Highly conspicuous during the day, this diurnal lizard can be seen basking on rocky outcrops, soaking up the sunlight to heat its body (5) (6). Hampered by the weight of the body armour, the Karoo girdled lizard moves slowly, making it vulnerable to predation and, as a result, individuals never stray far from the protection of a rocky crevice (5). If a predator is sighted, it will retreat into a defensive cavity, and the spiny tail will curl around the body, presenting an impregnable defensive barricade to the predator. The Karoo girdled lizard is a sit-and-wait predator, lingering close to its crevice, waiting for beetles and grasshoppers to pass, before making short bursts to catch its prey. However, juveniles are more active foragers, and will travel further in search of food (3).
Unusually for a lizard, the Karoo girdled lizard is gregarious, and small groups will occupy the same rocky outcrop. Individuals may hibernate during the winter in a tunnel dug in the soil beneath a boulder, before the breeding season commences in late spring (3). The Karoo girdled lizard is ovoviviparous, meaning fertilised eggs are retained inside the female’s body, and the female gives birth to between one and five live young in late summer (7).