Armadillo girdled lizard

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Armadillo Jalen lizard
Armadillo girdle-tailed lizard.jpg
Cordylus cataphractus
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Sauria
Family: Cordylidae
Genus: Cordylus
Species: C. cataphractus
Binomial name
Cordylus cataphractus
(F. Boie, 1828)
  • Cordylus cataphractus F. Boie, 1828
  • Zonurus cataphractus Gray, 1831
  • Cordylus nebulosus A. Smith, 1838
  • Zonurus cataphractus
    A.M.C. Duméril & Bibron, 1839
  • Cordylus cataphractus
    — van den Elzen, 1982
  • Ouroborus cataphractus
    E. Stanley et al., 2011[2]
  • Ouroborus cataphractus
    F. Boie et al., 1828

The armadillo girdled lizard, Cordylus cataphractus,[2] is a lizard endemic to desert areas of southern Africa.

Common names[edit]

It is also commonly known as typical girdled lizard, armadillo lizard, golden armadillo lizard, and armadillo spiny-tailed lizard

Geographic range[edit]

C. cataphractus is found along the western coast of the Republic of South Africa.[3]


The armadillo girdled lizard can be a light brown to dark brown in coloration. The underbelly is yellow with a blackish pattern, especially under the chin. Its usual size ranges from 7.5 to 9 cm (3 to 3.5 in) in snout-vent length (SVL). It may grow to a maximum size of 10.5 cm (4.1 in) SVL.[3] As adults, they have such a strong bite force, that they can break their jaws.[citation needed]

In captivity[edit]

This lizard is relatively common in the pet trade. It can be found in pet stores and it is quite easy to breed in captivity. Wild populations are threatened by collecting for sale in the pet trade.[3][4] It can live up to 25 years in captivity, or slightly longer in rarer cases.[citation needed]


It is diurnal. It hides in rock cracks and crevices. It lives in social groups of up to 30[3] to 60, but usually fewer.[4] Males are territorial, protecting a territory and mating with the females living there.[4]


The female gives birth to one[3] or two[4] live young; the species is one of the few lizards that does not lay eggs. The female may even feed her young, which is also unusual for a lizard.


The armadillo girdled lizard feeds mainly on small invertebrates, such as insects and spiders. In captivity, they are commonly fed crickets. In the wild, its most common prey items are the termites. It has also been know to eat smaller lizards and rodents. Microhodotermes viator[3] and Hodotermes mossambicus.[4]

Defensive behavior[edit]

The armadillo girdled lizard possesses an uncommon antipredator adaptation, in which it takes its tail in its mouth and rolls into a ball when frightened. In this shape, it is protected from predators by the thick, squarish scales along its back and the spines on its tail.[3] This behavior, which resembles that of the mammalian armadillo, gives it its English common name.[3]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ World Conservation Monitoring Centre (1996). "Cordylus cataphractus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b The Reptile Database.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Arkive
  4. ^ a b c d e Animal Diversity Web

Further reading[edit]

  • Boie F. 1828. Über eine noch nichte beschriebene Art von Cordylus Gronov. Cordylus cataphractus Boie. Nova Acta Academiae Caesareae Leopoldino-Carolinae (Halle) 14 (1): 139-142.
  • Boulenger GA. 1885. Catalogue of the Lizards in the British Museum (Natural History). Second Edition. Volume III. Iguanidæ, Xenosauridæ, Zonuridæ... London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers.) xiii + 497 pp. + Plates I.- XXIV. (Zonurus cataphractus, pp. 255-256.)
  • Branch, Bill. 2004. Field Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa: Fully Revised and Updated to Include 83 New Species. Third Revised edition, Second impression. Sanibel Island, Florida: Ralph Curtis Books. 399 pp. ISBN 0-88359-042-5. (Cordylus cataphractus, pp. 186-187 + Plate 68.)
  • Stanley EL, Bauer AM, Jackman TR, Branch WR, Mouton PLN. 2011. Between a rock and a hard polytomy: Rapid radiation in the rupicolous girdled lizards (Squamata: Cordylidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 58: 53-70. ("Ouroborus gen. nov.", p. 65.)