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An agama is any one of the various small, long-tailed, insect-eating lizards of the genus Agama. The agamid genus is composed of at least 37 species across Africa, where they are the most common lizard. They can be found in many sizes, from 12.5 to 30 cm (5 in. to 1 ft.) in length and a wide variety of colours. One of the best known species is the Agama agama, widespread in sub-Saharan Africa. For Eurasian agamas, see the genus Laudakia.
Agamas originally lived in forest and bush across Africa, but have since adapted to live in villages and compounds where their habitat has been cleared. They live inside the thatch of huts and other small spaces, emerging only to feed. If caught out in the open, agamas are able to run quickly on their hind legs to reach shelter. The desert agama can still be found in the dry areas of North Africa. Despite their name, they avoid bare sand.
Agamas are active during the day and are often found scampering around to snatch up their favorite foods. They can tolerate greater temperatures than most reptiles, but in the afternoon when temperatures reach around 38°C (100°F) they will settle into the shade and wait for it to cool. Frequent fighting breaks out between males; such fighting involves a lot of bobbing and weaving in an attempt to scare the opponent. If it comes to blows, they lash out with their tails and threaten each other with open jaws. Many older males have broken tails as a result of such fights. Females may sometimes chase and fight one another, while hatchlings mimic the adults in preparation for their future.
Agamas are mainly insectivores. Their incisor-like front teeth are designed for quick cutting and chewing of their prey. They may also eat grass, berries, seeds and even the eggs of smaller lizards.
Most agamas are polygamous. Males may hold six or more females in their territory for breeding. During courtship, the male bobs his head to impress the female. Occasionally, females initiate courtship by offering their hindquarters to the male and then running until he is able to catch up. The breeding season is typically March-May with eggs being laid in June-September during the season after the rains. Eggs are laid in clutches of up to twelve.
- Agama aculeata Merrem, 1820 – Ground Agama
- Agama agama (Linnaeus, 1758) – Red-headed Rock Agama, Common Agama, Rainbow Agama
- Agama anchietae Bocage, 1896 – Western Rock Agama, Anchieta's Agama
- Agama armata Peters, 1855 – Tropical Spiny Agama
- Agama atra Daudin, 1802 – Southern Rock Agama
- Agama bocourti Rochebrune, 1884 – Bocourt's Agama
- Agama bottegi Boulenger, 1897 – Somali Agama
- Agama boueti Chabanaud, 1917 – Mali Agama
- Agama boulengeri Lataste, 1886 – Boulenger's Agama
- Agama castroviejoi Padial, 2005 – Mauritania Agama
- Agama caudospinosa Meek, 1910 – Elmenteita Rock Agama
- Agama cornii Scortecci, 1928 – Scortecci's Agama
- Agama cristata Mocquard, 1905 - Insular Agama
- Agama doriae Boulenger, 1885 – Nigeria Agama
- Agama etoshae McLachan, 1981 – Etosha Agama
- Agama finchi Böhme, Wagner, Malonza, Lötters & Köhler, 2005 – Finch's Agama or Malaba Rock Agama
- Agama gracilimembris Chabanaud, 1918 – Benin Agama
- Agama hartmanni Peters, 1869 – Hartmann's Agama
- Agama hispida (Kaup, 1827) – Common Spiny Agama
- Agama impalearis Boettger, 1874 – Bibron's Agama
- Agama kaimosae Loveridge, 1935
- Agama kirkii Boulenger, 1885 – Kirk's Rock Agama
- Agama lebretoni Wagner, Barej & Schmitz, 2009 - Lebreton's Agama
- Agama lionotus Boulenger, 1896 – Kenyan Rock Agama
- Agama lucyae Wagner and Bauer, 2011
- Agama montana Barbour & Loveridge, 1828 – Montane (Rock) Agama
- Agama mossambica Peters, 1854 – Mozambique Agama
- Agama mwanzae Loveridge, 1923 – Mwanza Flat-headed Agama
- Agama paragama Grandison, 1968 – False Agama
- Agama persimilis Parker 1942 – Somali Painted Agama, Similar Agama
- Agama planiceps Peters, 1862 – Namib Rock Agama
- Agama robecchii Boulenger, 1892 – Robecchi's Agama
- Agama rueppelli Vaillant, 1882 – Rüppell's Agama, Arboreal Agama
- Agama sankaranica Chabanaud, 1918 – Senegal Agama
- Agama spinosa Gray 1831 – Lanza's Spiny Agama
- Agama sylvana Macdonald, 1981
- Agama tassiliensis Geniez, Padial, and Crochet, 2011
- Agama turuensis Loveridge, 1896
- Agama weidholzi Wettstein, 1932 – Gambia Agama
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- Manthey and Schuster. 1996. Agamid Lizards. T.F.H Publications Inc. U.S.A.
- Spawls S, Howell KM, Drewes RC. Reptiles and Amphibians of East Africa, Princeton:Princeton University Press, 2006.