A few weeks ago, while having a smoke at the back of our practice, my PA inquires whether I’ve seen our new reptile visitor. Now, this is KZN, South Africa which makes this a a very vague question as we have found multiple snakes in our garage and many types of lizards all over the place.
The question also stemmed from a Skink basking on the wall, one or two giant Snails miserably failing at hiding behind the gutter, a mole heap dirtying the cement floor and many tropical geckos waiting for their next lucky day meal on the walls. As she asked the question I refer to the Skink, which she hasn’t even noticed but said it was a bit larger and rougher in appearance. The only thing I could think of was a “Bloukop Koggelmander” and as I had to run back in to entertain my probably long waiting non-appointment making client(s) at the time.
Now I’ve seen many Bloukop Koggelmanders the old Nothern Transvaal and to be honest, the possibility of being a Agama was quite intriguing. As a child I’ve even tried to keep one as a pet once, but the consequences of not knowing how to properly take care of them was quite grave.
So lo and behold! This week, this little bugger finds its way into the practice’s front door. As is not the exception, but the rule, I had to catch it. As these guys are extremely fast, they can be quite a challenge to catch, but with my experience I managed to catch and take photos within 3 minutes.
Not being a keen traveler in South Africa, with limited knowledge about where they are commonly seen I suspect that this is a female Southern Rock Agama (Agama atra). On WikiPedia they are described as rather sociable, diurnal, insectivorous lizards, growing up to about 25 cm in length. Hence the Afrikaans name, the heads of the males become bright blue during the breeding season. The females are shy compared to their male counterparts and is mainly greyish-brown in colour.
What is interesting about these specific lizards is that they have some ability to change colour. This is not quite the same as with chameleons, but for example the males can lose their intense breeding colours in favour of more cryptic colouration.
After grossing out everyone that is scared of frogs, snakes and lizards among my staff, I let her free back into the garden…