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Girdled and Plated Lizards: Cordylidae

Cape Flat Lizard (platysaurus Capensis): Species Account

Physical characteristics: True to their name, the cape flat lizards are very flat animals. The females and juveniles both have a dark brown back with three wide, whitish stripes that run from head to tail. Their bellies are white with a black blotch in the middle. Adult males are much different. The front half of the upper body is bright blue, sometimes with pale spots or stripes, and the back half, including the tail, is brick-red. On the underside, the throat is light blue; the chest, dark blue, and the belly has a black center blotch. Adults range from about 2.5 to 3.3 inches (6.4 to 8.4 centimeters) from the tip of the snout to the vent, which is a slit-like opening on Cape flat lizards are shy animals that run for cover when humans or other potential predators come too close. (Bill Branch. Reproduced by permission.) the underside of the lizard at the beginning of the tail. The tail doubles the overall size, for a total length of about 5 to 6.6 inches (12.8 to 16.8 centimeters).

Geographic range: The cape flat lizard lives in the far southwest portion of Africa, in both South Africa and Namibia.

Habitat: They live in those areas of desert that have many rocks.

Diet: This lizard hunts by ambush, laying in wait in a shady spot under a rock until an insect happens by. At that point, it rushes out to nab the insect for a meal. It also eats flowers and berries when they are available.

Behavior and reproduction: Cape flat lizards are shy animals that run for cover when humans or other potential predators come too close. People usually see them from a distance on top of rocks, especially granite ledges. They may live in small groups. Females lay eggs in November or December and sometimes again a couple of months later. Each time, she lays two large eggs in moist soil beneath or in the crack of a rock.

Cape flat lizards and people: Because they live in deserts away from humans, lizards and humans rarely bother one another.

Conservation status: This species is not listed as endangered or threatened. ∎



Badger, D. Lizards: A Natural History of Some Uncommon Creatures— Extraordinary Chameleons, Iguanas, Geckos, and More. Stillwater. MN: Voyageur Press, 2002.

Branch, Bill. Field Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa. South Africa: Struik Publishers, 1998.

Glaw, Frank, and Miguel Vences. Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. 2nd ed. Privately printed, 1994.

Mattison, Chris. Lizards of the World. New York, NY: Facts on File, 1989.

Web sites

"Cordylids of the Cederberg." Cape Nature Conservation. http://www.capenature.org.za/cederbergproject/html/cordylids.html (accessed on October 18, 2004).

"Cordylus spp." Melissa Kaplan's Herp Care Collection. http://www.anapsid.org/cordylus.html (accessed on October 18, 2004).

"Plated lizards." Melissa Kaplan's Herp Care Collection. http://www.anapsid.org/plated.html (accessed on October 18, 2004).

"Plated lizards of the Cederberg." Cape Nature Conservation. http://www.capenature.org.za/cederbergproject/html/platedlizards.html (accessed on October 18, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceDinosaurs, Snakes, and Other ReptilesGirdled and Plated Lizards: Cordylidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Cape Flat Lizard (platysaurus Capensis): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, GIRDLED AND PLATED LIZARDS AND PEOPLE