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African Plated Lizard

Scientific Name Gerrhosaurus major

Native To Southern and eastern Africa

Habitat Rocky desert and semi-arid steppe

Diet Omnivore: crickets, grasshoppers, millipedes, caterpillars, soft fruits, flowers and smaller lizards

Size and Age 45 to 70 cm (18-28 in) long; lifespan up to 15 years in the wild (25 years under human care)

Natural History

African Plated lizards, also known as Sudan plated lizards, are highly fortified animals with tough, naturally occurring amour that keeps them safe from most predators. Living in dry, rocky terrain, they spend their day foraging for food and basking in the sun. If they happen to spot a predator, they will run to the nearest grouping of rocks and wedge themselves into a crevice of some sort. Once lodged in place, the predator is unable to pry them from their hold, as their tough scales are hard to penetrate while reaching into roughly textured rocks.


Conservation Status

African plated lizards are vulnerable to the pet trade and habitat destruction.

Interesting Facts

  • They are the most heavily plated lizard in their family, with thick armour-like scales covering their body, and head plates fused to their skull.
  • They are a diurnal reptile (active during the day) and bask in the sun often.
  • Plated lizards have a fold running down their body without scales; if they eat a lot, their bodies can expand despite being so heavily armoured.