07 May 2022

Yellow-spotted Agama - Jubail

Whilst birding the Jubail area in early May we came across a Yellow-spotted Agama Trapelus flavimaculatus sitting on top of a pile of rocks. Yellow-spotted Agama are a medium sized lizard about 30 centimetres in length and are also known as Blue-headed Agama for obvious reasons. The one I saw had quite a blue had but the light was very poor so it does not show well in the photo below. Their tails are very long and thin and make up over half their body length and they move extremely fast over the ground. The Yellow-spotted Agama is a common species of lizard found in arid regions of the Middle East from Egypt: North of the Eastern Desert & Northern Sinai to the Arabian Peninsula including Saudi Arabia. They are readily distinguished from the Sinai agama Pseudotrapelus sinaitus by their heavier build, rougher scales and the presence of a gular sac that is darkened and inflated as a threat display. The ear opening is smaller and its dorsal margin is partially covered by pointed scales. In the summer these lizards often sit atop Acacia trees or prominent rocks as a territorial display and to regulate their temperature. They are quite aggressive with a mainly carnivorous diet of small insects. Their skin colour varies from reddish-brown to olivegreen, and is covered in a pattern of heavy yellowish-white spots. Their tails are normally pale yellow; however, male Yellow-spotted Agamas have the ability to go from this drab coloration to something much more vivid and spectacular. The dull reddish-brownish-green skin turns vivid blue, and the pale yellow tail glows brilliant flaming orange. Sometimes a male Agama will only change partially turning just the underside of his head blue, for instance. The colour change happens in seconds and fades just as quickly.