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Calotes Angleheads Dragon Lizards and Relatives: Agamidae

Behavior And Reproduction

Agamids are diurnal (die-UR-nuhl), or active during the day. They spend a lot of time basking, or resting, in the sun. Some species prefer to sun themselves on flat rocky areas, while others like to climb onto tree trunks or shrubs to sunbathe. If the desert species get too hot, they go into cooler underground burrows, or holes, to rest.

Agamids have different ways of protecting themselves against predators. The bearded dragon lizard, for example, has spiny body scales. Some agamids run underground or into a rock crevice (KREH-vuhs), or crack. The Dabb spiny-tailed lizard runs into its burrow and lets the spiny part of its long, thick tail hang out. If the predator keeps pestering it, the lizard swishes its tail from side to side, which discourages most predators.


The thorny devil lizard of the Australian desert certainly looks strange. It has horns, knobs, warts, and pointed armored scales all over its 8-inch-long (20.3-centimeter-long) body. But it is a gentle creature that feeds only on ants. This lizard can eat up to five thousand black ants at a single meal! It laps the ants up with its sticky tongue. This lizard changes its color to match its surroundings, and it also can change its color pattern and body size. When bothered, the thorny devil can take in air so that it puffs up to a larger size. Thorny devils drink by collecting dew on their skin. Dew is made up of little drops of water that gather on cool surfaces. The lizard's assorted skin bumps are arranged so that dew flows through them toward the corners of the mouth.

Agamid males typically are very territorial, meaning that they are protective of their living areas. A male agamid mates with females inside his territory, where several females may live. When challenging other males for a mate, an agamid may bob its head, push up on rocks to make it look bigger, open and close its mouth, and enlarge its dewlap, the expandable flap under the chin. Some males become brightly colored during courtship. The Indian bloodsucker agamid expands the dewlap during courtship, and its head and throat turn bright red. That color gives the "bloodsucker" its name.

Most agamid females lay soft-shelled eggs after mating. The smaller agamid species lay a small number of eggs. The larger species may lay up to two dozen eggs. There may be one egg clutch, or group, per season or several throughout the year. Eggs are usually buried in damp soil or in leaf litter. There are some agamid species, such as the toad-headed lizards, that give birth to live young.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceDinosaurs, Snakes, and Other ReptilesCalotes Angleheads Dragon Lizards and Relatives: Agamidae - Physical Description, Behavior And Reproduction, Spiny Agama (agama Hispida): Species Accounts, Frilled Lizard (chlamydosaurus Kingii):species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, AGAMIDS