Looking like a miniature version of the dragons in “Game of Thrones,” these armadillo lizards are quite the unique little design of nature. Similar to their name, they come with an outer layering that is armored like an armadillo. Just like the armadillo, whenever these lizards are under threat, they curl up into a ball to be protected by their built-in armor. These little armored lizards like to hang out in the crevices and nooks of rocks.
They are also natives of South Africa and have adapted many ways of shielding themselves from the area’s harsh climate and predators. As a result, they’ve become quite adept at hiding. These unique little animals are lovers of sunbathing like many other reptiles, but unlike most reptiles, armadillo lizards don’t lay eggs.
These guys also survive on a diet of termites, small insects, and invertebrates, but don’t need a whole lot of food to survive. Because they have an undeniable resemblance to miniature dragons, their numbers have come under threat because of illegal poaching as people want to keep them as pets.
The scientific name for these lizards is Ouroborus cataphractus. They are normally found in South Africa’s rocky Succulent Karoo region. Armadillo lizards are also called the golden armadillo lizard. While they may look fearsome on the outside, they’re actually quite slow and docile and when confronted with danger and would rather run away than fight. These lizards range in color, from brown to light brown, and their entire bodies are covered in sharp spikes.
The only part of these lizards not covered in spindles is their underbelly, which is quite soft. So, when they are threatened and have to curl up, their armored bodies help to protect them. They can remain in a ball for up to an hour. This unique defense mechanism means that they’re kept safe from other predators such as snakes and mongoose. They only grow to be as large as four inches in length but have a lifespan of around 10 years.
Usually, the termite mounds that supply their food are located far from where the armadillo lizards live, which means that they have to travel around 60ft to find a meal – a pretty big distance for them given their small size. By nature, the males are quite territorial, but when it is mating season, they become even more territorial as they’re fighting for a female. Normally, these reptiles will give birth to one or two young each year, with their gestation period being between six to eight months long.
Occasionally, in very rare cases, a female may even take a year in between pregnancy in order to care for her young – something that is quite extraordinary amongst reptiles.
Check out some more pictures below of these fascinating creatures:
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.