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Red Headed Agama

Nicole Cosgrove

Native to the sub-Saharan regions of Africa, including Nigeria, Madagascar, and Togo, the African Red Headed Agama is a lovely little lizard that makes a great pet for both novice and intermediate reptile pet owners.

Known for its bright ruby-red head and turquoise-blue body, the Red Headed Agama is a unique animal that could make a fabulous addition to your home.

Here is everything you need to know about the Red Headed Agama.

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Quick Facts about the Red Headed Agama

Red-headed Rock Agama edit1
Red-headed Rock Agama edit1 (Image Credit: Chris huh, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 3.0 Unported)
Species Name: Agama Agama
Common Name: Red Headed Agama, African Red Headed Agama
Care Level: Moderate
Lifespan: 20+ years
Adult Size: 14 inches
Diet: Crickets, Worms, Frozen pinkie mice
Minimum Tank Size: 2 x 3 feet
Temperature & Humidity: High 80s (degrees F), High humidity

Do Red Headed Agamas Make Good Pets?

The Red Headed Agama makes an excellent pet for both beginner and intermediate reptile owners. Those looking for a cuddly pet or folks who are squeamish around insects should not consider getting a Red Headed Agama. Owning any type of reptile is a huge commitment and responsibility. If you’re not prepared to provide the proper environment for your pet, the Red Headed Agama may not be right for you.

Red-headed Rock Agama (Agama agama) male
Red-headed Rock Agama (Agama agama) male (Image Credit: Bernard DUPONT, Flickr CC SA 2.0 Generic)

Appearance

The male African Red Headed Agama has a bright red head and a deep blue body. These colors may intensify during the breeding season. Females and young male Red Headed Agamas are olive green or brown with cream-colored bellies. This reptile can grow to be about 14 inches long from tip to tail.

Related Read: Spiderman Agama

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How to Take Care of a Red Headed Agama

Red-headed rock agama (Agama agama) male
Red-headed rock agama (Agama agama) male (Image Credit: Charles J. Sharp, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)

Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup

The Red Headed Agama must be kept in a large enclosure A 2 x 3-foot tank is the appropriate size for only one lizard while a 100-gallon tank is good for a pair. You should only keep hatchlings in a 20-gallon tank. When it comes to Red Headed Agamas, floor space is much more important than height. Never house males together as they will fight and hurt themselves. Females can be kept in small groups with one male if you plan on breeding your lizards.

Tank

A large, glass tank is a great enclosure for the Red Headed Agama. Bigger is always better when it comes to the tank size. Provide your lizard with at least three hiding boxes. These hideaways can be as simple as cardboard boxes. You can also purchase clay or rock hides. Also, add fake branches, rocks, and other items to the cage that enable your Red Headed Agama to climb and explore.

Be sure to spot clean the enclosure daily. Change the water daily and remove all uneaten insects in the evening before going to bed.

Lighting

The Red Headed Agama is exothermic. This means that is relies on outside heat sources to stay alive. Your lizard needs several types of lighting, including a basking light, a reptile bulb, and a UVB light. Mimic the natural light of the day as best you can. This means leave the lizard’s lights on for 12 hours and keep them off for 12 hours during the evening and nighttime.

Heating (Temperature & Humidity)

The Red Headed Agama requires ambient temperatures ranging between 83 and 86 degrees F. A heat mat will ensure temperatures inside of the enclosure will remain consistent. Avoid using heating rocks as these can burn your Red Headed Agama. Humidity levels should be kept between 40% and 60%. Keep an eye on the humidity levels by using a hygrometer.

RED-HEADED AGAMA (Agama agama africana) (2-4-2016) dade co, fl -03
RED-HEADED AGAMA (Agama agama africana) (2-4-2016) dade co, fl -03 (Image Credit: ALAN SCHMIERER, Flickr, CC0 1.0 Universal)

Substrate

Line the bottom of the enclosure with mulch, wood chips, coconut husk, or sand. Fully change out and replace the loose substrates every four months. If you decide to use newspaper, replace it when it becomes soiled.

Tank Recommendations

Tank Type 100-gallon tank for pair
Lighting UVB, reptile, heating bulbs
Heating Heating pad/tape on bottom of enclosure
Best Substrate Newspaper, Wood chips, Mulch

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Feeding Your Red Headed Agama

The Red Headed Agama is a natural carnivore. As such, it thrives on a high-quality diet of proteins. Crickets, mealworms, and super worms all make superb food selections for the Red Headed Agama. Feed your lizard about two to three times per week. It will eat about 10 super worms or 15 to 20 crickets. Adult Red Headed Agamas will eat around 40 to 50 mealworms per feeding. Offer your Red Headed Agama the occasional thaws or frozen pinkie mouse as an occasional treat. Ensure your pet always has access to clean, fresh water.

Diet Summary

Fruits 0% of diet
Insects 95% of diet
Meat 5% of diet – pinkie mice
Supplements Required N/A

Keeping Your Red Headed Agama Healthy

While generally healthy reptiles, the Red Headed Agama can develop certain health issues later in life. This can include metabolic bone disease. UVB lighting and vitamin D powder supplements can easily remedy this issue.

Red-headed Agama (male) Agama agama, Fairchild Tropical Gardens, Coral Gables, Florida
Red-headed Agama (male) Agama agama, Fairchild Tropical Gardens, Coral Gables, Florida (Image Credit: Judy Gallagher, Flickr CC 2.0 Generic)

Lifespan

The Red Headed Agama can live for 20+ years in captivity. A well-balanced diet and the proper heat and humidity levels are required for a happy and healthy pet.

Breeding

Breeding Red Headed Agamas is a relatively simple process. It’s important to be ready for their eggs. Keep a male with one or more females. Never house two or more males together. It is best to introduce the two genders in March or May when the daylight hours start to get longer. Put an egg-laying box in the tank when you notice the female is starting to get round with eggs. Ensure she gets plenty of calcium during this time. Each female Red Headed Agama can lay up to 20 eggs. Once she lays her eggs, immediately remove them from the enclosure and put them in an incubator with a constant temperature of about 85 degrees F. The eggs will hatch within three months.

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Are Red Headed Agamas Friendly? Our Handling Advice

The Red Headed Agama is not an aggressive lizard. It may be jumpy when first being handled. It is best to handle your reptile as little as possible to avoid making it stressed.

red headed agama on a tree log
Image Credit: Varun Kulkarni, Pixabay

Shedding & Brumation: What to Expect

The Red Headed Agama generally has an easy time shedding its skin. A healthy lizard will shed its old skin in about a week or two. When your Red Headed Agama is shedding, do not handle it.

How Much Do Red Headed Agamas Cost?

The Red Headed Agama is a much more affordable lizard than many other reptiles and will cost around $25. You can buy a Red Headed Agama at your local pet store, from a reputable reptile breeder, or online.

Care Guide Summary

Pros
  • Docile nature
  • Cheaper than other reptiles
  • Simple diet
Cons
  • Males cannot be housed together
  • Needs larger enclosure
  • Does not like to be handled a lot

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Conclusion

If you’re in the market for a great little lizard, consider getting a Red Headed Agama today! This reptile needs a spacious cage, high temperature and humidity levels, and plenty of insects to stay healthy and happy. It is a great pet for beginners!


Featured Image Credit: Tambako The Jaguar, Flickr CC ND 2.0 Generic (Red-headed Agama)

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.