Why Armadillo Lizards Make Great Pets

Armadillo lizards are one of the coolest pet reptiles on the block. Owners tell us they love their unique look, how easy they are to care for, and watching them roll up and bite their own tail.

Don’t forget about their long life span (Armadillo lizards can live up to 25 years). Watch your fingers (and your kids’) when handling these little guys. They’re known to bite, and are stronger than they look.

Also, while it’s perfectly legal to breed them in captivity or buy from a reputable breeder, never try to catch one in the wild or you could end up in legal hot water.

Why We Love Pet Armadillo Lizards

Owning an armadillo lizard pet is something exceptionally unique when compared to other lizards. Their interactions and unusual biology set them apart. They can live for around 25 years as part of a loving home, and they are sure to surprise you as you observe them. If you have one of each gender, you may even be able to witness a live reptilian birth. 

You can bask in the wonder of having a rare desert creature in your home. If you treat them well, they’ll live longer with you than they could in the wild. Armadillo lizards are sure to leave a lasting impact on you.

About the Armadillo Lizard

The armadillo lizard is also known as a girdled or spiny-tailed lizard. It has a grayish-brown color and thick, spiny scales covering its body. These reptiles can grow to a maximum of eight inches. Each lizard experiences a lifespan of 20 to 30 years in captivity. 

Named for its unique anti-predation ability, the armadillo lizard will curl into a ring shape with its tail inside its mouth when threatened. This tightened body shape defends it against threats, just like an armadillo. 

Fun Fact: Part of the armadillo Lizard’s scientific name, Ouroborus, comes from the Greek emblem Ouroboros. The icon depicts a snake devouring its tail, just like the armadillo lizard, which symbolizes the end and the beginning of time in infinity. 

The armadillo girdled lizard is endemic to desert regions of South America, so it is accustomed to high ambient temperatures and bright light. It likes to eat small invertebrates including insects and spiders. Termites are its preferred food source in the wild, but pet owners often feed them crickets. 

The reptile is a social animal and is also territorial. It will not be defensive around members of its species, but can be aggressive with other reptiles. This is especially true of male armadillo lizards, which occasionally fight even with members of their communities. 

Do Armadillo Lizards Lay Eggs?

Armadillo lizards are unique in that they do not lay eggs. The females give live birth and sometimes even feed their young directly, which is rare among reptiles. At most, they tend to breed once per year. 

Are Armadillo Lizards Endangered?

Armadillo lizards in the while have been declining, and a big reason was the pet trade. So now they’re protected, but not ‘endangered.’ The International Union for the Conservation of Nature classifies armadillo lizards as vulnerable, but of the least concern. Today it’s illegal to capture these reptiles in the wild, but it is still lawful to breed them in captivity

Armadillo Lizard Care

An armadillo lizard pet has several spacing, diet, and social needs. Reptiles are unique pets and may require more maintenance than you expect, so treat them with love and care. Only invest in a pet if you are resolved to give it a healthy life in captivity. 

Temperature & UV Light

Desert reptiles love a tank or terrarium set-up with sand, rocks, and hideaways. A 30-gallon tank is a perfect size for accommodating their maximum growth. Armadillo lizards like strong heat, so you’ll need both a heat lamp and a UV-B lamp to keep them healthy. A heating pad also works well. 

Armadillo lizards have stark temperature requirements. 85 degrees is most comfortable for them during the daytime, and they prefer warm 60–70 degree nights. Like most desert reptiles, they love to bask for a portion of the day, and their basking location in the tank should reach temperatures of around 125 degrees Fahrenheit. 

These lizards love to go from hot to shady areas, so make sure that your tank suits both of those needs as much as possible. In addition, 45–55 percent humidity is ideal for them. Misting the tank each day is a great way to keep this factor constant. 

Armadillo Lizard Diet

Armadillo lizards primarily enjoy live insects. Crickets are an easy-to-find choice, but these reptiles will also happily eat spiders and termites. Most captive reptiles need calcium supplements to stay healthy, and the easiest way to administer these is to sprinkle calcium dust on their live food. 

Your armadillo lizard will need to be fed once every 1–2 days. If your reptile is ignoring live food during a daily feeding schedule, try once every other day instead. They will need a shallow tray of clean water at all times, so refill it once or twice per day. 

It may improve your lizard’s appetite to reserve a different live food for meals every few days. 

Social Interaction

Armadillo lizards are one of few reptile species that live in communities. For your pet’s longevity, I suggest considering a second armadillo lizard for your tank. If you do, I recommend you increase the size of your terrarium as well. While two of these reptiles can live in a 30-gallon container, a larger one may be more comfortable.

In addition, I suggest not having two male armadillo lizards together, as they can be aggressive.

Reptiles are not the most affectionate pets, and the armadillo lizard is no different. They do not like to be held or handled and may curl into a ball when touched. The joy of armadillo lizards comes from observing how they socially interact with each other. 

Cleaning and Maintenance

Armadillo lizards will need their tank to be cleaned often to help combat disease. In addition, you should fully disinfect their habitat monthly. Keep a separate, spacious container for them while you cleanse their primary one. 

If you have two or more male lizards, check on them regularly to make sure they aren’t acting aggressively. If they are, I suggest moving one of them to a separate tank. Armadillo lizards typically live relaxed lifestyles, so they are healthiest when their surroundings are safe and clean. 

They shouldn’t need many medical checkups or treatments. However, you should keep in contact with a vet who can treat them in case they need it. It can be difficult to find an exotic reptile doctor, so I advise seeking one out before you purchase an armadillo lizard. 

These reptiles are strong and hardy, so if you continually regulate their humidity, water, temperature, and environment, they will live for a long time.