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Butterfly Agama

Butterfly Agama
Leiolepis belliana

These stunning lizards are sometimes over looked, however their requirements are very similar to the popular Bearded Dragon. Native to Vietnam, this is a very active species and becomes tame over time.

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What does the Butterfly Agama look like?

The Butterfly Agama is a large species reaching an adult length of 12-15 inches (30-38cm), males have a bulker look compared to females. The overall body colour is grey to olive green with light yellow spotting along the back. Both sexes have striping down the flanks, however males during breeding conditions are bright red and black. They have smooth scales all over the body and their head shape is quite distinctive; this is rounded with little snout present, looking more like an Uromastyx or Tortoise.

Where is the Butterfly Agama from?

Living in hot arid areas of Vietnam and southern China, the Butterfly Agama is often found in open areas with low vegetation. Mainly seen basking on rocks, if startled they will quickly run back to the safety of their burrow. Butterfly Agamas are predominantly monogamous; meaning they only have one mate for life or one partner at any one time. They are found living in groups however, they inhabit their own burrow alone or in pairs.

How do you keep Butterfly Agamas?

The Butterfly Agama requires a large vivarium due to its size and active nature, therefore a minimum 48x24x24” enclosure should be provided for a pair. One very important factor with this species, is the depth of the substrate that is required. Butterfly Agama will dig their own burrows and sleep in these during the night, sometimes even concealing the entrance. Two good substrates to use would be the Lucky Reptile Desert Bedding and/or Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate.

Providing décor for your Butterfly Agama should consist of rocks, cork bark, wooden roots and artificial plants.

Living in warm arid areas, this species requires a high basking area of 35-37.5C (95-100F). This can be accomplished a number of ways; using a ceramic heater, high wattage basking bulb or a mercury vapour bulb. All these should be connected to a thermostat apart from the latter. One advantage of using a mercury vapour bulb, this will provide the UVB the animal requires; different wattages can be used depending on the size of the enclosure. One interesting fact to point out, the ground temperatures can reach a scorching 57.5C (135F) in the areas they are native to. The ambient temperature range should be in-between 24-29.5C (75-85F) and allow to drop to around 70C (21F) at night.

Providing the correct UVB is important for any reptile; due to the extremely high basking area this species requires, we would recommend using a 10% UVB bulb or ideally a mercury vapour bulb.

Butterfly Agamas are primarily insectivores, however some will take small amounts of fruit and vegetables. Feeding a varied diet of crickets, locusts and mealworms dusted with a vitamin and calcium supplement twice a week will keep your pet healthy. Fresh water should be provided daily and changed if soiled.

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