This species makes an ideal captive and with patience will become very tame accepting food from the keepers' fingers and most will allow themselves to be handled gently. They are very active during the day exhibiting a range of interesting social behaviours with obviously dominant animals quickly taking the best basking spots and being the first to feed etc. However, this small (< 8 inches in total length) very attractive black and orange lizard is rarely seen in captivity. In the wild this agama is endemic to the Transjordanian volcanic desert region of the Middle East. This is an area of pitted black volcanic rock with orange/red sand. The colouration of these agamas perfectly matches this habitat being jet black and, as the common name implies, they are covered with orange spots on the head, body and limbs with orange rings on the tail. The adults are sexually dimorphic with females retaining this colouration but juveniles of both sexes are very similar and difficult to sex. The males develop less spotting as they mature and as with all the stellio group have a line of pores/scales running vertically down the middle of the belly. During the mating season males also have a dark blue throat. Click here to see pictures of the adults.
A pair of adult agamas will do well in a vivarium of 36" x 18" x 12" with a layer of silver sand and rocks/branches to climb and bask on. Groups of animals can be kept together but much larger vivaria are necessary as both males and females (especially during the breeding season) are very territorial. Frankfurt Zoo had an excellent display of a group of these lizards in a very large desert vivarium when I was last their. As with most lizards, ultra-violet light is needed for the formation of vitamin D3 and subsequent uptake of calcium from the diet. This is especially important for young animals that are growing rapidly and gravid females. I use Reptisun 5.0 UVB florescent tubes which are readily available and should be positioned in the vivarium so that the lizards are able to get as close as possible to them for maximum benefit (certainly no more than 12 inches away). In many of my vivariums these lamps are placed within 2 inches of the cage floor so that the lizards can sit directly under, or even on top of, the lamps enjoying the benefit of the UV light emitted and the gentle warmth also generated. It should also be pointed out that the UV output of these lamps is greatly reduced over time and they should be replaced every 6 8 months, or at the very least at the beginning of the breeding season each year. A spot lamp will also be necessary to create a hot spot at one end of the vivarium. The ambient temperature should be approximately 30°C with a hot spot of 35-40°C. The lights/heat should be switched off at night to give a temperature of 20-25°C. Seasonal drops are also needed to stimulate breeding in the spring period and bring the males into breeding condition. An adult female will produce up to three clutches of eggs each year with a clutch size of 6 - 12 eggs.
These lizards are omnivorous and their diet in captivity consists largely of small crickets, dusted in a multivitamin and calcium mix ( I use Reptivite which can be bought from specialist pet shops in the UK selling reptiles). A mixture of vegetable material such as dandelion, vetch, endive, rocket and grated carrot is also offered daily. Dandelion flowers are especially relished when available. Fresh water should be provided in a suitable shallow bowl - small rocks placed in the bowl will help prevent crickets and young hatchlings from drowning.
Hatchlings are rather small (total length approx 1 inch) but quickly begin to feed on small insects and leafy greens growing rapidly in the first few months of their life. All the lizards I sell are at least 8 weeks old and well established.
if you would like to buy any of these lizards (£50 each - discounts available if you buy 5 or more) please contact Steve Vanderhoeven at the email address below. All are sold with a comprehensive care sheet and full email support if needed.
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Web address: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/eleventeen