Armadillo Lizard Pet

The armadillo lizard is the ideal pet for anyone who has ever wished to claim they own a dragon.

This South African reptile has spiny coats of armor, a cool defense mechanism that also leaves them looking like something you might see stalking the skies of Game of Thrones. They are also known as the armadillo girdled lizard, Golden-armadillo lizard, and dragon armadillo lizard.

As a reptile pet, the lizard is unbeatable. It’s a very gregarious animal. These lizards’ natural behaviors include forming groups of four to six individuals in the wild. If you have one in your home, it’s strongly recommended that they live with others. Despite their supposedly amiable natures, these creatures are not fond of handling.

The armadillo lizard in captivity needs very little care. The pet armadillo lizards of many lizard enthusiasts are adored. But, since the lizard cannot be exported from its native nation, obtaining these animals is difficult.

The armadillo is the source of the name. The scaly, bony plates that cover the head, limbs, back, and tail of armadillos are known as armadillo in Spanish. Despite their scaly appearances, the mammal armadillo is not related to the armadillo lizard. The armadillo lizard, however, bites its tail and rolls up into a ball when it is threatened.

The armadillo lizard is unique beyond its appearance, and because of this, it has the potential to be a pet. Read on for a full review. You’ll be surprised by the variety of lizard species.

Armadillo Lizard Scientific Name

The desert ouroborus cataphractus may only be found on the western coast of South Africa.

The defensive stance of the lizard earned it its common name. The lizard similarly wraps itself into a ball to defend itself, much like the armadillo.

The dragon armadillo lizard is a daytime creature with rows of firmer spiky scales covering its body. The belly is the most sensitive region of their bodies. By biting its tail and balling up, the lizard protects it. Predators have only their hard exterior to feast on. Most predators prefer not to deal with the hard, scaly surface of the lizard as much as they want it as prey.

All About the Armadillo Lizard

South Africa is home to the armadillo lizard, Ouroborus cataphractus. You may also come up with some fun names for your pet reptile, such as the golden armadillo, armadillo Jones, or armadillo girdled.

Physical Characteristics of the Armadillo Lizard

Armadillo lizards grow to be about 4 to 6½ inches long when they reach adulthood. Their “armor” gives them the appearance of a lizard crossed with an armadillo, and is their most distinguishing feature. These scales are large and spiky, with a brownish-yellow belly that varies in color.

Armadillo Lizard Appearance & Behavior

The behavior, adaptations, and appearance of the armadillo lizard are all discussed here.


The armored skin of the armadillo girdled lizard is the most obvious identifying feature. Osteoderms make up the spiny armor. Bony plates are imbedded in the critter’s skin’s dermal layer. Alligators, crocs, and certain tortoises are among the reptile species that have osteoderms.

The body of the little animal is flat and tiny. The lizard can fit into narrow spaces thanks to this attribute. Dull, light to dark brown or yellow-brown hues are common. Yellow with black patterns, the underbelly is yellow. The scaled around the mouth is black, as well as the eyes.

The adult lizard grows just about four inches in length, according to resources. Males typically have a little longer stature than females. Males have broader heads and hemipenal bulges, which are two other differences that distinguish the sexes.

Armadillo Lizard Defensive Behavior

The name of the armadillo lizard is not just because of its scales. The lizards form a ring when they are scared, by grabbing onto their tails with their mouths and dragging themselves inside. Their scales, which protrude and extend in this position, protect their bodies.

When they’re in danger of being eaten by larger creatures or are stressed, the lizards employ this tactic. Since their tails are essential to generate their “Ouroboros-like” position, armadillo lizards are less prone to do so in stressful situations than many other lizards.

Typical Behavior

When it’s defensive, the Armadillo Lizard gets its name.

They wrap their tail around and compress into a ball (as shown above).

Most of the time, Armadillo Girdled Lizards lounge around in the sun or camouflage themselves behind rocks. Because of their robust construction and sluggish movement, they are difficult to move.

They can’t run from predators because of their heavily armored skin.

