Armadillo girdled lizard

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Armadillo girdled lizard
Armadillo girdle-tailed lizard.jpg
Armadillo girdled lizards in Wuppertal Zoo
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Cordylidae
Genus: Ouroborus
Species: O. cataphractus
Binomial name
Ouroborus cataphractus
(F. Boie, 1828)

The armadillo girdled lizard (Ouroborus cataphractus),[2] also known as the armadillo lizard, golden armadillo lizard or armadillo spiny-tailed lizard, is a girdled lizard endemic to desert areas along the western coast of South Africa.[3] In 2011, it was moved to its own genus based on molecular phylogeny, but formerly it was included in Cordylus.[2][4]


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 size can range from 7.5 to 9 cm (3.0 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]

In captivity[edit]

This lizard used to be common in the pet trade, but no longer. Wild populations are considered threatened and it is no longer legal to collect them for sale in the pet trade.[3][5] They are very rare in the pet trade, and are very expensive when available at all. 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 individuals of all ages, but usually fewer.[5] Males are territorial, protecting a territory and mating with the females living there.[5]


The female gives birth to one[3] or two[5] 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. Females give birth once a year at most; some take a year off between births.


The armadillo girdled lizard feeds mainly on small invertebrates, such as insects and spiders, but sometimes also take plant material.[3][5] In captivity, they are commonly fed crickets. In the wild, its most common prey items are termites, especially Microhodotermes viator[3] Hodotermes mossambicus.[5] It has also been known to eat smaller lizards and rodents.[citation needed]

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]


  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 c The Reptile Database.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Arkive
  4. ^ Stanley, E.L.; Bauer, A.M.; Jackman, T.R.; Branch, W.R.; and Moutone, P.F.N. (2011). Between a rock and a hard polytomy: Rapid radiation in the rupicolous girdled lizards (Squamata: Cordylidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 58(1): 53–70.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Animal Diversity Web

External links[edit]

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.)