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Agamas as Pets

With their crests, frills, bright colors, and head-bobbing displays, male Agamas are show-stoppers…and lizard-fan-stoppers!

Pet Agamas have lifespans of 20 - 30 years.

Classification

Agamas are a genus of lizards of the family Agamidae, which has 441 members. Many, such as the Bearded Dragon, Frilled Lizard and Chinese Water Dragon, are popular pets. In this RightPet Agama section, we will focus on the “typical Agamas” - 53 species in the genus Agama.

Range and Habitat

Agamas range throughout much of Africa and south Asia; where the colorful, boldly-displaying males are among the most conspicuous of the native lizards.

Several Agamas, including the popularly-kept Red-headed Agama (A. agama) readily colonize yards, farms and villages; feral populations of this species are established in Florida, USA.

Agamas favor forest edges, arid scrub, rocky hillsides, and desert fringes. Most Agamas spent much time on tree trunks, fallen logs, rock walls, fences and other elevated sites (from which males also display), but they also forage on the ground.

Appearance and Temperament

Agamas are robust lizards with well-developed, strong legs. Most of them do not shed and regenerate their tails. In appearance and behavior, Agamas are sometimes considered to be the Old World equivalents of the Iguanas. Males utilize crests, frills, bright colors and head-bobbing displays to establish territories and attract the somberly-colored females.

Agama pet lizards are alert and quick to flee from danger. Captive-born Agamas may respond well to handling, but unfortunately, many Agamas in the pet trade are wild-caught. For this reason, Agamas tend to remain high-strung in captivity, and are best thought of as pets to observe rather than handle.

In general, pet Agamas do best when left undisturbed in large, naturalistic terrariums or outdoor enclosures.

Agama Housing

Pet Agama lizards are active and will not thrive in close quarters. If provided with a suitably large enclosure, the commonly-available Agama species make hardy pets. how themselves to best advantage when left undisturbed in large, naturalistic terrariums or outdoor enclosures.

Agamas do best when housed in groups of three or more individuals, and a trio of lizards requires a large habitat that is at least 48” long (approximately 100 gallons).

UVB lighting needs to be provided for 12-14 hours a day to allow the Agama to produce vitamin D3, which is essential to the animal's ability to absorb calcium. Fluorescent UVB Bulbs simulate daytime sunlight, and produce both UVA (ultraviolet A), and UVB (ultraviolet B) light, which many reptiles require to metabolize calcium.

Ambient temperatures in the terrarium vary by Agama species, but in general should range from 80-90 degrees F. during the day, with a basking spot around 90 degrees.

The cage should be located in a quiet, undisturbed area of the home, as Agama lizards are very aware of their surroundings and are easily stressed by unexpected noises and movements.

Agama Diet

Pet Agama lizard diets should be comprised of a wide variety of calcium and vitamin-supplemented butterworms, sow bugs, locusts, crickets, roaches, hornworms, super mealworms, and wild-caught invertebrates. The possible addition of a pinky rat each 6-8 weeks, may also be required for proper nutrition.