They are most commonly found in groups of four to six lizards in the wild. Others believe that congregating in groups might provide some protection against predators.

During the mating season, males may become territorial.

South Africa’s mating season runs for two months, beginning in September. They’ve been known to bite off toes and draw blood from their powerful jaws.

When males want to have sex, they pursue a lady until she agrees to mate with them. Females give birth to one live offspring, unlike reptiles that lay eggs. They very seldom produce two live children.

During the winter, they brumate. Several owners maintain temperatures in their tanks high enough to prevent brumation throughout the year.

Wild-Caught Armadillo Lizards

The word “sucks” appears in many different contexts throughout the novel. In captivity, breeding giganteus is notoriously difficult. The other Armadillo Lizards have been successfully bred by many keepers, but their clutches are small. Every year or two, female Armadillo Lizards give birth to one or two live offspring.

Armadillo Lizards are popular among pet owners. Exporters sell wild-caught Armadillo Lizards for a low price. It is possible to acquire carapaphractus illegally for higher costs). As a consequence, wild-caught animals make up the majority of Armadillo Lizards in the pet trade.

Parasites are common in wild-caught reptiles when they arrive at their new home. Bacterial or viral loads may wreak havoc on the remainder of your reptile collection, and they may have them. They could also perish as a result of improper care after being captured.

Native populations may be severely harmed by reptile exports. S. has expanded its habitat range since the 1970s. Around 65% of the giganteus population has vanished. One of the major factors behind this abrupt decline has been poaching for the pet trade.

quarantine the Armadillo Lizard you buy until you are sure it is healthy and parasite-free. To make sure it is healthy and to address any parasite infestations, you may want to take it to a veterinarian with exotic reptile expertise.

Before you buy, make sure that the Armadillo Lizard you intend to purchase was legally obtained. If you have an O, then you can use it. You are breaking the law by keeping caraphractus captive bred. You are endangering not just local lizard populations, but also the law!

Is An Armadillo Lizard A Good Pet?

The spiky armor of armadillo lizards makes them resemble a dragon, which is why they are such a popular pet.

The Cordylidae family includes this snake. Girdled lizards belong to this family. From South Africa comes the spiny-tailed.

The western districts of South Africa are home to armadillos.

From the Orange River to the Piketberg Mountains, and inland to Matjiesfontein in South Africa’s semi-desert region, their range stretches 400 miles.

In the wild, armadillos have strong spines that aid them in avoiding predators.

They have a peculiar appearance, which makes them resemble a dragon.

They wrap themselves into a ball and bite their tails when they spot a predator and feel they need to defend themselves. This action has been likened to a scared mammalian armadillo, according to researchers. As a result, they called the Armadillo Lizard.

In addition, these lizards have an unusual social life.

Armadillos, unlike many other independent lizards, prefer to live in groups. Even when there is enough room for each lizard to be housed individually, this occurs.

Herpetologists and researchers have been enthralled by this social behavior.

Proper habitat for an Armadillo Lizard

The rocky deserts and mountains of South Africa’s Northern and Western Cape Provinces are the natural habitat of the Armadillo Lizard. They dwell in arid, rocky places, scrublands, stony outcrops, and rock niches with dense vegetation that provide them with multiple hiding spots to evade predators and hibernate.

For single lizards, they should have a tank of 20-30 gallons, and if you’re housing more than two Armadillo Lizards together, the tank or enclosure should be bigger. Bigger tanks are typically better for reptiles since they like to roam around. These reptiles do not climb glass well when a lid is provided, but if your tank is tall enough, this may be avoided.

You’ll have plenty of climbing and hiding places with tank equipment like branches and rocks. Bark or reptile liners can be used as substrates, and they should be replaced every month. While Armadillo Lizards are adapted to sand in the wild, their tanks may unintentionally include this type of substrate.

In addition to assisting with hydration and temperature management, a tiny water dish containing dechlorinated water should be offered.

Daily food and water replacement should be supplemented with weekly tank cleaning and monthly disinfectant.

It’s important to have comparable tank configurations so that moving these animals from tank to tank is less difficult for them if there are aggression issues with the individuals you maintain in the same tank.

