Armadillo lizards have recently taken the internet by storm due to their tiny size and spiky nature! They make for great photos and are truly fascinating to look at. They get their name from their rugged-looking exterior, which makes their appearance comparable to that of an Armadillo, though they are not actually as hardy as their similarly-spiky friends. Due to their size, they are actually more of a hider than a fighter, despite their relatively scary close-up appearance.
They are rather unknown in the West and have only recently come to our attention thanks to the cute images of them curled up in the palms of our hands. Since they are so new, we thought it might be good to pull together some interesting facts that you should know about Armadillo lizards. Have a read and learn everything you need to know about these cute little creatures.
1. It’s One Of The Smallest Lizards
Though they are definitely not the smallest lizards on the planet – check out the Nano-Chameleon – this species truly are tiny. Don’t let those images of the rugged shell-like exterior fool you, as these guys and gals are coming in under the 4-inch mark. In fact, 4 inches is considered a large size for an Armadillo Lizard, with females averaging around three inches and males roughly three-and-a-half inches. Of that, usually half is the tail, meaning their bodies are usually under 1.5 inches. So tiny, so cute!
2. They Breed With Multiple Partners
Who knew lizards could have so much fun?! These Armadillo lizards live in large social groups of between 30-60 adult lizards at any one time. Within these large groups, male Armadillo lizards are territorial, which means they tend to stick to one home, one patch of land, and try to protect that area. Females, on the other hand, are not territorial. They move from area to area, sometimes between social groups, and can mate with multiple males each time. They will usually return to their original group before having their offspring. The mating season occurs in late winter or early spring, with baby lizards emerging in April.
3. Their Eggs Develop Inside The Body
Most lizards are viviparous. This means that, while fertilization occurs inside the body, eggs are laid outside the body prior to hatching. They are then cared for and protected until they hatch. Armadillo lizards are not viviparous but are instead ovoviviparous. This is rare amongst reptiles but not entirely uncommon. Ovoviviparous animals still develop eggs but they are then stored internally while the young develop and hatch. They do not have umbilical cords like us, instead, the infant lizard mostly feeds on the yolk sac within the egg until it is strong enough to enter the world. It is for this reason that most female Armadillo lizards only carry 1-2 babies at a time.
4. They Are Natives of South-West Africa
These lizards, though seemingly popular worldwide on the internet, are actually a species native to the west coasts of South Africa. Their natural habitat is this desert-like, rocky area, where there are plenty of rocks, hills, and mountains to climb and sun themselves on. These kinds of terrains are perfect for these small creatures as they allow the lizards to retreat quickly into hiding when a predator is nearby. They should not be found in pet stores outside of South Africa due to their previously protected status. They have now been downgraded to status “of least concern,” but it remains illegal to collect them in the wild. This has helped their numbers steadily increase over time.
5. They Love Termites (And Spiders!)
Termites and spiders are things we humans could certainly do without! Not many of us enjoy the presence of a spider on a normal afternoon. But, Armadillo lizards love both! They will feast on termites most of the time but can also eat other invertebrates like spiders and small crickets. During the dry season, they become quite inactive due to the lack of insect food sources. They tend to lose a lot of weight during this season but regain it quickly as soon as wetter weather – and therefore more food – comes along.
So, if you didn’t already know about Armadillo lizards, now you do! These cute little lizards used to be slightly endangered, partly due to our immense interest in them. Luckily, the laws in place have helped them recover and flourish in the wild once more. Let’s hope it remains that way for many years to come.