A semi-arboreal species (3), Gilbert’s dragon often perches on the trunks and branches of trees as it watches for prey. This lizard is active during the day, and mainly detects its prey using its acute vision, although it is also likely to use sound. Gilbert’s dragon feeds on a variety of insects and other invertebrates, and once a potential prey item is spotted the dragon will typically dash from its perch at great speed to capture it with a dab of its short, sticky tongue (3) (5) (6).
Like related agamid lizards, Gilbert’s dragon is capable of sprinting extremely quickly over short distances, and may even rise up to run on its hind limbs (3) (6). This species is also fast and agile in the trees, and is a capable swimmer that has been known to dive to the bottom to escape capture. Even when active, Gilbert’s dragon appears to prefer to stay in the shade rather than full sunlight (5).
The function of the forefoot-waving display that characterises this lizard is not fully understood, but may potentially serve to distract predators or be used to communicate with other individuals. In addition to waving its feet, Gilbert’s dragon also commonly bobs its head after each short sprint. Other body postures are used in defensive and aggressive displays, such as arching the back and elevating the chest, while courting males bob the head, press the body up and down and twitch the tail. Male Gilbert’s dragons defend a small area against other males, but both males and females change their daily area of activity each day (5).
Although Gilbert’s dragon is an abundant, readily seen species, many aspects of its biology are not well known (5). This species is thought to breed between about September and February (5), and like other species in the Agamidae family it is likely to lay its eggs in a burrow excavated in an open area (3) (6). As in related species, the gender of Gilbert’s dragon hatchlings is likely to be determined by the temperature at which its eggs were incubated, with high and low temperatures typically producing females while those in between produce varying proportions of males (6).