Saturday 15 June
Armadillo girdled lizard (Cordylus cataphractus)
Armadillo girdled lizard fact file
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Armadillo girdled lizard description
This heavily armoured reptile is named after the armadillo for its ability to roll itself into an almost impregnable ball when threatened. In this position, the spiny scales covering the neck, body and tail are presented to any potential predator, protecting the soft belly (2). The stocky, flattened body of the armadillo girdled lizard is a dirty yellowish-brown to straw colour, with a yellow throat, blotched with dark brown (2) (4). It has a broad, triangular head with a dark brown upper lip. The tail, which is ringed with large spines, can be shed in periods of danger and regenerated, although slowly and poorly (2).
- Also known as
- Armadillo spiny-tailed lizard.
- Cordylus nebulosus.
- Cordyle D'Armadillo, Lézard À Queue Épineuse D'Armadillo. Top
- Active during the day.
- Karroid veld
- Used to describe vegetation types typical or reminiscent of the semi-desert Karoo region of South Africa; sparse vegetation dominated by dwarf, perennial shrublets.
- Snout-vent length
- A standard measurement of body length of reptiles. The measurement is from the tip of the nose (snout) to the anus (vent), and excludes the tail.
- IUCN Red List (April, 2007)
- Branch, B. (1998) Field Guide to Snakes and other Reptiles of Southern Africa. Ralph Curtis Books Publishing, Florida.
- CITES (April, 2007)
- SCARCE: Survey of Cederberg Amphibians and Reptiles for Conservation and Ecotourism (May, 2008)
- Els, J. (2008) Pers. comm.
- Mouton, P.F.N., Flemming, A.F. and Kanga, E.M. (1999) Grouping behaviour, tail-biting behaviour and sexual dimorphism in the armadillo lizard (Cordylus cataphractus) from South Africa. Journal of Zoology, 249(1): 1 - 10.
- Losos, J.B., Mouton, P.F.N., Bickel, R., Cornelius, I. and Ruddock, L. (2002) The effect of body armature on escape behaviour in cordylid lizards. Animal Behaviour, 64: 313 - 321.
- Mouton, P.F.N., Geertsema, H. and Visagie, L. (2000) Foraging mode of a group-living lizard, Cordylus cataphractus (Cordylidae). African Zoology, 35: 1 - 7.
- Flemming, A.F. and Moutin, P.F.N. (2002) Reproduction in a group-living lizard Cordylus cataphractus (Cordylidae), from South Africa. Journal of Herpetology, 36(4): 691 - 696.
- Costandius, E., Mouton, P.F.N. and Flemming, A.F. (2006) The effect of intergroup distance on group fidelity in the group-living lizard, Cordylus cataphractus. African Journal of Herpetology, 55(1): 61 - 68.
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Armadillo girdled lizard biology
Unusually for a lizard, the diurnal armadillo girdled lizard is a sociable reptile (2) (5), with between 1 and 30 individuals sharing a rock crevice for long periods. Normally these groups comprise an adult pair along with subadults and juveniles (6). When resting in a crack in a rock, the armadillo girdled lizard is well protected and its spiny scales make it virtually impossible for anything to remove it from its shelter (2). If out in the open, the armadillo rock lizard will retreat back to the rock at the first sign of danger (2), but it is a slow runner making it vulnerable to predation (7). However, this lizard does have another clever way of protecting itself. If caught by a predator or a human, it will curl up, grip its tail in its jaws and form a tight, armoured ball in the manner of an armadillo. In this position, the soft underparts are protected and the lizard is too spiky for many predators to eat (2), although this tactic does prove ineffective against birds of prey (5).
The armadillo girdled lizard feeds largely on insects, which are attracted to the abundant flowers of the region it inhabits (2). The most important prey is the southern harvester termite (Microhodotermes viator), but it is also known to feed on items such as millipedes, scorpions and plant material (8).
Mating in the armadillo girdled lizards takes place in spring (4), and each year females give birth to a single, large young at the end of April, at the end of the dry season before the winter rains commence in May (9) (10). These reptiles become sexually mature when they reach a snout-vent length of about 95 millimetres (9).Top
Armadillo girdled lizard rangeTop
Armadillo girdled lizard habitatTop
Armadillo girdled lizard statusTop
Armadillo girdled lizard threats
This heavily armoured lizard is threatened by illegal collection for the pet trade (2) (4). Unfortunately, it can be a fairly sluggish mover and so relatively easily caught when out in the open (6), and the fact that it lives in groups makes this attractive reptile particularly vulnerable (4).Top
Armadillo girdled lizard conservation
The armadillo girdled lizard is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning that any international trade in this species should be carefully monitored (3).Top
Authenticated (18/06/08) by Johannes Els, Cape Reptile Institute.
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