Giant Plated Lizard


ORDER: Squamata

FAMILY: Gerrhosauridae

GENUS: Gerrhosaurus

SPECIES: validus

DESCRIPTION:
A large lizard with a flattened head and body. Length is maximum of 69 cm (27 inches). The dorsal scales are small with many ridges which give the back edges a serrated appearance. Lower eyelid is covered with small scales. There are black rubber-like balls on the soles of the feet. The back is dark brown to black, with each head shield and dorsal scale spotted yellow, giving a speckled appearance; a pair of broad dorsolateral stripes is sometimes present. The throat is dirty white, and the belly is light brown. In breeding season, the chin, throat and sides of the head of the males become tinged with pink-purple.

GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
Weathered rocky knolls in South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, with one subspecies in Namibia and southern Angola.

DIET:
Feeds on a mixed diet composed largely of leaves, flowers, and fruit; it also captures insects, spiders, millipedes, scorpions, and smaller lizards.

LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
The female usually lays four large, oval eggs with leathery shells in soil-filled cracks in the rock in midsummer.

SPECIAL ADAPTATIONS:
Plated lizards have a groove running laterally along the length of the body. This groove contains skin that is not covered with plated scales and allows for expansion. They wander over a large area in search of food, but when disturbed they run back to their rocky hill and hide in cracks. They wedge themselves in place by laying the tail around the body and filling their lungs with air.

INTERPRETIVE INFORMATION:
Also known as Smith's Plated Rock Lizard (Grzimek), South African Plated Lizard (Vivarium), or Giant Plated Lizard (Branch's Field Guide). Since ISIS, and thus zoo records will be using Giant Plated Lizard for G.validus, we will also.

OUR ANIMALS:
1 giant plated lizard

STATUS IN WILD:
Not endangered.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  1. Branch, Bill. 1988. Bill Branch's Field Guide to the Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa, Ralph Curtis Pub, p.153.
  2. Grzimek, Bernhard. 1975. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia Vol. 6. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co, New York City, NY, pp. 271-2.
  3. Kirkpatrick, David. 1993. "Plated Lizards of the Genus Gerrhosaurus: An Alternative to Iguanas" originally in HerpTales, September, Internet.

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