The Southern rock agama (Agama atra) / Bloukop Koggelmander

Have you ever seen a Southern Rock Agama, aka block koggelmander? It’s a small-bodied lizard with vibrant colors that can be found in South Africa. It is named after its characteristic large blue head, which is why it is often called the block koggelmander.

Due to their captivating display of iridescent blue and yellow scales, southern rock agamas are becoming increasingly popular among pet owners. Not only do they make great pets, but they also have the potential to provide meaningful relationships when kept as emotional support animals (ESAs).

It can be difficult to know what type of care these unique creatures require. In this article, we will take an in-depth look at the southern rock agama and everything it takes to keep them happy and healthy!

Southern Rock Agama Bloukop Koggelmander

South Africa’s Southern rock agama is a family member of the Australian Bearded dragon. Although these two lizard species are about 10 000 km / 6 400 miles apart, there are a few interesting similarities between them.

Southern rock agamas (Agama atra) are described as rather sociable, diurnal, insectivorous lizards, growing up to about 25cm / 10″ in length. Hence the Afrikaans name ‘Bloukop koggelmander‘ (which directly translates to blue head lizard), the heads and upper bodies of the males become bright blue during the breeding season. In contrast with males, the colouration of females are dull which are mainly greyish-brown in colour.

Male Southern rock agama (Agama atra). Males are usually brighter in colour and have distinctive blue heads and upper bodies. Image Bernard DUPONT (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Just like Bearded dragons, Southern rock agamas are from the Family Agamidae. This Family, which is in the Order Squamata, includes all the Old world lizards. Agamidae consist of a very diverse family of, so-called, ‘dragons’, found in Asia, Africa, Europe, Middle East and Australia. All of the Agamidae have large mouths and distinctive shaped heads with spikes or thorn-like structures. When compared with the Inland Bearded dragon, Southern rock agamas are slightly smaller and less robust. Although their spikes are clearly visible, they are smaller when compared with the spikes of Bearded dragons. Although the spikes of agamas are smaller, the body texture is much more prickly to the touch.

Female Southern rock agama (Agama atra). When compared with males, females have smaller heads and are usually paler in colour. Image Sennahoj1 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Unlike Bearded dragons, Southern rock agamas are quite agile and definitely not as docile. Although they are not protected by law in some South African provinces, they are generally not kept as lizard pets. These lizards are very fast runners and very skittish when approached, even from a distance. When approached, rock agamas will often run away and hide for the rest of the day.

Being the African counterpart of the Bearded dragon, Southern rock agamas are mainly distributed in South Africa, Botswana and Zambia. During the day, rock agamas are usually seen basking on elevated rocks. Males are more frequently seen than juveniles and females. Although they have been observed in many environments, the Southern rock agama prefers dryer mountainous areas. In urban areas, they are often found sitting on brick walls and near building rubble.

This adult female Southern rock agama (Agama atra) was found wandering into a building. She was released in a safe place in the garden again.

Interestingly, Southern rock agamas have the ability to change their skin colour. This is not quite the same as with chameleons, but for example, the males can lose their intense blueish breeding colours in favour of brown and grey colours. For males, this allows them to be more visible to females in the breeding season, but less visible to predators during other times of the year. Southern rock agamas can also readily lighten and darken their skin colour. Darker colouration is often seen in stressful situations and during the cooler parts of the day.

Southern Rock Agama Overview:

Common nameAgama, red-headed rock agama, or rainbow agama
Scientific nameAgama
Natural habitatArid and semi-desert environments in Sub-Saharan Africa,
Adult size5– 2 inches
Average lifespan20–25 years
DietAnts, termites, beetles, grasshoppers, small mammals, other reptiles, plants
HousingA fish tank with plenty of ground space, natural branches and rocks, heat lamp, airstone, and a soil or sand substrate
Experience levelBeginner and intermediate

Southern Rock Agama Origin

The origin of the Agama Lizard lies in Sub-Saharan Africa, where it resides in dry, desert-like regions. However, this species has also adapted to various settings and can be spotted basking in urban areas as well.

