The Agame des colons

Agama agama

Known on La Réunion as the Agame des colons, or Agame Africain or Margouillat des colons, it is the largest naturalized reptile of the island. As a matter of fact, it can reach a maximum total length of 40 cm.

It is recognized by its two orange marks. One envelops the head and descends to the joints of the upper limbs, the other mark, almost widespread, is located in the middle of its tail. The rest of its body is of a brown to night blue color, more or les impregnated with pale or dark grey depending on the mood of the individuals. The female one is smaller, brown tinged with gray, paler than the male, with longitudinal orange strips on the flanks. Sub-adults and young ones have an assorted head yellow to pale green lines, sometimes with the top of the head dotted with green and yellow lines on the flanks.

Populations of the Agame des colons were first observed on La Réunion by dockers at Le Port and this goes back to 1996. Therefore, it is more plausible that it has arrived by boat and has debarked at Le Port around 1995. The Agame des colons is today very present on the sector between La Possession and l’Etang Saint-Paul.

During the breeding season, male ones engage in clashes that comprises of series of feints, threats and attacks. This is why intimidation parades exist – to avoid fighting and the injuries that it can result in. The Agames’s main competitor on La Réunion would be the Oriental Garden Lizard, Calotes versicolor. It is common to spot both species on the same site.

The Agame des colons is an omnivorous opportunist. Its diet comprises of insects for the most part. During the wet season it also consumes seeds and fruits. Besides, there is an acknowledgement that it attacks his own young ones, as well as small species of reptiles, birds and mammals, dead or alive.

It is a hunter on the lookout. In other words – it hunts on sight – it remains immobile on plants or under rocks ans waits for an insect or a small animal to pass near it and then it attacks. Its tongue is covered with mucus glands that helps the Agame to capture small prey like ants or termites.

Its large size, its agressiveness and the fact that it is an omnivorous opportunist contribute in making the Agame des colons a potentially dangerous species for the endemic geckos of La Réunion. If it extends over the already reduced range of the Green Gecko of Manapany, it can lead to the latter’s rarefaction and the complete extinction of this patrimonial endemic species.

As far as the reintroduction of the Gecko Vert de Bourbon, Phelsuma borbonica, is planned in the LIFE+ Forêt Sèche project on the lower part of the Massif de la Montagne, the presence of the Agame des colons could jeopardize Phelsuma borbonica if no control of this threat is implemented.

Source : Nature Océan Indien