Armadillo girdled lizard
|Armadillo girdled lizard|
|Armadillo girdled lizards in Wuppertal Zoo|
(F. Boie, 1828)
The armadillo girdled lizard (Ouroborus cataphractus), 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. In 2011, it was moved to its own genus based on molecular phylogeny, but formerly it was included in Cordylus.
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.
Distribution and habitat
The species is endemic to the Succulent Karoo biome in the Northern and the Western Cape provinces of South Africa, where it occurs from the southern Richtersveld to the Piketberg Mountains and the southern Tankwa Karoo. It inhabits rock outcrops and mountain slopes, preferrably on sandstone substrate.
The armadillo girdled lizard feeds mainly on small invertebrates, such as insects and spiders, but sometimes also take plant material. In captivity, they are commonly fed crickets. In the wild, its most common prey items are termites, especially Microhodotermes viator Hodotermes mossambicus.
The armadillo girdled lizard is diurnal. It hides in rock cracks and crevices. It lives in social groups of up to 30 to 60 individuals of all ages, but usually fewer. Males are territorial, protecting a territory and mating with the females living there.
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. This behavior, which resembles that of the mammalian armadillo, gives it its English common name.
The female gives birth to one or two 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 species was classified by the IUCN as Vulnerable until 1996, but has since been downgraded to Least Concern. This is mostly due to a general cessation of collection for the pet trade, which was a significant drain on populations but is now illegal. The armadillo girdled lizard is thought to be somewhat susceptible to fluctuations in its primary foodsource (termites), which in turn can be impacted by climatic events such as changes in rainfall patterns, as well as to habitat changes through invasive alien plant species and poor fire management.
- Mouton, P.L.F.N. (2017). "Ouroborus cataphractus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2017: e.T5333A110316112. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
- The Reptile Database. www.reptile-database.org.
- 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.
- Animal Diversity Web
- 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.)