Red-headed Rock Agama

  • SCIENTIFIC NAME: Agama agama

  • SWAHILI NAME: Kikoti askari siku; Mjusi kafiri

Boasting a brilliant red head and an electric blue body, a dominant male agama during mating season resembles a miniature version of some mythical beast. Among the most common lizards in Africa, these small, long-tailed reptiles live almost everywhere south of the Sahara. Changes in coloration play a key role in their behavior, communication, and reproduction.

Red-headed Rock Agama

Red-headed Rock Agama



Daily Rhythm




Life span

Insufficient data

Conservation Status

Not evaluated by IUCN


Insufficient data


5 to 12 in (12.5 to 30.0 cm) long, including tail

Red-headed Rock Agama

Tracks and Scat

Tracks: Difficult to track from prints due to the agama's small size and preference for rocky terrain; line down center of art represents the tail dragging
Scat (not shown): Similar to a bird's; contains both dark fecal matter and white urea; urea is loosely attached.

Red-headed Rock Agama tracks

Trivia Question

Which agamas get the sunniest spots for basking?


Sunbathing is a social activity for agamas! They lounge in the sun in the late morning, when their backs tend to a darker color (and so absorb more heat) than later in the day. Dominant males get the best, or highest, spots for sunbathing. Next come the juveniles, and then the females.

Social Structure

Young red-headed agamas live by themselves, but join a group by the time they are four months old. Groups include females, juvenile males, and a dominant male. Male agama lizards defend their territories fiercely. They challenge intruding males by bobbing their heads—an action that looks like the lizard is doing pushups. During fights, the male’s body changes color to dark brown with a blue-gray pouch on their throats.


Agamas communicate mainly with their bodies, either through movements and postures or by changing colors. Head-bobbing means different things depending on whose doing the bobbing. Between males, it signals a challenge: “Do you want to fight?” But when a male head-bobs to a female, he’s trying to impress her in an attempt to mate. Subordinate males, females, and juveniles are typically a dull, olive brown, while a dominant male is brightly colored.


Red-headed agamas spend their days hunting for food, basking in the sun, and occasionally seeking out a bit of shade to cool down.


The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has not evaluated this lizard, however there are no significant threats to this species.

Range & Habitat

Red-headed rock agamas live throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa.

These lizards occupy a diversity of habitats—everything from deserts, savannas, forests, and mountains to cities and suburbs.


Agamas mainly eat insects, especially ants, grasshoppers, beetles, and termites. They will also consume berries, other fruit, seeds, eggs, flowers, grasses, and even small mammals. They wait in shadows for prey to pass by. When it does, they give chase and catch it, usually with the aid of their sticky, mucous-coated tongues.


Females are sexually mature at age 14 to 18 months; males reach maturity at 2 years. Only the dominant male mates with the females in his territory. Mating tends to occur in the wet season, but agamas can breed any time they have access to water. A male courts a female by head-bobbing to her. After mating, the female digs a two-inch (5-cm)-deep hole in moist, sandy soil where she lays five to seven eggs. During the day, she leaves the top open so that the sun can warm the eggs; at night, she covers the hole with plant matter. Hatchlings emerge in eight to ten weeks.

Friends & Foes

Insufficient data, but snakes are likely predators.

Population in Kenya & Beyond

The red-headed rock agama is quite common. Its population is stable, but no total numbers are available.

Red-headed Rock Agama

Did you know?

The male red-headed rock agama is sometimes called the Spider-man lizard because of his red-and-blue coloring.