The Butterfly Agama Lizard, known scientifically as Leiolepis
belliana, has become one of the most sought after lizard
pets. But even though they are popular, not much is known
about their life in the wild.
The Butterfly Agama is gray or olive green on top, and
yellow or red with black stripes on its sides. It has a
rounded wedge-shaped head and a long elegant flattened body,
and long legs with long toes and nails. They have no crest
or gular pouch but do have a gular fold. Their tail is long
and characterized by scales slightly keeled in shape running
along the top. The scales over most of the body are very
small and resemble grains of sand. Femoral pores are present
on the males as well as the females. Over all, the Butterfly
Agama is a quiet, elegant beauty of a reptile.
The Butterfly Agama is native to Vietnam and other areas of
Asia (Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, and Indonesia). They
live in open, arid regions and are diurnal, meaning that
they live on the ground rather than in the trees. They often
dig deep burrows for their homes. The Butterfly Agama has
been reported to be monogamous.
The Butterfly Agama eats insects, but will eat vegetation on
occasion. As pets their diet should primarily consist of
insects such as crickets, meal worms, earthworms and the
like. Some fruits and vegetables may also be given as a
treat. Some Butterfly Agamas may like fruit and vegetables,
but their diet should mainly consist of insects.
The Butterfly Agama grows up to twenty inches (a little over
a foot and a half), or fifty centimeters in length at full
maturity, and will live ten years on average if kept
Butterfly Agamas should be kept in an arid vivariam with a
deep substrate so they can dig burrows. Their enclosure
should be at least four feet in length and a foot in width.
A basking rock should be provided for the basking area on
one side of the tank, and full-spectrum UV lighting should
be provided for the entire length of the tank. The
temperature should be kept at an average 85 degrees
Fahrenheit during the day with a basking area of 95 degrees
Fahrenheit. The temperature should be lowered at night by 10
Keep in mind when decorating their tank that you will have
to clean it regularly (at least once a week), sifting the
substrate for feces or throwing out the substrate if it
develops a foul odor. Be careful when you are cleaning the
tank if your pair of Butterfly Agama Lizards may have mated.
They will lay their eggs in their burrow and any rough
handling could possible damage the eggs.
Fresh water is essential to the survival of your Butterfly
Agama Lizard, and changing the water at least once a day is
necessary for the health of your lizard. The reason for
scrupulous cleaning and clean water is that even if it
doesn't look like your lizard has drunk from the water it
may still be dirty. Reptiles often instinctively use water
for their toilet. (In the wild that practice helps to keep
predators from tracking them.)
Research its needs before you get your Butterfly Agama, and
try to give it a habitat as similar to its native land as
possible, and your pet should have a long and happy life