I’m always excited to come across Agamas and lizards on our travels. They are usually such colourful subjects to photograph, but even those that lack colour are still fascinating because of their beautiful scales, spines and armoury, which the camera captures so well! We are lucky in Southern Africa to have such a huge variety of these little reptiles so my delight is bound to be ongoing as we come across more and more on our journeys around the country.
Agamas are quite common in Namibia, especially in the rocky areas, although there are arboreal and terrestrial Agamas as well. In Southern Africa there are eleven species, all quite similar in appearance but with different colours and marking. They tend to camouflage themselves by picking up the colour of the substrate they inhabit, however when they are breeding they are brightly coloured and it is easy to distinguish between the males and females. Did you know that Agamas can change their colours much like a chameleon does, with males being able to change themselves to resemble females when they are in danger?
The diet of the Namibian Rock Agama (Agama planiceps) consists mainly of insects – predominantly ants and termites.
Females lay between 5 and 18 eggs in the middle of summer and these take about two months to hatch. Don’t you love the ferocious mock teeth markings on her lips? Very scary!!
Tree Agamas (Acanthocercus atricollis) usually have large blue heads and their diet consists of flying insects like grasshoppers, beetles and other goggas that inhabit the bark of trees.
Although I photographed this albino-like Agama in a tree, it’s colouring is a mystery to me and I’m not sure whether it is a rock or tree Agama. It could be a juvenile still getting its colours, or an adult doing its chameleon camouflage trick!
In central Namibia we came across this attractive Jordans Girdled Lizard. Girdled lizards need the warmth of the sun to raise their body temperature, so they are known as heliotherms and as a result they are diurnal. They tend to eat anything that they can catch which means that their diet is wide and varied, even including vegetation if no insects or small invertebrates can be found. Note how well he blends into his environment.
This Black Girdled lizard (Cordylus niger) was basking in the sun at Langebaan in the Western Cape. Its dark colour serves the purpose of allowing it to absorb heat more effectively because it lives in an environment that has a lot of rain and mist.
Finally, I’ll end off with a magnificent specimen of an Augrabies Flat Lizard (Platysaurus broadleyi), which, as its name suggests, was found in the Augrabies Falls area in the Northern Cape.
Unlike their girdled cousins, flat lizards have smooth skin that has an almost velvet finish. They also need the sun to initiate activity and then they spend their day searching for food, basking or interacting with other lizards. Flat lizards tend to live on rocks as these quickly heat up bringing the lizards to their preferred temperature.