Thursday, August 8, 2013

Push-ups And Rainbow Lizards

A male agama agama
The Rainbow Agama of Liberia

One of the first things that welcomed me on my return to Liberia in 2011 was an orange-headed lizard doing push-ups on a rock just outside Roberts International Airport. He bobbed his head up and down like he was excited to see me and when I saw him the childhood memories suddenly flooded over me. I actually found myself smiling as I whispered aloud, "hello, my friend."  

Introducing Mr. Agama Agama

Male agama agama looking at the camera
Mr. Agama poking his head over a concrete well base

Technically these lizards are called Agama Agama, but like Gandolf they go by many names: Common Agama, Red-Headed Rock Agama, or Rainbow Agama. In my sophistication I like to refer to them as "lizards" or "those lizards with orange heads".  

..And He Made Them Male and Female...

There are actually two types of Agama one will see; one is just more or less brown and one has an orange-ish colored head (and sometimes a dark blue body).  Like many species in the animal kingdom the males are the prettier ones here. I guess they need to show off in order to get the ladies' attention as this practice of turning color only happens during mating season. As if this weren't enough they also like to climb up on rocks during this season and start busting out a massive amount of push up reps.  It ends up looking like they are headbanging or be-bopping if you ask me.  Hey, if it works....

Juvenile agama agama lizard
I see a little orange on the body here so I don't know if this is a juvenile male or a female agama.  My guess is a male juvenile. There are some that are even more brown, but they all have this sort of  'cryptic' patterning.

The males are also territorial and will fight to keep their hood. It is fascinating to watch them fight. They do a lot of side winding and tail whipping. It is quite the sight! The loser is sent away to another patch of area to set up his domain, and the winner presumably gets to continue flaunting his pretty head while doing push ups in front of all his neighborhood ladies.

These Things Are Everywhere!

A male is perched upon the tin roof (rather blurry -- sorry). Two females climb the walls running away as I approach

It is not uncommon to see scores of these lizards all scurrying across a rock landscape or the side of a heated concrete wall (as if there were any other type of concrete wall in Liberia). It can be a little startling at first when you see a group of agama scurry; it almost looks like the wall is alive until your eyes focus and you make out the small village of lizards running in all directions.  

Three agama watch with suspicion as I bring the camera closer

For the most part these lizards do seem to be skittish. Perhaps it is just my "kwee-poo" clumsiness but the agama tended to run away from me whenever I got within just 10 feet. This is why I kicked myself for not having a good zoom on my camera in 2011. This past trip I had a better zoom and so I snapped a few pics of them in my free time. I also included a few of my older pics in this mix that are not of the best quality, but I just wanted you to get a glimpse of these fascinating Liberian lizards.  In my opinion they are part of what makes Liberia, Liberia; even though my Liberian friends laughed at me for 'wasting pictures' on lizards! :-) Hope you have enjoyed!

They also seem to have an almost chameleon like quality which makes it a challenge to photograph.  Can you see the one male blended in just to the left of the hole in the wall?

There are actually 3 agama in this pic. Can you spot them?

My friends here found it very humorous that I wasted pictures on lizards.  They figured themselves to be better subject matter. I agree!  God bless Liberia!

1 comment:

  1. God bless Liberia. Funny reading your exclamations like "kwepoo". The only other time I ever hear that is when my grandmother calls me kwepoole!