Cordylidae – Spinytail lizards

You can find them huddled up in rocky cervices in African deserts.

Cordylidae, a family of small to medium-sized terrestrial lizards, is exclusively found in African rocky deserts, savannas, and Madagascar, where they have adapted to their harsh environments. The family includes various species, such as girdled lizards, plated lizards, and flat lizards, each with unique characteristics that help them thrive in their habitats.

One of the most striking features of Cordylidae lizards is their armor-like appearance, thanks to overlapping spiny scales that cover their bodies from head to tail. These scales, combined with bony head shields, give them the appearance of miniature knights in armor. Despite their formidable appearance, Cordylidae lizards are not aggressive but rely on their armor for protection.

When threatened, members of this family exhibit fascinating defensive behaviors. They quickly scurry for hiding places, often seeking refuge in cracks between rocks or beneath debris. Alternatively, if they find themselves exposed to danger, they can roll up into a tight ball, presenting a minimal target to potential predators. Additionally, like many other lizard species, Cordylidae lizards can detach their tails as a distraction tactic, allowing them to escape while their tail continues to wriggle, confusing predators.

Despite their defensive adaptations, Cordylidae lizards play important roles in their ecosystems as both predators and prey. They primarily feed on insects and small invertebrates, helping to control pest populations in their habitats.