Black Girdled Lizard

Cordylus niger

Black Girdled Lizards occur only on Table Mountain, the Cape Peninsula and around Saldanha Bay, where they inhabit rocky outcrops in the fynbos and shelter in small cracks and crevices. When threatened they will use their prickly tail to cover the rest of their body and inflate themselves so that it should be very difficult to extract them from their hiding place. Black Girdled Lizards grow to between 7 and 9cm in length and are usually seen alone, except when mating. They are diurnal and do not hibernate, although they are much less active in cold weather. Black Girdled Lizards feed primarily on insects. This is an ovoviviparous species, meaning that the female keeps the fertilized eggs inside her body and then gives birth to live young when the eggs hatch inside her. One to three young are born during autumn and must be immediately self-sufficient, as there is no parental care.

The IUCN classifies the Black Girdled Lizard as “Near Threatened” due to their extremely limited distribution and threats from development and the pet trade, despite an apparently numerous population.

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20 thoughts on “Black Girdled Lizard

  1. Joanne Sisco

    What a specialized little lizard to exist only in such a small area! Humans (like me) tend to think of species like lizards as relatively homogeneous, so posts like this always come as a bit of a surprise.
    The biggest surprise however was that it gives birth to live offspring. I thought all cold-blooded animals laid eggs that hatched outside the mother. I learn something new every day!

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      That’s exactly what makes it so interesting and addictive to be out in nature – we never know what we’re going to find or learn next! What at first glance looked like just another dark lizard turned out to be something very special. Now I only wish that I had spent even more time chasing it around the garden of Eland Cottage at the Cape of Good Hope (with my camera of course!).

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