Armadillo Girdled Lizard


Do you know an armadillo girdled lizard, a dragon-like lizard with spiny scales?
Sometimes it gets talked about on animal shows and SNS, so some people may know the name.
I don’t know if it’s an armadillo or a lizard, they have a very mysterious name, and they have a lot of interesting features that other lizards do not have.
Let’s find out together what features and secrets the armadillo girdled lizard has in this article!



~ Basic information. ~



Armadillo girdled lizards are a species of girdled lizard that lives in South Africa.

They have yellowish-brown to light brown body color and are covered with large spiky scales all over their body. They have a characteristic of curling up by biting the tip of their tail when they feel danger.

By curling up, they prevent other animals from swallowing them by exposing their spikes outward and hiding their soft belly, which is their weak point.

Armadillo girdled lizards are diurnal animals and live in groups of around 10 in deserts and wastelands, which is unusual for lizards.

Although much is still unknown about their ecology and reproduction, it is known that they do not lay eggs directly but raise them until they hatch in their stomachs and give birth to the hatched children in their stomachs.

Armadillo girdled lizards give birth to one or two babies at a time.



Armadillo girdled lizard’s Q&A

Where does the armadillo girdled lizard get its name?

Armadillo lizard basically escapes to the rocky area when attacked by enemies, but when there is no escape route, it has a habit of curling up with its tail in its mouth to protect itself. The name “armadillo girdled lizard” was given because its appearance is similar to that of a mammal armadillo.

Also the scientific name is expressed as “ouroborus cataphractus”. The scientific name “ouroborus” is one of the ancient symbols, representing a snake or dragon that is circular with its own tail tucked together. Apparently, the figure of the armadillo lizard holding its own tail was reminiscent of the ouroboros, hence the scientific name.


Why do armadillo girdled lizards live there?

Armadillo girdled lizards are endemic to South Africa and inhabit desert areas and rocky wastelands in the western part of South Africa and southern Namibia.

It is not clear why armadillo girdled lizards are found only in South Africa. However, it is thought that one reason may be that they lived in a place where they could obtain enough food to survive.

Armadillo girdled lizards live in dry desert areas, but they often hide under rocks or objects, so they are not particularly resistant to dryness or high temperatures.


What do armadillo girdled lizards eat?

Armadillo girdled lizards are carnivorous animals and live by eating insects.

In captivity, they are often fed insects such as crickets, dubia (feed cockroaches), and mealworms.


What kind of character does an armadillo girdled lizard have?

Armadillo girdled lizards are covered with spiky scales all over their bodies and have a very cool appearance like a dragon. However, they are often eaten by other animals in the wild, so they have a gentle personality and tend to be cowardly.

Therefore, they often hide under rocks or objects in the wild or in captivity, and are rarely seen in zoos.

Is it true that armadillo girdled lizards have suddenly become more popular in Japan?

It’s true.

Originally, armadillo girdled lizards were famous among reptile lovers, but in Japan they were generally less well-known.

However, it was exhibited and advertised on a large scale at the exhibition “Strange Living Creature Exhibition 3” held by the Sunshine Aquarium in Tokyo in 2019, and was introduced in the popular book “Zannen Na IKimono Encyclopedia”, and it became well known all at once.

Furthermore, in 2020, a figure that can reproduce a curled armadillo girdled lizard appeared in a gacha gacha, and it became a hot topic on SNS. This gacha gacha was so popular that it was in short supply, and it was difficult to get it.


Do armadillo girdled lizards have thorns on their bodies from birth?

The characteristic of armadillo girdled lizards is their spiky scales, but are armadillo girdled lizards spiky from birth?

In fact, the scales of newborn armadillo girdled lizards are also spiky, but the spikes of baby lizards are very soft.

The scales of baby lizards gradually harden over time after they are born, so the mother lizard is not injured by the spikes of baby lizards when giving birth.

Can armadillo girdled lizards be kept as pets?

When breeding rare animals at home, it is necessary to follow the established laws in some countries. This time, we will introduce whether armadillo girdled lizards can be bred at home in Japan.

In Japan, it is possible to keep armadillo girdled lizards as pets. However, since trade is regulated by the Washington Convention due to the risk of extinction, it is very difficult to obtain them.

Due to regulations, it is difficult to import wild individuals of armadillo girdled lizards, and since they only give birth to 1-2 children per breeding and it is difficult to increase their numbers, you can hardly see them in general pet shops or even reptile specialty shops.

Despite their popularity, they are difficult to obtain and are valued at a minimum of 300,000 yen per head due to their rarity.


Are there places to see armadillo girdled lizards in Japan?

Armadillo girdled lizards are currently being kept in several zoos and aquariums, such as the Maruyama Zoo in Sapporo City, Hokkaido and the Saitama Children’s Zoo in Saitama Prefecture.

Armadillo girdled lizards are popular as pets and are often poached or smuggled, and live animals are sometimes illegally brought into Japan. It is difficult to return animals that have been illegally brought in to their native habitats, so there are many cases where zoos and aquariums take them in for breeding.

In fact, armadillo girdled lizards that had nowhere to go were seized by customs as a violation of the Washington Convention and were taken in by the Maruyama Zoo in 2007 and the Kochi Prefectural Noichi Animal Park in 2009.

What is the lifespan of an armadillo girdled lizard?

The lifespan of armadillo girdled lizards is believed to be about 15 years both in the wild and in captivity.

Armadillo girdled lizards are reptiles and are ectothermic animals that cannot maintain their own body temperature. Therefore, it is necessary to pay attention to temperature and humidity, but the degree of difficulty in breeding itself is said to be surprisingly low.


What enemies does an armadillo girdled lizard have?

Armadillo girdled lizards in the wild have many natural enemies, but they are especially often preyed on by birds.

But for armadillo girdled lizards, the biggest enemy is us humans.

Armadillo girdled lizards are classified as “LC (Least Concern)” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List and are classified as “Appendix II” on the Washington Convention, which means that they are not necessarily at risk of extinction but there is a risk of extinction if trade is not regulated.

However, despite the fact that they are internationally regulated and poaching is not uncommon due to their wonderful appearance and popularity as pets, in 2017 one person and in 2019 two Japanese people were arrested for attempting to illegally export armadillo girdled lizards.

Armadillo girdled lizards have a very cool appearance, so it’s easy to understand why people want to keep them as pets.

However, is it really necessary to keep them as pets by depriving them of the chance to breed by confining them in small cages when they originally live on vast land without even a cage and live in groups of nearly 10?

When keeping animals that are endangered, not just armadillo girdled lizards, it is important to stop and think whether you really should keep that animal as a pet.






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