African lizard 'Spiderman' and a destiny that now sees it in danger

Photographed for the first time in 2009 by Roy Daines, from that moment on, the demand on the market for this specimen has grown dramatically and now there are many specimens that live, unfortunately, in captivity

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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African lizard 'Spiderman' and a destiny that now sees it in danger

It looks like Spiderman for its colors, but it is instead a splendid lizard. The lizard is the Agama mwanzae, it lives in East Africa, between Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda. Its peculiarity are the colors of the scales of the male specimens, which have colored scales all over the body.

The colors are very reminiscent of those of the costume of the famous Marvel superhero. Lizard Agama mwanzae also recalls Spiderman and because it is seen when it climbs on rocks or trees to hang the sun, often vertically, just like Spiderman on the skyscrapers of New York.

At night, when the lizard is frightened or when fighting with other species it changes color. Photographed for the first time in 2009 by Roy Daines, from that moment on, the demand on the market for this specimen has grown dramatically and now there are many specimens that live, unfortunately, in captivity.

All this took place by tearing the animal from its natural habitat.

Dominant males do not willingly give up their territory, so it is not uncommon to see these lizards face each other with tail flicks, and eventually run away running only on their hind legs.

These lizards, which can reach 30 centimeters in length, love to bask in the sun on the rocks, but the progressive reduction of their natural habitat has led to an adaptation of the species, which manages to live well even in contact with humans.

Subordinate females and males have to be content with a dull shade of brown. At night then, each individual of agama mwanzae wears a sober and safer brown suit.

Lizards in the world

Lizards have a flat, triangular head, flat trunk and long tail; they are quadrupeds, even with not evident legs (in the Anguids such as the little worm), tiny (in the Skincids such as the Luscengola) and external ears without auricles (for the single species see category Saurians).

They have eyes with black pupils and yellow iris, eyelids, a forked tongue that acts as an organ of touch and as a hunting weapon: through saliva it holds the small prey it feeds on, such as insects, larvae and worms. It features two strong jaws and two symmetrical rows of teeth.

It is characterized by autotomy, the ability to detach a portion of its tail in case of danger, deceiving the predator; this will grow back later. The length of the adults varies from a few centimeters (Caribbean gecko) to about three meters (Komodo dragon).

In addition to the autotomy they are able to heal even the most extensive wounds; other lizards manage to assume the attitude of false death, better known as apparent death or thanatosis.
Species of the suborder Lacertilia are found in almost all over the world, with the exception of the northern part of North America and the far north of Asia.

Most of the species prefer tropical and subtropical humid habitats, but there are those that live in more temperate areas or that have adapted to arid and semi-desert environments.