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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Creature Feature: Rainbow Agama.

You know what I hate? Every time there's a nature show host, they're always dressed in khakis. Yeah, yeah, OK, khaki's a very earthy color, and thus kinda goes with what they're saying, but really? It's gotta be one of the least eye-catching outfits in existence.  Nature's a lot more colorful than that, guys. You could totally get away with showing a little flash.



Enter the rainbow agama (Agama agama). It's also called the red-headed agama or common agama. It's native to sub-Saharan Africa.  Its diet consists of insects and the occasional small mammal. It can often be seen in broad daylight, which is a real treat if you happen to catch a male at the right time in the year.

Hooo boy does that name say a lot. During mating season, the males go from being relatively drab brown and black to bright blue with an orange-red head. The tail has some rings on it. Overall, it looks like some kid went nuts coloring an outline of a lizard. A shame it's only for a short portion of the year; this would be stunning year-round. Like a boss.



Agamids in general have some pretty neat features,  too. As the color change in the male agamas might have hinted, the whole group is related to chameleons; they also have things like the strange teeth and sticky (but not long) tongues of their sinister cousins. Before you ask, no, they can't regenerate as well as geckos; they regenerate a little, but not much.  Bearded dragons and Uromastyx are in this group, so if you want a good look at the common agama's relatives, check at your local pet shop.

Before you ask: Yes, the rainbow agamas are available in captivity. No, they are not a good lizard for beginners. They require a fairly large cage (4' x 2' x 2'), a really consistent lighting cycle, and a few other peculiar requirements. Like some other lizards, they need calcium supplements on their crickets. Beware even buying one of these things; I'm sure reputable breeders exist somewhere, but fecal sample testings are advised simply because a lot of them come from the wild. Know where your lizards are coming from...

...then enjoy the acid trip. Groovy.

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