Its size varies from 13 to 30 cm (5.1 to 11.8 in) in total length. It can often be seen in the heat of the day. In the breeding season, the males develop dramatically colorful markings, the head and neck and tail turning bright orange, and the body dark blue. Outside of the breeding season, the male is a plain brown. The females and juveniles are always more cryptically marked. This lizard can be found climbing rocks and walls. Its primary source of food is insects.
The males are territorial, claiming small to medium-sized patches of land which they defend against other mature males. Juveniles and females reside within the territories unchallenged. The mature males become agitated when confronting each other, nodding vigorously, arching, skipping sideways, and clashing tails. The loser is chased out of the territory. During mating season, males do "push-ups" to attract females.
The species name was formerly applied to a paraphyletic collection of taxa, and mitochondrial DNA analysis of various populations indicates they represent separate species. Consequently, three former subspecies A. a. africana, A. a. boensis, and A. a. mucosoensis are now considered separate species, and A. a. savattieri is considered synonymous with A. africana.
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- Burton, Maurice and Robert Burton. (2002). International Wildlife Encyclopedia, 3rd edition. New York: Marshall Cavendish Corp. p.30.
- Leaché, A.D. et al. (2009). Phylogeny of the genus Agama based on mitochondrial DNA sequence data. Bonner zoologische Beiträge 56(4) 273-78.
- Mediannikov, O., Trape, S. and Trape, J-F. (2012). A Molecular Study of the Genus Agama (Squamata: Agamidae) in West Africa, with Description of Two New Species and a Review of the Taxonomy, Geographic Distribution, and Ecology of Currently Recognized Species. Russian Journal of Herpetology 19(2).
- Agama, The Reptile Database
- Agama agama at the Reptarium.cz Reptile Database
- "Agama agama". Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
- Spawls, S., et al. (2006). Reptiles and Amphibians of East Africa Princeton: Princeton University Press.
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