Meet The Armadillo Lizard: Planet Earth’s Real-Life Mini-Dragon

Meet The Armadillo Lizard: Planet Earth’s Real-Life Mini-Dragon

Meet The Armadillo Lizard: A Mini-Dragon That Curls Up Like An Armadillo

The armadillo lizard (left) gets its name from the way it curls up into a ball as a defense mechanism, as armadillos do (right).

The armadillo lizard could both be one of the cutest and one of its most excentric reptiles with its thorniest exterior and distinctive defenses. These lizards have strong armor-like characteristics and are known to curl up when they feel threatened just as armadillos are.

But not the only intriguing feature of the lizard armadillo is this remarkable built-in armor. Armadillo Lizards live among the rock gaps in the South African wilderness in big family organizations to protect themselves against the harsh elements and predators in the area.

They enjoy sunbathing and are among the few reptiles that do not reproduce by laying eggs. They are very fond of sunbathing. Moreover, these insect-eaters require little to survive, are comparatively simple to capture and look like small dragons, which is probably because many are even kept as pets— and therefore are at risk for illegal trafficking, which now threatens this unique creature.

The Strangely Docile Armadillo Lizard

The armadillo lizard (left) gets its name from the way it curls up into a ball as a defense mechanism, as armadillos do (right).

Between the rocky mountains of South Africa’s Succulent Karoo area, you can find the armadillo girdled lizard or Ouroborus cataphractus. Those sharp-looking lizard may seem hazardous also called the Golden Armadillo lizard, however, they move slowly and attempt to get away when approached by other animals.

Armadillo lizards are colored in various ways, ranging from brown to bright yellowish-brown. The lizard is simple to identify as its body is covered with sharp stiff spines from head to tail; the bottom is the only section of its body not covered with thorny skin.

Therefore, when these lizards go in defense mode, they roll-up. An armadillo lizard curls into a ball when threatened until her mouth mits the tail.

When the other parts of the body are in this curled-up position, they function as a protective layer in their smooth, exposed abdomen. They can remain for up to one hour in this position. The distinctive defense of the armadillo lizard protects it against predators such as snakes, large birds, and mongoose.

For both males and females, these dragon-like animals can grow up to around four inches in length and live up to a little over a century.

Their diet included small insects and invertebrates but their main source of food was termites — a similarity with the armadillos — especially Microhodotermes Viator and Hodotermes mossambicus.

Thermite mounds can often be found outside the homes of the lizard and armadillous lizard sometimes need to move up to 60 feet, a long way to travel for an animal of its size.

Their tendency to eat termites makes these lizards dependent on the well-being of the termite population they feed on. This makes the Armadillo lizard susceptible to environmental modifications that affect termites, such as changing rain patterns or invasive plants that are detrimental to the environment.

Ouroborus Cataphractus: A Jealous Lover

The males are naturally territorial to each other, In the mating season, they become even better protected against their turf and their female partner in order to keep other male competitors away.

As they are among the few Lizard species that don’t egg lay, one or two descendants of armadillo lizards a year is born. It requires 6 to 8 months for the gestation period. It is sometimes a year between the birth and feeding of ouroborus cataphractus mothers, which is an unusual trait in most reptiles, that they take.

An illustration of an armadillo lizard.

The Armadillo Lizard has another uncommon behavior: its extraordinary living preferences. Armadillo lizard is a social creature and is made up of cooperative communities of up to 60 lizards at a moment, which shares rock crevices in their natural habitat. In reality, an armadillo lizard alone in the wild is very uncommon.

Researchers discovered that Individuals do not necessarily remain in one group. There is a considerable level of acceleration between communities, both by a male, female and young alike.

The fact that predators tend to keep away from hunting prey in large communities offers additional protection in large communities. These large families, however, also imply more mouths for feeding.

A research of these reptiles and their main prey choice (termites) shows that armadillo lice in big groups will consume reduced termite during winter when there are generally plenty of insect populations. Scientists think that this conduct should decrease food competition among group members.

Fighting Illegal Trading Of The Armadillo Girdled Lizard

Ouroborus cataphractus can stay in a curled position for up to an hour.

The Armadillo Lizard has distinctive skills to survival in the wild, an intriguing creature. Sadly, human beings are the greatest danger to their population.

The girdled armadillo lizard may look intimidating, but these creatures are mild-tempered and not really dangerous. Their slow movement and their inclination to stay in large groups make it an easy objective for collectors.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categorized Ouroborus cataphractus as a fragile population until the early 1990s. Since then, the status of the Armadillo lizard has decreased to the lowest level.

Wildlife conservation organizations such as the IUCN that have monitored changes in the Armadillo lizard population have seen a certain amount of collection decline in the pet trade, which in past years had an enormous effect on the general population. However, Ouroborus cataphractus remains under threat, despite the illegal trade in these species.

An armadillo lizard’s backside is completely covered in spikey armor.

According to IOL, an illegal ownership and transport ring of 48 armadillo lizards was bundled by the Capetown publication. The offenders have been convicted to 1 million South African Rand (70,000 dollars) or 13 years in prison.

A local police network, including Biodiversity Crime Unit and various municipal police offices of the Stock Theft and the Species Dangered Unit, has brought traffickers down. Their activities are part of the CapeNature Conservation Service Unit.

Improving this legislation was not simple and many individuals can still discover the girdled lizard in armadillo at the large pet convention and even in some pet shops. That is exactly what needs to be stopped if this unique creature is to have the planet Earth’s good future.

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