Florida is, of course, a veritable free-for-all of postmodern ecology. Everywhere you turn, you’ll find non-native organisms coming and going, mixing it up and duking it out with another and with our native populations. When it comes to lizards, this is especially true in South Florida. Pictured here are a number of African redhead agamas from Miami-Dade county. The big one with the orange-ish head is an adult male. The others are either females or juvenile males. All of these lizards were photographed in vicinity to one another, scampering about tiles and limestone walls. For the most part, agamas prefer rocky-textured grounds, but in recent years I’ve also been finding them in trees (in parts of Miami-Dade county). They haven’t yet reached my home territory of Volusia county, but there are records of agamas in Brevard — one county to my south. For now, at least, I have to settle with road trips south to get my lens on these awesome lizards.
Now, when it comes to classifying Florida’s non-native agamas, things get a bit fuzzy. For awhile they were generally considered to be Agama agama africana. Then, that subspecies designation was pushed up to the species-level. Thus, they became Agama africana. Now, however, there’s evidence to support that may are actually Agama picticauda, a revived taxonomical designation. Much of the confusion is due to shifting taxonomical changes as a result of source population studies in Africa coupled with closer study of Florida’s non-native population clusters. On top of that, there are numerous, distinct populations of agama throughout the southern portion of the Floridian peninsula, and they weren’t necessarily all introduced from the same geographical source. In other words, we may have more than one species of agama in Florida (depending on how the taxonomy settles). I doubt the shifting sands of Florida’s non-native agamas will settle any time soon, so I’m going with Agama picticauda on this website. For now, at least. You can expect many agama posts in the future. Along with our remarkable anole populations, agamas are among my favorites. Learn more about Florida’s agamas and their respective classification (pdf).