The red-headed agama (also known as the rainbow agama or painted agama) is a species of lizard that is native to sub-Saharan Africa. And as its name suggests, it has a distinctive red head and neck!
Contrasted by this lizard’s blue, sometimes greenish blue, body, the red-headed agama is definitely a lizard that stands out, especially since these lizards have the ability to change color.
And they’re great pets too. Red-headed agamas are active, fun, and have unique personalities, making them fascinating to observe and interact with ( see also our general post on the “Red Headed Agama“).
But like all lizards, red-headed agamas need proper care and attention. They require specific environmental conditions and a varied diet.
They also have specific social and territorial behaviors, which means they may not get along with other species of lizards.
So if you are considering getting a red-headed agama as a pet, it’s important to provide them with the proper care and environment to guarantee their health and well-being.
To help you care for your red-headed agama or decide whether a red-headed agama is the right pet for you, this red-headed agama care sheet will tell you everything you need to know.
The first thing to know about red-headed agamas is that they need their space. For one adult red-headed agama, it’s important to have a 40-gallon tank or cage – at the minimum.
For two red-headed agamas (a male and female), the tank or cage should be at least 100 gallons.
What’s most important is the floor space. It should go without saying that the tank or cage doesn’t need to be tall, so around 12 inches in height is generally enough.
Despite that, the enclosure should still have a secure lid!
To make sure your tank replicates the habitat of the red-headed agama, it’s important to cover the floor space with the right substrate.
A calcium-based sand is the best kind of substrate for red-headed agamas, which can be mixed with wood chips.
You can also mix soil with the sand, as well as place rocks and branches around the tank to make hides and places to climb. Just make sure that these are well spaced out so that your red-headed agama won’t be at risk of getting itself trapped.
You can also use newspaper to layer the bottom of the tank. Replace it whenever it becomes soiled, and replace loose substrate every four months.
It’s also recommended to remove and clean everything from the tank at least once a year.
Alongside rocks, you can also use small cardboard boxes or store-bought clay shelters as hides for your red-headed agama. These are more than decoration, as they will give your red-headed agama somewhere to rest and recharge!
At least three hides will be enough in most cases. Just make sure that the hides are sturdy and have no risk of falling or toppling over.
Temperature And Lighting
To replicate their habitat, red-headed agamas need a basking spot. This should be a reptile bulb of around 60–80 watts, providing a heat of at least 90–100°F.
The tank itself should have an ambient temperature of around 80°F.
A UVB light is also necessary for their health, as it will help your red-headed agama get the vitamin D it needs. It should never be any more than 12 inches away from them, and replaced every 6–12 months.
Humidity And Water
Since these lizards are used to desert climates, your red-headed agama tank should have a humidity level of around 10–20%. They do not need much water, so a small, shallow water bowl is enough for one enclosure.
Despite not needing much water, the water in the tank should still be changed and cleaned daily. Red-headed agamas can also benefit from a daily misting to help or maintain their hydration.
Red-headed agamas are mostly insectivores, feeding on insects and small invertebrates. This includes crickets, worms, and roaches.
For adults, 15–20 crickets make up one feeding session, which should be done at least 2–3 times per week.
Just make sure that the crickets are a good size. Red-headed agamas can also eat super worms and mealworms—around 10 is usually enough for one feeding session—as well as the occasional pinkie mouse (from frozen).
If you plan on handling your red-headed agama, it’s possible but they can be skittish and may try to escape. They should be handled gently and with care, and they should never be picked up by their tails.
Handling a red-headed agama requires patience, a gentle touch, and respect for the lizard’s natural behaviors. Your red-headed agama will warm up to you after a while, as long as you don’t do anything to scare it!
For some tips, always wash your hands before handling the lizard to avoid transferring any bacteria. Approach them calmly to avoid startling them, stroke their back or tail to let them know you are there, and use two hands to pick them up.
If your red-headed agama looks stressed at any point you are holding them, it’s best to put them back in their enclosure.
Breeding And Hatchling Care
If you want to own two or more red-headed agamas and plan on breeding them, it’s an easy enough process as long as you are ready to look after the eggs.
The first step is to provide a suitable breeding environment (the tank recommendations described above) before introducing the female and male.
The next step is to monitor breeding behavior. Mating can be aggressive, so it’s important to monitor them. Provide a nest box filled with moist soil or sand and, when ready, the female will lay her eggs, which can be up to 20 at a time.
These eggs should be removed from the tank and incubated at a temperature of around 85°F for 60–90 days. After hatching, the babies should be looked after in a separate tank until they are large enough to be housed with the adults.
In summary, red-headed agamas are great pets as long as you’re willing to invest the time and resources to give them the proper care and attention they require.
If you read everything in this guide, then you should know by now whether a red-headed agama is the right pet for you!