Meet the Southern Tree Agama

 

The Southern Tree Agama is probably the largest lizard species that you will encounter in your garden in the Durban South area. The Water Monitor is the only other lizard that is considerably larger than the Tree Agama.

The males of this species are real show offs with their bright blue heads that they often bob up and down in territorial displays. The females are a lot less colourful than their male counterparts.

However I have noticed that if the male lizard feels as if its colour has led to him being seen, he can lose all the blue colouration almost instantly.

I enjoy watching these majestic, powerful lizards climbing and hunting insects on my boundary wall at my home on the Bluff. However to get a good picture of one is far from easy, as they have excellent eye sight, at the first sign of danger they scatter, often putting the wall or the other side of a tree between me and themselves. The Tree Agama is an opportunistic hunter and will eat any insect or even smaller reptile that they can overpower.

 

A question that is often asked by people who fear them, “Are they Dangerous?”

NO, these lizards do not possess and sort of venom, nor do they have any sort of poisonous saliva, making them completely harmless. As is the case with all other reptiles, if danger comes their way, they would rather flee than stand and fight, these lizards can run at high speed and will usually try find the nearest tree or wall to climb to get away from danger. However if they are caught, they will not hesitate to bite in order to defend themselves, if the danger persists  they will then turn tail and chase their attacker with mouth agape and hissing.

if the male lizard feels as if its colour has led to him being seen, he can lose all the blue colouration

These lizards are becoming an increasingly rare sight in urban areas due to habitat destruction, as well as the introduction of cats and dogs into the environment. They are also often killed by people who fear them as they think that they may be harmful.

The next time you see one of these majestic lizards in your garden, take a minute to observe and enjoy the presence of a wild little creature in your garden, as there is absolutely no need to fear the Tree Agama.

 

  AUTHOR
Lauren Beukes
Journalist

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