It is not just limited to these regions; in fact, Southern Rock Agama are quite widespread and can even be found way up in India, Madagascar, and the Mediterranean regions. They were even introduced to certain areas of Florida via reptile trading!

Overall, Agama Lizards are quite common in both wild and urban habitats, but they tend to remain hidden amongst vegetation or other materials for protection.

Appearance and Behavior

Agama Lizards come in a variety of forms, ranging from grey or brown to spectacular color combinations—even earning them the nickname “rainbow lizards”. Dominant Males can change their colors according to the situation, displaying bright blues and reds on their heads and yellows on their bodies to attract mates or assert dominance.

Everyone has a white underbelly and a light-colored stripe down the middle of their tail, with dark patches of skin on either side. Together with external ear openings, eyelids, incisors, and cheek teeth they make for quite an interesting look.

These Southern Rock Agamas may not be aggressive by nature but will protect their territory from intruders if need be. Male Agamas have been known to display various behaviors when threatened like bobbing their heads or charging with mouths wide open.

They also intend to convince the female that they’re worthy suitors before mating, so males will show off by changing colors and bowing repeatedly until they receive consent from the female.

In the wild Agama lizards are territorial creatures and live in social groups with one dominant male who takes up residence at the highest resting point along with several females and subordinate males – unless they manage to overthrow him.

To stay warm during daylight hours they bask in sun rays between 10 am – 12 pm where you can see them darken due to absorbing heat.

Southern Rock Agama Predators and Threats

The agama is a reptile native to many parts of the world, but its natural habitat can sometimes be threatened due to human interference. Although these animals use various techniques to survive and thrive in different conditions, they do face some predators that can jeopardize their survival if not taken seriously.

What eats the agama lizard?

Agamas are hunted by a wide range of predators, including snakes, birds, and small mammals. All of these animals feast on the agama lizard, making the reptile an easy target in the wild.

What does the agama lizard eat?

The agama lizard is a primarily insectivorous creature, meaning that the majority of its diet consists of insects such as ants, grasshoppers, beetles, and termites. It has been known to also snack on small mammals, reptiles, flowers, grasses, and even fruits. Agamas wait patiently for their prey to come along and then launch a sticky mucus-covered tongue to capture it.

In addition to its insects-based diet, agamas also ingest sand and rocks which help in their digestion process. So if you ever come across one of these gorgeous lizards in nature, take a few seconds to appreciate not only its unique beauty but also the variety of food items that it consumes!

Size and Lifespan

The agama lizard is one of the smaller lizards out there, reaching an average size of 5 to 12 inches long. Despite their somewhat small stature, the agama lizard’s tail makes up much of its body length and male specimens tend to be 3 to 5 inches longer than females on average.

When it comes to life expectancy, Southern Rock Agama can live between 20 and 25 years in the wild. However, with proper care and protection from predators, these lizards can live longer in captivity – sometimes even surpassing 30 years! So if you’re looking for a pet lizard that will be sure to stick around for a while, an agama lizard just might be your best bet!


Agama lizards are by nature docile and seem to do well in groups. They will generally live peacefully with other reptiles if they feel safe and secure. They can also be handled by humans, as long as they feel comfortable with you and won’t resort to biting or harming you unless it’s out of fear or distress.

Male agamas are particularly known for head-raising behavior, which is often used as a form of intimidation against predators. This is something that captive lizards may display when feeling threatened or scared.

When it comes to their temperament, experts recommend housing at least 3 Agama lizards together: one male and two females. This helps them thrive as they have each others’ company, which keeps them stress-free and healthy in the long run.

To protect from infection, it is essential to wash the wound with warm water and anti-bacterial soap if bitten.

Housing Agama Lizards

When it comes to housing a Southern Rock Agama, you won’t find a better option than either an aquarium or vivarium. This species of lizard prefer hot and dry climates with plenty of vegetation.

