West African Rainbow Lizard
lizards in this part of Florida were generally considered Agama africana
until a recent study
decided that they were really Agama picticauda
Fairchild Tropical Garden, Coral Gables, Miami-Dade County, Florida—December 30, 2006
Yet another in the ever-growing list of non-native reptiles that are established in southern Florida. The bright orange head on the adult male caught my eye, and after getting a few photos I looked around the area to see if I could find any others. Sure enough, I saw three or four more on nearby rocks, though the rest were all youngsters like the stump-legged fellow in the second photograph.
Thanks to Kevin M. Enge of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission for identifying this species. More info about this lizard's distribution in Florida is available online here. Note that the identity of this species has been changed/clarified in the years since the referenced web page was updated.
Coral Gables, Miami-Dade County, Florida—December 28, 2008
I found a small colony of these wary lizards across the road from where I had seen them a couple of years earlier in Fairchild Tropical Gardens. In addition to the adult male and juvenile visible in this photo, there was also an adult female and at least one more juvenile spending their time in about a ten-foot sunny break in the hedges along Old Cutler Road. I saw them in this same spot nearly every time we walked or drove past this spot over the course of a week.
Linda Dor Highway Rest Stop, Bunso, East Akim County, Eastern Region, Ghana—August 12, 2018
On the way from Bobiri Forest Reserve to Atewa Range Forest Reserve, we pulled into the Linda Dor rest stop to stretch our legs, use the facilities, and enjoy a snack. More enjoyable even than the snacks was the thriving population of agamas running back and forth at the fringes of the parking area (and sometimes into the various shops and restaurants).
Thanks to Dr. Adam Leaché for confirming the identity of this species.
Atewa Range Forest Reserve, Akyem Abuakwa County, Eastern Region, Ghana—August 14, 2018
We encountered another somewhat less domesticated population of these agamas as we hiked out of the Atewa forest. They were much warier than the ones living at the rest stop.
Matheson Hammock Park, Coral Gables, Miami-Dade County, Florida—February 28, 2021
Meanwhile, back in Florida, these non-native lizards have become easier and easier to find.
Fairchild Tropical Garden, Coral Gables, Miami-Dade County, Florida—March 3, 2021
Fairchild Tropical Gardens, where I was excited to see one of these lizards back in 2006, is now crawling with them. It's not hard to find twenty or thirty in an hour now.