agama has thermoregulated embryos, which means that it has temperature-dependent sex determination. If the temperature around the eggs is 29 degrees Celsius, the babies will be male. If the temperature is 26-27 degrees Celsius, the babies will be female.

Red-Headed Rock Agama

Red-Headed Rock Agama – female and male

Red-Headed Rock Agama

Red-Headed Rock Agama – male

Red-Headed Rock Agama

Red-Headed Rock Agama – female

Red-Headed Rock Agama

Red-Headed Rock Agama – female

Red-Headed Rock Agama

Red-Headed Rock Agama

 

 

Photographer: Martina Nicolls

Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM

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