The desert agama is a diurnal lizard that sits and watches its surroundings for any prey that may cross its path. It avoids detection itself by blending in well with its stony background (7). The diet of the desert agama consists mainly of insects, including beetles, caterpillars and ants, and in some instances it has been known to eat large migratory locusts as they pass through its habitat (2). When it spots prey, the desert agama attacks it by quickly dashing out from its stationary watching position. This species may even jump up to an impressive ten centimetres to catch its next meal (2).
Living in such a harsh, arid environment can be a problem when trying to source water, and one way in which the desert agama overcomes this is by a behaviour known as ‘rain-harvesting’. If any water becomes available, the agama lowers its head to the ground, raises its tail up high and then splays its feet. This position creates a steep angle for any water collected in channels on the scales, which have an outer honeycomb-like structure, to run down into the corner of the mouth and onto the lizard’s outstretched tongue (8).
Potential predators of the desert agama include owls (9), jackals and shrikes (2). If confronted by a predator, the desert agama may defend itself by biting or by making itself appear as large as possible and moving backwards and forwards in an aggressive warning (2).
The male desert agama is territorial, and is generally found in the presence of a number of females (2). Male desert agamas warn off competitors by nodding the head, circling the competitor and performing a straight-legged, strutting walk. If the confrontation comes to a fight, biting is also used (2). Mating in this species takes place in late spring, up until June, after which the female desert agama lays a clutch of up to 12 eggs. Up to two clutches may be laid each year (2).