Are Armadillo Lizards Legal to Own?

Welcome to our article on armadillo lizards! These unique reptiles, with their spiny coats of armor, have captured the fascination of many. But before we delve into the world of armadillo lizards as pets, let’s address an important question: are they legal to own?

Armadillo lizards, named after their resemblance to armadillos, are native to South Africa. However, it is now illegal to export them from their natural habitat. This means that acquiring armadillo lizards as pets can be challenging due to their protected status.

But fear not! In this article, we will explore the appeal of armadillo lizards as pets, their characteristics and behavior, care requirements, and more. We’ll provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision about owning these fascinating reptiles.

Key Takeaways:

  • Armadillo lizards are illegal to export from South Africa, making them difficult to acquire as pets.
  • They have a unique appearance with spiny armor, resembling dragons.
  • Armadillo lizards are sociable creatures that prefer to live in groups.
  • They require a suitable habitat, proper diet, and regular veterinary care for their well-being.
  • Despite the challenges, if you can find a captive-bred armadillo lizard from a reputable source, they can make great pets.

The Appeal of Armadillo Lizards as Pets

Armadillo lizards have gained popularity as pets among reptile enthusiasts due to their unique dragon-like appearance and easy care requirements. These fascinating creatures, belonging to the Cordylidae family, are native to the western districts of South Africa. Their distinctive spiky armor sets them apart from other reptiles, making them a captivating choice for individuals looking for a pet with a truly unique appearance.

Despite their popularity, it is important to note that acquiring armadillo lizards as pets can be challenging. This is primarily due to their current illegal export status from South Africa. However, if you are able to find a captive-bred armadillo lizard from a reputable source, they can make wonderful pets with proper care and attention.

Armadillo lizards require a suitable habitat that mimics their natural environment. This includes a tank with flat rocks for basking and hiding spots. Providing them with a varied diet consisting of termites and crickets, which should be gut-loaded and dusted with calcium, is essential for their overall health and well-being.

While armadillo lizards may not be easily accessible as pets, their captivating appearance and ease of care make them a popular choice for reptile enthusiasts. However, it is crucial to ensure their legal status and consider the challenges associated with owning them. By providing a suitable habitat, proper diet, and regular veterinary care, you can create a fulfilling and enriching environment for your armadillo lizard.

Characteristics and Behavior of Armadillo Lizards

armadillo lizard

Armadillo lizards possess unique characteristics and display interesting behaviors that contribute to their appeal as pets. These reptiles are equipped with prominent spines on their head, body, tail, and legs, providing them with a natural defense mechanism against predators. They are generally light to dark brown in color and have a compact size, growing to just over four inches in length.

In addition to their physical attributes, armadillo lizards are known for their sociable behavior. Unlike many reptiles that prefer solitude, armadillo lizards thrive in group settings, even when there is ample shelter available for each individual. Their social nature makes them fascinating creatures to observe and interact with, as they engage in various social interactions and display unique communication methods.

When confronted with a threat, armadillo lizards have an interesting defense mechanism. Similar to their namesake, they have the ability to curl up into a protective ball. In this defensive position, they utilize their sharp teeth to bite their tails, providing an added layer of defense. This behavior not only helps protect them from potential harm but also adds to their intriguing nature as pets.

Overall, armadillo lizards possess distinct characteristics and behaviors that make them appealing to reptile enthusiasts. Their spiky armor, sociable nature, and unique defense mechanism contribute to their charm as pets. However, it is important to remember that armadillo lizards are illegal to export from South Africa, making their availability limited. Therefore, if you are fortunate enough to find a captive-bred armadillo lizard from a reputable source, proper care and attention should be given to ensure their well-being and enjoyment as part of your pet collection.

Care and Health of Armadillo Lizards

Proper care and attention are essential for the health and well-being of armadillo lizards. By understanding their specific needs, you can provide them with a suitable environment and ensure their longevity.

Diet and Nutrition

Armadillo lizards primarily feed on termites and crickets. It’s important to provide a varied diet to ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients. These prey items should be gut-loaded with a nutritious diet and supplemented with calcium powder to support their bone health.

Table 1: Recommended Diet for Armadillo Lizards

Food Frequency
Termites 2-3 times a week
Crickets 2-3 times a week
Vegetables (such as leafy greens) Once a week
Supplements (calcium powder) 2-3 times a week

Habitat and Enclosure

Creating a suitable habitat for armadillo lizards is crucial for their overall well-being. A tank with rocks, branches, and reptile carpet as substrate will provide them with ample hiding spots and opportunities for climbing. Maintain a temperature gradient within the enclosure, with a basking area heated to 80-85℉ during the day and a cooler area around 60-70℉ at night. Additionally, provide a shallow dish of clean water for drinking.

Common Health Concerns

While armadillo lizards are generally hardy, they can be susceptible to certain health issues. Two common health concerns are mouth infections and femoral pore infections. If you notice any signs of these infections, such as swelling, redness, or discharge, it is important to consult a veterinarian specializing in reptiles. Regular check-ups and maintaining a clean enclosure will help prevent such infections and ensure your armadillo lizard remains in good health.

Housing and Enclosure for Armadillo Lizards

When it comes to housing and enclosure for armadillo lizards, it’s important to provide them with a suitable habitat that mimics their natural environment. A 30-gallon tank is suitable for a single armadillo lizard, while larger groups may require a 40-50 gallon tank to accommodate their social behavior and provide enough space for each individual.

The tank should be equipped with rocks, branches, and reptile carpet as substrate to create a comfortable and stimulating environment. Armadillo lizards enjoy climbing and basking, so providing a variety of surfaces and hiding spots is essential. It’s important to ensure that the enclosure is escape-proof, as armadillo lizards are skilled climbers.

Table: Recommended Housing and Enclosure for Armadillo Lizards

Tank Size Substrate Decoration Heating Lighting
30-gallon Reptile carpet Rocks, branches Heat mat and basking lamp UVB light
40-50 gallon Reptile carpet Rocks, branches Heat mat, basking lamp, and ceramic heat emitter UVB light

The temperature inside the tank should be maintained between 80-85℉ during the day and 60-70℉ at night. A basking area should be provided, where the temperature can reach around 90-95℉. It’s important to use a thermostat to ensure the temperature remains consistent and to prevent overheating.

Additionally, armadillo lizards require UVB lighting to support their calcium metabolism and overall health. The UVB light should be placed above the basking area and should be on for 10-12 hours a day. It’s important to replace the UVB bulb every 6-12 months to ensure its effectiveness.

Lastly, a shallow, heavy water dish should be provided to allow armadillo lizards to drink and soak if desired. The dish should be cleaned regularly to maintain cleanliness and prevent bacterial growth.


In conclusion, armadillo lizards are fascinating reptiles with their dragon-like appearance and intriguing behavior. However, their legal status as pets poses significant challenges. It is now illegal to export armadillo lizards from their native South Africa, making it difficult to acquire them as pets.

If you are fortunate enough to find a captive-bred armadillo lizard from a reputable source, they can make excellent pets with the right care and attention. Providing a suitable habitat with rocks, branches, and reptile carpet, along with proper heating and lighting, is essential for their well-being. Additionally, a balanced diet of gut-loaded insects and regular veterinary care will ensure their health and longevity.

While the allure of owning an armadillo lizard is undeniable, it is crucial to respect their legal status and consider the ethical implications of acquiring them. We urge potential owners to thoroughly research and understand the laws surrounding armadillo lizards in their jurisdiction. It is our shared responsibility to protect these unique creatures and their natural habitats.