Originating from Africa, the golden armadillo lizard has made its way into the exotic pet market because of its unusual behavior and manageable size. These lizards are famous for their ability to curl into a ball, protecting their soft underbellies and displaying their hard, spiny scales. Although atypical in appearance and ability, the armadillo lizard requires basic reptile care.
Interaction and Sociability
Armadillo lizards make interesting pets because unlike most reptiles, they live in social groups and enjoy interacting with one another. It is highly recommended if you choose the armadillo lizard as your pet that you keep more than one together for the animals' sakes. If you decide to keep these lizards in groups of three or more, limit your population to only one male so they don't fight with each other. As much as armadillo lizards like each other's company, they don't particularly like being handled. Don't be surprised if your armadillo lizard goes into its characteristic protective ball shape when you try to touch it. Armadillo lizards aren't the best pet choice for people who want an affectionate reptile companion.
A basic lizard terrarium set-up is all you need for golden armadillos. The average size for an armadillo lizard is 3 to 4 inches from snout to vent, so a 30-gallon tank provides enough room for two lizards. However, providing the largest enclosure possible is better so your lizards feel they have plenty of room. Armadillo lizards need hiding places, a UV-B lamp, a heat lamp or pad, and a dish of water. They can tolerate a number of different substrates, but sand most closely replicates their natural environment. They require a daytime temperature of about 85 degrees Fahrenheit, with a basking area between 120 and 130 degrees. Nighttime temperatures should be between 60 and 70 degrees across the heat gradient. Armadillo lizards like hiding places in both the cool and warm sides of the terrarium. A rock or log should be positioned under the heat lamp so they can bask easily. Humidity between 45 and 55 percent is ideal. Misting the tank daily helps keep humidity at the proper level.
Golden armadillo lizards require about the same amount of maintenance as other reptiles. They require regular terrarium cleaning, and the enclosure should be fully disinfected monthly. Armadillo lizards need a shallow dish of clean water at all times and should be fed once a day or every other day. Armadillo lizards primarily eat live invertebrates but also eat the occasional vegetation. Some lizards enjoy eating leafy greens and fruit, but others won't accept vegetation as food. Just as it is for many other reptiles, armadillo lizards should receive regular calcium supplements to keep their bones strong. This is often provided by dusting calcium powder on live insects before feeding.
Health and Longevity
Armadillo lizards are generally hardy and suffer from few health problems if their habitat is adequate and well-maintained. Because they're an exotic lizard, it might be difficult to find a veterinarian that understands these animals and has experience working with them. Always make arrangements with a veterinarian who can care for your new pet before you adopt it. Armadillo lizards can live as long as 25 years, so are long-term commitment pets. This should also be considered when you're deciding if an armadillo lizard is the right animal companion for you.
Madeline Masters works as a dog walker and professional writer. In the past she has worked as a fitness columnist, fundraising copywriter and news reporter. Masters won two Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Awards in 2009. She graduated from Elizabethtown College with a Bachelor of Arts in English.