To recreate this type of habitat in captivity, you’ll need to cover the bottom of the tank with either a sand or soil substrate. You should also add rocks for hiding spaces, branches and artificial plants for your lizards to climb and play on, as well as a water bowl and heat lamp to help keep your lizards warm so they can bask in the heat.

Clearly, when you’re looking for the best housing for agama lizards, then be sure to keep these elements in mind!

Enclosure size

Enclosure size is an important factor to consider when keeping Southern Rock Agama. The number of lizards you have will dictate just how big the enclosure should be; for a small group, an aquarium of at least 48x24x24 inches is recommended.

If your agama lizards are in a larger group, the recommended size increases accordingly – so always keep this in mind when setting up their new home.


Lighting is an essential part of providing the correct environment for your lizard. If you are keeping lizards in captivity, they need a heat lamp that produces red light. This light should remain on all day long in order to keep your lizards warm enough, playing a role akin to the sunlight that they would get in their natural habitat.

Temperature and Humidity

Maintaining the right temperature and humidity levels is essential for agama lizards to stay healthy and active.

The temperature within the enclosure should be maintained at 80-85°F during the day and 74-78°F in the evening for optimal outcomes.

The basking area should stay the warmest at 95°F, so it may be useful to use a heating pad to help stabilize the temperature throughout the enclosure.

As for humidity, it’s important to keep levels between 40°F and 60°F since agamas need moisture for shedding their skin – a process that can take up to a week or two. Monitor the humidity with a hygrometer throughout the day and make sure your lizard is getting enough moisture.

Substrate and Decoration

The substrate is an essential component of setting up an enclosure for agama lizards. You can use soil, sand, or a combination of both as a substrate for the bottom of the enclosure.

To provide some form of shelter, you can add decorations such as artificial plants, branches, and rocks. It’s also important to provide bedding that has low moisture retention so they have a warm and dry place to rest and sleep.

Agama lizards need room to move around in their enclosures, so take care not to overcrowd it – separate decorations will give your lizard more space to roam around in. With the right substrate and decorations, your agama lizard will be able to live happily and healthily in its enclosure!

Food and Water

Southern Rock Agama need to be fed a diet consisting primarily of bugs and insects, like crickets, super worms, mealworms, termites, beetles, grasshoppers, and ants. They may also occasionally eat small mammals, other reptiles, and occasional vegetation so you should make sure to provide your agama lizard with enough variety in their diet.

Captive agama lizards should be given 15 to 20 crickets per day or 10 super worms two to three times each week; the insects should not be bigger than the lizard’s head so it can’t risk choking.

In addition to diet, agama lizards also need access to clean fresh water which must be changed daily. As they don’t drink from still water bowls, consider providing them with water via an airstone or water pump instead for optimum hydration.


Cleaning your lizard’s enclosure is an essential part of their care. Daily spot cleanings should be done, which means removing any messes and uneaten food as soon as you see them.

This can be done although lizards are still in the enclosure during these sessions. To make sure the deeper cleanings are done properly, you’ll want to relocate the lizards to a temporary enclosure while deep cleaning every four months.

Make sure this housing environment provides adequate temperature, water and space to properly accommodate your lizards while they wait out the deep clean session you’re doing on their regular home.

You should also completely empty the contents of the enclosure at least once a year and sanitize any decorations and accessories with soap and water—avoid using harsh chemical cleaners for this task.

All of these steps make up a comprehensive cleaning routine for your pets’ home, ensuring it remains hygienic and comfortable for them to enjoy it!

3 Southern Rock Agama Facts!

  • Big front teeth and strong jaws allow them to consume large, tough prey.
  • The males of this species have an alternative name in South African Afrikaans – “koggelmander” (“little mocking man”), due to their courtship technique of bobbing their heads up and down.
  • When disturbed or excited, the agama lizard’s colors will appear more vivid.

