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Namibia


Southern rock and Knobel's agama

Lizards | Namibia

Introduction: Southern rock and Knobel's agama (Agama atra) is a large agama with considerably-sized limbs supporting a flattened body. The scales on the back though are unusually small. They prefer a habitat of rocky outcrops and mountain plateau's, but have been known to shelter under barks of dead trees and rocky plains.

This species form colonies of up to 150 lizards per/ha and both males and females will form hierarchies consistent with territorial behaviour with a dominant male and female. A characteristic of the dominant male is that he will perch on the highest point of his territory and nod his head as a signal for lesser lizards to pay due lizard respect by clearing off, leaving him to mate with a horny dominant female.

Rocks are hugged in times of danger and the brightly-coloured head fades to become camouflaged against lichen-covered rock and if this defence mechanism fails they will scamper off, jumping from boulder to boulder until they can locate a deep crack to hide. Unfortunately rock kestrels and other predators are on the look-out and juveniles often fall prey to snakes.

Distribution: South Namibia, in particular the Orange River extending northwards to the Fish River Canyon.

Diet: Termites, ants and on occasions grasshoppers and beetles. Plant material may also be eaten.

Colouring: Adult males are a tan, creamy and dark-brown colour on the upper body with an off-white belly and a greyish-white tail to yellow with dark crossbands.

Breeding: Females develop their eggs in August to September and lay an initial clutch of between 7 to 18 eggs around January/February time. Incubation periods are 2 or 3 months.

Size: SVL 70 to 120mm. Max SVL 135mm.

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