Skip to main content
AnimalsFun Facts

Reptiles found in the Kruger – The southern tree agama

By January 7, 2016No Comments
southern tree agama
Male southern tree agama. 
There are 37 different species of these long tailed lizards found throughout Africa, which vary in an assortment of colours and many sizes.

The southern tree agama is considered a large agama with a broad head and can reach lengths up to 35 cm (13 inches) and in some cases even more.

Breeding male’s heads are bright blue in colour, while their front limbs are yellow and tints of orange are seen on their backs with tail tips that looked as if they were dipped into blue paint. Females vary in different shades of grey with light coloured markings of green, orange and yellow on their backs and tails.
southern tree agama
Female southern tree agama well camouflaged. 

Southern tree agamas are found in most of central Africa down into southern Africa including the countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, the Congo, Angola and Namibia. Within South Africa they are seen mostly along the coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal and up towards the eastern bush-veld such as in the Kruger.

They make their home in habitats from forests to savannahs and even in residential areas such as gardens. 

This creature often basks in the sunshine on trees or on rocks in gardens or in the wilderness. They are active during the day and can tolerate higher temperatures more than most reptiles. However when the temperatures reach a sizzling 38°C (100°F) they will find a shady place to keep cool.

Fights often break out between male southern tree agamas that involve head bobbing and weaving in an effort to scare their rival. Battles will sometimes evolve into using more intense actions such as lashing out using tails and threatening one another with open jaws, occasionally ending in broken tails as a result. Females are also known to fight and chase one another.

Southern tree agamas munch on small creatures such as caterpillars, grasshoppers, beetles, termites and ants using their incisor-like front teeth for quick cutting and chewing.

southern tree agama  
Incisor-like teeth. 

Most species of agamas are polygamous with males having up to six or more females within their territory for breeding purposes. Males bob their heads in an effort to impress females while occasionally the females may initiate mating by showing off their hindquarters and then running for the males to give chase.

The mating season is from March through to May after which between 5 to 12 oval shaped, soft-shelled eggs are laid within a hole dug in the moist soil during the months of June to September. The young hatch 90 days later and are 7 to 8 cm in length.

Did you know?

The southern tree agama can give a painful bite.