kids encyclopedia robot

Agama facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts

Quick facts for kids
Red-headed Rock Agama.jpg
Red-headed rock agama (Agama agama) in Kenya.
Scientific classification
Agama atra male IMG 4855
Agama atra male, showing the tympanum. Compare coloration with the picture of a female below
Agama atra gravid female IMG 4866
Agama atra gravid female, note how coloration differs from male.

Agama (from Sranan Tongo meaning "lizard") is the name of a genus of small-to-moderate-sized, long-tailed, insectivorous Old World lizards, and also is one of their common names. The genus Agama includes at least 37 species in Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa, where most regions are home to at least one species. Eurasian agamids are largely assigned to genus Laudakia. The various species differ in size, ranging from about 12 to 30 cm (5 in. to 1 ft.) in length, when fully grown.

Their colour also differs between species, between genders, and according to mood; for example, a dominant male in display mode is far brighter than when it has been caught, beaten by another male, or otherwise alarmed. Females tend to be less colourful than the males of the species.

According to species, agamas live in forest, in bush, among rocks and on crags, but where their habitat has been cleared, or simply invaded by humans, some species also adapt to life in villages and compounds, for example inside the thatch of huts and other sheltering crevices. Agamids' hind legs generally are long and powerful; and the lizards can run and leap swiftly when alarmed.

Agamas are diurnal, active during the day. They can tolerate higher temperatures than most reptiles, but when temperatures approach 38 °C (100 °F) they generally shelter in the shade. Males frequently threaten each other by nodding, weaving, and displaying their brightest colours to establish dominance. If that is insufficient, they lash their tails and threaten each other with open jaws. The jaws are very powerful, and older males commonly have damaged tails as souvenirs of past combat. Females may sometimes chase and fight one another, and hatchlings mimic the adults' behaviour.

Agamas are mainly insectivorous, hunting prey by sight and snatching it opportunistically. Their incisor-like front teeth and powerful jaws are adapted to dealing with quite large, hard prey. They also may eat eggs of other lizards, and sometimes feed on vegetable matter, such as suitable grass, berries, and seeds.

Though not formally polygamous, dominant males commonly accommodate several females at a time in their territory. During courtship, and also when asserting his territory, the male bobs his head in display; this gives rise to some of the common names, such as Afrikaans koggelmannetjie (literally, "little mocking man"). Females occasionally initiate courtship by offering their hindquarters to the male and provoking him to catch her. Typically the breeding season is timed for eggs to be laid during the season after the rains. Eggs are laid in clutches of up to 12, depending on species and the size of the female.


Listed alphabetically.

