Added 11 January 2013. Last updated 3 June 2022.

A look at the Family Agamidae


Night Agamas


The genus Brachysaura contains the single species B. minor. The Night Agama is unusual for an agamid and being mainly crepuscular and nocturnal, ie being active at dawn, dusk and during the dark hours (although Khan and Kumar say it is actually diurnal as well as crepuscular). Another unusual aspect is their apparent apathy towards approaching humans according to both Manthey and Schuster and Khan and Khumar. The former recommend the species as an easily kept and undemanding charge, but do suggest setting up the lighting so that a crepuscular (ie dawn/dusk) period is created.

Brachysaura are terrestrial and in the wild use already existing holes as hiding places. See Manthey and Schuster for further terrrarium setup suggestions. Khan and Kumar state that this species is rarely reported in some parts, possibly because of its secretive habits, but is abundant in others and call it one of the widest ranging lizards in the subcontinent. Within its own range the species suffers not only the predations of natural predators but also according to Khan and Kumar is unscrupulously killed in large numbers during its breeding season, which coincides with the sowing season for major crops in its range. Given this vulnerability, a captive breeding programme would be desirable.

Note (2022): more recently Brachysaura minor is considered by some authorities to be a synonym of Calotes minor: see Reptile Database entry for details.

Species Name

Common Name





B. minor

Night Agama, Hardwicke's Bloodsucker, Dwarf Rock Agama

Pakistan (Sind), NW & C India, poss. SE India

SVL 7 cm

Found in diverse habitats including rocky areas with scrubby vegetation, sand mixed rocky areas with stunted grass, thorn field and others. It does not excavate a burrow but uses disused holes of other lizards or rodents, or retreats under stones. Diet is mainly a range of arthropods, but seeds have also been reported. Scalation details: canthal and supraciliary edges sharp; 4-6 rows of elongated scales between orbit and supralabials; supra- and infralabials 10-15; dorsal head scales subequal, tubercular and obtusely keeled; dorsal scales much larger than ventrals, rhomboidal, imbricate, keeled, with keels converging obliquely towards vertebral line; nuchal and dorsal crests not continuous, reduced to mere serrated ridge; two small spines surrounded by still smaller spines on each side of back of head above tympanum; gular fold not well marked; gular scales larger than ventral scales, feebly keeled; 48-60 rows at midbody; 104-125 scales from posteriormost nuchal spine to tail tip; scales on limbs much smaller than dorsal scales; ventral scales feebly keeled, smaller than dorsals. Tail: round, shorter than body, caudal scales equal and strongly keeld. Other: head short and convex, appearing to be wider than the body; eye opening larger than ear opening; limbs and digits short. 5th digit shorter than 1st; maxillary teeth small and tricuspid. Coloration: dorsally pale brown with 3 rows of darker, light-edged spots on back, of which median row most distinct and formed of rhomboidal spots; limbs and tail with dark cross bars; eyeball yellow. Breeding females become crimson red with dusky olive to brown back. Reproduction: in another departure from the agamid norm, females assume display colours and make advances to males. 4-6 eggs are laid in burrows among the roots of vegetation. [SOURCE: Boulenger, Khan & Kumar].


“Notes on morphology, habits, ecology and distribution of short-tailed ground agama Brachysaura minor (Hardwicke and Gray 1827)”, Muhammed Sharif Khan and Manoj Kumar, Pakistan Journal of Wildlife vol 1(1), 31-35, 2010.


Muhammed Sharif Khan's picture of a specimen.