Jones Armadillo Lizard Care

Jones Armadillo Lizard (Cordylus jonesii), also known as Limpopo Girdled Lizard

Popularity: Make good pets because they are hardy; however, they do not like being handled.

Origin: South Africa

Native habitat: dry forest

Size: 6-8 inches

Lifespan: up to 25 years

Appearance: It has a dorsal pattern that varies from red to brown to gray with dark spots or lines. Some individuals have lines that fuse into a black-bordered white stripe along the midline of the back. There is a distinct dark dorsolateral stripe running from the head to the hips. The belly, throat, and lips are cream to yellow. They have a spiny tail that is nearly half as long as the entire lizard. There are smooth scales on the throat and belly. Tube-like structures in the lizard’s nostrils help it sniff for insects.

Diet: insects

Defense Mechanisms: An alarmed Jones Armadillo Lizard puts its tail in its mouth and rolls itself into a ball. This exposes the thick scales on its back to thwart off predators. When it does this, it resembles the mammalian Armadillo, which is how it got its name.

Misc characteristics: Lives in groups of 30 or more in the wild. It is one of the few lizards that births live offspring rather than laying eggs. Do not house males together.



A 20-gallon aquarium tank with a secure, screened top makes good housing for one or two lizards. They are diggers, so the substrate should be a fairly deep layer of reptile-safe bark or mulch. Avoid sand, gravel and pebbles. It needs a hide box, a cave, cork bark or a piece of wood so it can get off by itself.

Temperature and Humidity

The housing needs a temperature of about 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime and low 70s at night. There needs to be a basking area of 95 degrees. Humidity should stay around 45%.


They need 8-10 hours a day of full spectrum UVB lighting so the lizard can synthesize minerals. They also need a day/night cycle, which you can provide with lamps or normal household lighting.


Feed the lizard gut-loaded and calcium-dusted crickets. Give them mealworms occasionally as a treat. Do not feed it wild-caught insects, as they may be diseased. A cricket should be no longer than the lizard’s mouth is wide. Adults need 8-10 crickets every other day; hatchlings and juveniles need 6-8 crickets daily. Keep a shallow bowl of water in the tank for drinking.

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