Image Scientific name Common name Distribution
Ground Agama (Agama aculeata) (6536937287).jpg Agama aculeata Merrem, 1820 ground agama Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Republic of South Africa, Mozambique, S Angola, Tanzania, Zambia, Swaziland
Agama africana (Hallowell, 1844) West African Rainbow Lizard Liberia, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone ?, Guinea
Red-headed rock agama (Agama agama) male.jpg Agama agama (Linnaeus, 1758) red-headed rock agama, common agama, rainbow agama Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde Islands, Chad, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, and Madagascar
Lizard, Southern Namibia.jpg Agama anchietae Bocage, 1896 western rock agama, Anchieta's agama S Congo (Brazzaville), Angola, Namibia, Republic of South Africa (NW Cape), Botswana
Agama armata.jpg Agama armata W. Peters, 1855 tropical spiny agama South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Swaziland, southern Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), southwestern Kenya, and central Tanzania
Southern Rock Agama (Agama atra) male (32195027153).jpg Agama atra Daudin, 1802 southern rock agama Southern Africa
Agama bocourti Rochebrune, 1884 Bocourt's agama Senegal, Gambia
Agama boensis Monard, 1940 Somali Agama
Agama bottegi Boulenger, 1897 Somali agama Mali; Mauritania; Niger; Senegal
Agama boueti Chabanaud, 1917 Mali agama Mali; Mauritania; Niger; Senegal
Agama boulengeri Lataste, 1886 Boulenger's agama Mali, Mauritania
Agama caudospinosa Meek, 1910 Elmenteita rock agama Kenya
Agama cristata Mocquard, 1905 insular agama Guinea (Conakry), Mali
Agama doriae Boulenger, 1885 Nigeria agama Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, Central African Republic to Eritrea and Ethiopia, N Cameroon, Sudan
Agama etoshae McLachlan, 1981 Etosha agama Namibia
Agama finchi Böhme, Wagner, Malonza, Lötters & Köhler, 2005 Finch's agama or Malaba rock agama W Kenya, Ethiopia
Harvard University Museum of Comparative Zoology - Agama gracilimembris.jpg Agama gracilimembris Chabanaud, 1918 Benin agama Ghana, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, probably in Chad (L. Chirio, pers. comm.), Mali, Guinea (Conakry), Burkina Faso
Agama hartmanni W. Peters, 1869 Hartmann's agama
Harvard University Museum of Comparative Zoology - Agama hartmanni.jpg Agama hispida (Kaup, 1827) common spiny agama Republic of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, S Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Malawi
Agama impalearis.jpg Agama impalearis Boettger, 1874 Bibron's agama Morocco but it extends south to Western Sahara and east into eastern Algeria
Agama insularis Chabanaud, 1918 insular agama Rooma Island, Guinea
Agama kaimosae Loveridge, 1935 Kenya; Tanzania, United Republic of Congo
Agama kirkii.jpeg Agama kirkii Boulenger, 1885 Kirk's rock agama Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, E Botswana, SW Tanzania
Agama lanzai Wagner, Leaché, Mazuch & Böhme, 2013 Somalia
Agama lebretoni 2013 2.jpg Agama lebretoni Wagner, Barej & Schmitz, 2009 Lebreton's agama Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Fernando Poo (Bioko Island), Nigeria
Red-headed Rock Agama.jpg Agama lionotus Boulenger, 1896 Kenyan rock agama Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia
Agama lucyae Wagner & Bauer, 2011 N Ethiopia
Agama montana Barbour & Loveridge, 1928 montane (rock) agama Tanzania
Agama mossambica W. Peters, 1854 Mozambique agama Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, E Zimbabwe
Agama mucosoensis Hellmich, 1957 Mucoso agama Angola (Mucoso, Dondo, and Libolo/Luati)
AgamaLizard.jpg Agama mwanzae Loveridge, 1923 Mwanza flat-headed rock agama Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya
Agama parafricana S. Trape, Mediannikov & J. Trape, 2012 Benin; Ghana; Togo
Agama paragama Grandison, 1968 false agama N Nigeria, N Cameroon, Mali, Central African Republic, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin, probably in W Chad (L. Chirio, pers. comm.), Niger
Agama persimilis Parker, 1942 Somali painted agama, similar agama Somalia, Ethiopia, E/NE Kenya
Agama picticauda (Peters, 1877) Gabon
Namibian Rock Agama (Agama planiceps) (8603173387).jpg Agama planiceps W. Peters, 1862 Namib rock agama Namibia (Damaraland, Kaokoveld)
Agama robecchii Boulenger, 1892 Robecchi's agama N Somalia, E Ethiopia
Agama rueppelli Vaillant, 1882 Rüppell's agama, arboreal agama Somalia, E Ethiopia, Kenya, S Sudan
Agama sankaranica Chabanaud, 1918 Senegal agama Guinea (Conakry), Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo, Mali, Cameroon (?), Senegal, Niger
Agama somalica Wagner, Leaché, Mazuch & Böhme, 2013 NE Somalia
Agama spinosa Gray, 1831 Lanza's spiny agama Egypt, Sudan, N Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, N Somalia
Agama tassiliensis Geniez, Padial, and Crochet, 2011 Mali (Adrar des Ifoghas), Niger (Aïr Mountains), Algeria (Ahaggar Mountains), Libya (Tassili n’Ajjer)
Agama turuensis Loveridge, 1932 Tanzania
Agama wagneri S. Trape, Mediannikov & J. Trape, 2012 Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde Islands, Chad, Ghana, Guinea (Conakry), Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Ivory Coast.
Agama weidholzi Wettstein, 1932 Gambia agama Senegal, Gambia, W Mali, Guinea-Bissau
kids search engine
Agama Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.