Armadillo Lizards in their Native Habitat

The spiky keeled scales of Armadillo Lizards protect them from predators like hedgehogs, providing them with shelter. Flat heads are also beneficial in allowing them to fit into their snug homes.

Armadillo Lizards thrive in rocky, arid, and semi-arid environments in Africa. Giant Girdled Lizards dig burrows in the sandy soil, which can be 3 feet deep and 6 feet long, because cracks in the rocks provide them with shelter.

Wild Armadillo Lizards have a plentiful food source in the form of termite mounds. Other insects, as well as spiders, scorpions, millipedes, and tiny vertebrates, will be devoured by them. Armadillo Lizards prefer crickets in captivity, and adults may even feast on pinky mice from time to time.

Armadillo Lizard groups range from thirty to sixty lizards and are also social reptiles. Over territory, males fight each other. You may keep a male with multiple females if you are sure your Armadillos have been properly sexed. During the day, armadillo lizards are most active.

Armadillo Lizard Predators & Threats

Humans, who capture the lizard for the black market, pose the greatest threat to them. Wildfire and climate change are two other dangers.

The animal’s conservation status is classified as “Lower Concern,” but the South African government believes it requires protection due to its black market value.

In their native land, having these reptiles as pets or exporting them is prohibited. To aid sick and injured armadillo lizards, the Cape Provincial Ordinance was established.

Armadillo Lizard Temperature Requirements

A decent temperature gradient and a basking area like a log or rock under a heat lamp at 115-130 degrees Fahrenheit are required for Armadillo Lizard tanks. The tank’s temperature should be between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, and 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

The temperature gradient can be achieved by placing heating pads beneath the tank. Armadillo Lizards will be happy if they can hide in both hot and cold sections of the tank.

To replicate their natural circadian rhythm, a full spectrum bulb with UVB should be provided as a source of vitamin D3 and turned on for 12 hours. Daily misting should keep the humidity in the tank between 45-55%.

Interaction and Sociability

Unlike most reptiles, armadillo lizards live in social groups and like to interact with one other, making them an fascinating pet. If you select the armadillo lizard as a pet, it is strongly advised that you maintain more than one together for the lizards’ sake.

Limit your population to only one male so that they don’t fight with each other if you decide to keep these lizards in groups of three or more. Armadillo lizards don’t like being handled, as much as they like each other’s company.

When you try to touch your armadillo lizard, don’t be surprised if it rolls into its natural defensive ball. For folks looking for a loving reptile buddy, armadillo lizards aren’t the greatest option.

Housing Your Armadillo Lizard

A 30-gallon tank is probably adequate if you are keeping your Armadillo Lizard alone. Moving two or three organisms to a 40- or 50-gallon tank is optimum for groups of two or three. Little Armadillo Lizards need some space to roam about.

Armadillo lizards find tight spaces in the wild. They feel safe from predators because the rock presses up against their backs. Provide them with rock skins that are an inch or less above the substrate. You can also provide them with some climbing branches and rocks.

Make sure the rocks you’re bringing in are sterile if you live close by. Wash them thoroughly with a wire-bristled brush using natural soap.

After that, place them in a hot oven (200 to 225 degrees) to destroy any germs or parasites. This will help to keep out any unwelcome stowaways from your new rock hides.

The more often you’ll see your Armadillos out and about, the more room they will have and the further they can go.

Health and Longevity

If their habitat is adequate and well-maintained, armadillo lizards are usually hardy and suffer few health problems. It may be tough to locate a physician who understands these creatures and has experience treating them since they are such an unusual lizard.

Before you adopt your new pet, always make arrangements with a veterinarian who can care for it. Armadillo lizards are long-term commitment pets, and they can live up to 25 years. When you’re deciding if an armadillo lizard is the right animal companion for you, this should be taken into consideration.

What Eats the Armadillo Lizard?

Because of the armored reptile’s shell, most predators on South African desert grounds flee. Birds of prey, such as eagles, falcons, and ospreys, are prominent predators.