The Agama lizard: A cold-blooded friend

The agama is common in the Middle East and is beneficial to humans.

The agama lizard (photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)
The agama lizard
(photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)
On a hot day, we have all seen it basking in the sun on a hot rock. The agama lizard (Stellagama stellio) sits still, enjoying the summer sun while keeping its eyes open and alert to any danger. If you try to approach the agama, it vanishes in an instant. The agama is the king of its habitat when there is no predator in sight, but as it turns into potential lunch to a nearby threat, this rough and tough lizard stops acting like king, at least until the danger passes.
The agama can reach 30 cm. in length, which makes it a fairly large lizard. It has spiny scales on its body and especially on the tail. It can change its body colors depending on different situations. In the early morning it will show as dark colored in order to help absorb the heat of the sun as efficiently and quickly as it can.
As a reptile, the agama is a cold-blooded animal who depends on body heat for movement. In cold conditions the lizard, like other reptiles, cannot move at all. After basking in the first sunlight, the agama lizard gets enough energy to begin its day hunting insects, flowers and leaves. In the heat of the day the body color changes to lighter hues.
Larger than the female, the male agama invites the females by moving his head up and down while trying to present his good characteristics to the potential female. This movement is the main method of communication between the individuals of this lizard species.
The agama can run very fast while holding its body above the ground and using its strong legs, which are equipped with tough claws. It has sharp senses, good eyesight and can also hear very well, so it is a challenge for anyone to surprise the agama. In midday it is particularly difficult to surprise it when it is charged with full energy.
The agama is common in the Middle East and is beneficial to humans. Its food is usually insects that are otherwise harmful in the fields or in and around our homes. So the next time you see this lizard perching on a rock, know that you are looking at a friend that is trying to keep your neighborhood clean of pests.