Armadillo Girdled Lizard - The Strangest Animal In The World
With its thorny exterior and unique defenses, the armadillo lizard might be both one of nature’s cutest and one of its most eccentric reptiles. Just as its animal namesake implies, these lizards have sharp armor-like features along their bodies and are known to curl up when they feel threatened just like armadillos.
But this impressive built-in armor is not the only fascinating characteristic of the armadillo lizard.
Armadillo Girdled Lizard: Identification
This heavily-armoured, stocky lizard varies in colour from greyish brown to light yellowish brown. The underside is smooth and yellow with some dark brown markings. There are several rows of sharp heavy spines covering the back of the tail, which is not easily discarded as in many other lizards.
The males and females are very similar and can reach an average total length of about 150-200 mm. This species has characteristic defence behaviour: when they are in danger and cannot reach a crevice or rock crack to hide in, they will roll into a ball and bite their tail, protecting their softer underside. They can stay in this position for up to an hour, according to Capenature.co.za.
Armadillo Girdled Lizard: Habits and Lifestyle
Armadillo girdled lizards are diurnal and during the night they find their shelter in rock cracks and crevices. They live in social groups of up to 30 to 60 individuals of all ages, but usually fewer. Males are territorial, protecting territory and mating with the females living there. Armadillo girdled lizards possess an uncommon antipredator adaptation, in which they take their tail in their mouth and roll into a ball when frightened.
In this shape, they are protected from predators by the thick, squarish scales along their back and the spines on their tail. This behavior, which resembles that of the mammalian armadillo, gives these lizards their English common names. In order to communicate with each other, these lizards use tail wagging, head bobbing and tongue-flicking. For example, tongue-flicking is a warning sign for intruders to leave, Animalia.bio added.
Armadillo Girdled Lizard: Food
Ouroborus cataphractus are carnivores, and primarily insectivores, with their main diet consisting of termites (Hodotermes mossambicus). The lizards are active when food is abundant and are inactive when food is scarce during the dry summer months. Other prey includes beetles and millipedes, and they sometimes feed on scorpions and plant material, Sanbi.org expressed.
Armadillo Girdled Lizard: Mating season and Life cycles
These lizards are polygynandrous, which means both males and females have multiple partners during mating season (September to October).
The gestation period is around six to eight months. Ouroborus cataphractus is ovoviviparous (eggs hatch inside the mother) and can give birth to one or two live young, which are smaller versions of the adults. The mother may sometimes feed their young, which is not usually seen in lizards.
The lizards are sexual dimorphic with the males being larger. The males are very territorial and especially protective of their female partner.
Threats to Armadillo Girdled Lizard
In terms of animal predators, birds of prey are a prominent threat to armadillo lizards. Some examples include ospreys, eagles and falcons.
|Human beings are also a threat to these diurnal reptiles. Armadillo lizards are occasionally unlawfully trapped for the pet trade. Since these lizards tend to move slowly, it is often quite easy for people to catch them. Armadillo lizards also are rather conspicuous, since they spend most of their time in groups. It is not too common to spot an armadillo lizard going solo.|
Crevices in Rocks
Armadillo lizards spend much of their time tucked away within crevices of rocks, usually with other members of their group. These lizards typically are extremely prudent and cautious, and at even the slightest hint of a threat they usually head immediately to the crevices to hide.
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