Agama Lizard Care

Agama Lizard care is essential for any reptile enthusiast who wants to keep these delightful animals as pets. First and foremost, you’ll need to provide an appropriate living environment.

This means ensuring that the temperature, humidity levels, and lighting needs of the lizard are met. You should also make sure there are some companions in the tank (just make sure not to house males together!).

Finally, handling of your agama lizard can also be important; it should always be done gently and with respect.

With proper care, your agama lizard will thrive, becoming a friendly pet with lots of personality!


When it comes to handling a Southern Rock Agama, you must keep calm and not make them feel stressed or threatened. This type of lizard takes a while to get used to being handled, and it is all too easy to handle them too much, so be mindful of any changes in their behavior.

One way to tell if your Agama lizard is feeling uncomfortable is if they close their eyes, which is usually indicative of stress or fear. In this situation, it’s best to put the animal back in its enclosure.

If done properly, you can guarantee that handling your Agama lizard will be a peaceful and safe experience for both you and the animal!

Common Health Issues

Agama lizards commonly suffer from a variety of health issues, such as metabolic bone disorders and respiratory issues. Inadequate lighting and nutrient deficiencies can lead to metabolic bone problems, and dirty water and an unsanitary enclosure can cause respiratory and bacterial infections. The symptoms typically include weight loss, lethargy, appetite loss, and changes in behavior.

These illnesses can be treated with calcium supplements for the metabolic bone disorder, nutritional supplements or special diets if they lose a lot of weight, light therapy for certain conditions, and antibiotics if there is an infection present.

Additionally, regularly monitoring your agama lizard’s health issues will help you address any potential problems before they get out of hand.


For those interested in breeding Southern Rock Agama, the best time to begin is in March through May. A single male should accompany two or three females in the enclosure to increase your chances of successful reproduction. Females can start laying eggs at 14 months old, and males reach sexual maturity at two years.

To ensure a safe place for the eggs, dedicate a section of the enclosure for them. A lay box or plastic container filled with soft dirt or sphagnum moss will work just fine. When it’s time to lay eggs, which can be up to 20 each time, female agamas bury them in sandy soil – usually located somewhere sunny – and cover them with grass and vegetation for protection.

In order to determine the gender of the hatchlings, you must maintain an incubation temperature around 85 °F (29.5 °C). Generally speaking, 8-10 weeks should pass before hatching takes place.

At this point they don’t need to disturb their environment too much; their 10-20 gallon enclosure should be filled with newspaper and fed crickets until they are ready to join the adults in their main tank space.


Is The Agama Lizard Carnivorous, Herbivorous, Or Omnivorous?

Agamas are omnivores, usually eating mostly insects and occasionally adding some plant matter.

How do I tell the sex of my agama lizard?

Generally, males are bigger than females. The most dominant male usually has bright blue and red markings, while the females have a pair of larger scales around their vent, which is also known as the cloaca.

How active is an agama lizard?

Agamas is a lively pet most of the time but will also take plenty of sun-filled naps.

Do agama lizards make good pets?

Agama lizards make a good pet for reptile enthusiasts of any level, since they’re both friendly and easy to care for. Plus, they can live up to 25 years with the right environment.

Are agama lizards poisonous?

Despite not being poisonous, washing a wound with soap and water should be done in the event of an accidental bite from one.

What is the difference between a lizard and an agama lizard?

Agamas are lizards that have unique traits like a side-to-side running motion, a long tongue, and overlapping scales to help retain moisture in dry climates.


In conclusion, the Southern Rock Agama Bloukop Koggelmander is an incredible creature of fascinating beauty. Not only does its appearance draw attention, but also its unique habits and social behavior make it unique even to experienced reptile enthusiasts.

With proper care and maintenance, these lizards can\ be a beloved part of your home or terrarium. Whether you’re just getting started in the world of reptile keeping or are a seasoned pro, the Southern Rock Agama Bloukop Koggelmander is sure to bring joy in spades!