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Southern Tree Agama Fact File

Acanthocercus atricollis

Credit: Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Weight

Insufficient

Data

Length

12-15cm

(4.7-5.9in)

Lifespan

Wild 25-28 years

Captive 25-28 years

Diet

Carnivore

Insects

Conservation Status

IUCN

Least Concern

Bright Bold Males and Drab Females!

The southern tree agama has markedly different males and females. Males have a bright blue head which they use during displays to attract the attention of the drab brown or tan females.


They are carnivores which primarily feed on ants but will also take other insects.


Females produce a clutch of between 4 and 15 eggs which are deposited in the soil. Larger females will produce larger clutches.


This species is considered common though some are threated by the medicine trade, habitat loss and persecution due to a belief that they are venomous.


Read on to learn more about these radical reptiles.

Appearance

What does the Southern Tree Agama look like?

Males have a bright blue head which they use to impress females during the mating season. His back is dull blue with small yellow spines across it. The head of the male is also significantly larger than the female.


Females are colored a light brown or tan color across their body with darker shades forming lines across their body.


The body of an adult is between 12 and 15cm (4.7-5.9in) long though this does not include the tail which may make up as much as half of their length.

Adaptations

How does the Southern Tree Agama survive in its habitat?


The southern tree agama has strong claws which assist them to climb up the trunks of trees.

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Diet

What does the Southern Tree Agama eat?

Southern tree agamas are carnivores which feed on a range of invertebrates. Ants make up the main component of their diet.


This species is primarily an ambush hunter and is rarely if ever seen moving.

Learn more about the Southern Tree Agama in this video from Stories Of The Kruger on YouTube

Range

Where do you find the Southern Tree Agama?

As their name suggests this species is found in southern Africa.. Their are confirmed reports of the species from Botswana; Eswatini; Malawi; Mozambique; South Africa and Zimbabwe.

They may be present in The Democratic Republic of the Congo but this requires further research.

Some records of this species may be incorrect following the recent split of Acanthocercus atricollis in to three species.

Habitat

Where can the Southern Tree Agama survive?

This species is found in savanna, woodland and forest clearing habitats.


As their name suggests they are tree dwelling and spend much of their time around large trees. They show a preference for trees with a large trunk diameter and high levels of canopy cover.

Southern Tree Agama (Acanthocercus atricollis)

Credit: Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Reproduction

How does the Southern Tree Agama produce its young?

This species will breed during spring and summer.


Southern tree agamas lay clutches of between 4 and 15 eggs. Their eggs have a soft shell. The larger a female grows the larger a clutch of eggs she will produce. These are deposited in a hole dug in the soil.


Eggs hatch after a 3 month gestation period.

Behavior

What does the Southern Tree Agama do during its day?

These lizards are considered to be primarily arboreal and spend most of their life in the treetops. They will only come to the ground to seek out insects on which they can feed or to move between two trees.


This species is active during the day. At night this species will sheek shelter in a tree hollow or under a piece of bark.


Males perform displays to defend their territory during which they will bob their head up and down.

Southern Tree Agama (Acanthocercus atricollis)

Credit: Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What stops the Southern Tree Agama from surviving and thriving?

Populations of the southern tree agama are considered common with the species believed to be stable across most of its range.


This species has shown an ability to persist in areas of degraded habitat which provide higher prey densities. They also live in fruit trees where available allowing them to take advantage of artificial habitats.


In some areas they are heavily persecuted due to a belief that they are venomous. Some regions they inhabitat are subject to tree clearing to provide timber presenting another threat.


A small portion of the population in areas of their range associate this species with medicinal properties and they may be collected to supply this.

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Quick facts

This species was first described for modern science during 1849.

This species may also be known as the black-necked agama.

Two races of this species are widely accepted with another four having been proposed but not finding acceptance among scientists.

Southern Tree Agama (Acanthocercus atricollis)

Credit: Ludovic Hirlimann, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

References

Spawls, S. 2020. Acanthocercus atricollisThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T110132395A20519412. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-3.RLTS.T110132395A20519412.en. Accessed on 27 March 2022.

Jungledragon.com. 2022. Black-necked agama (Acanthocercus atricollis) – JungleDragon. [online] Available at: <https://www.jungledragon.com/specie/12889/black-necked_agama.html> [Accessed 27 March 2022].

de Wets Wild. 2022. Southern Tree Agama. [online] Available at: <https://dewetswild.com/2018/04/27/southern_tree_agama/> [Accessed 27 March 2022].

Krugerpark.co.za. 2022. Southern Tree Agama – Reptiles – Africa. [online] Available at: <https://www.krugerpark.co.za/africa_southern_tree_agama.html> [Accessed 27 March 2022].

Southafrica.co.za. 2022. Southern Tree Agama – Reptiles – South Africa. [online] Available at: <https://southafrica.co.za/southern-tree-agama.html> [Accessed 27 March 2022].

Kurt Safari. 2022. Southern Tree Agama | Kurt Safari. [online] Available at: <https://www.kurtsafari.com/kruger-national-park-news/kruger-park-reptile-guide/southern-tree-agama/> [Accessed 27 March 2022].

Southlands Sun. 2022. Southern tree agama | Southlands Sun. [online] Available at: <https://southlandssun.co.za/84737/southern-tree-agama/> [Accessed 27 March 2022].

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