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Thread: Giant Girdled Lizard or Sungazer - Cordylus giganteus

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    Administrator wildheart's Avatar
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    Giant Girdled Lizard or Sungazer - Cordylus giganteus

    Giant Girdled Lizard or Sungazer - Cordylus giganteus

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    SVL 150-180 mm; max. SVL 205 mm

    A very large girdled lizard. Their numbers are declining (SA RDB, Vulnerable) due to habitat destruction (maize and sunflower farming) and because of collecting for the pet trade. Captive bred Sungazers, usually juveniles, are occasionally imported from South Africa to the U. S. and command a very high price. They are long-lived, hardy captives, but rarely reproduce in captivity.

    Biology and breeding:


    These terrestrial girdled lizards live in colonies in burrows that they dig in silty, fine soil. The burrows are usually about 17 m apart and approximately 420 mm deep and 1 800 mm long. They end abruptly without an enlarged chamber and may become flooded during the rainy season. Most face north or northwest to catch the sun. Each burrow is usually occupied by a single individual, although adults will often share their burrow with juveniles; 3 species of small frog also hibernate in winter in these burrows with the lizards. When a predator enters the burrow, the sungazer retreats backwards towards the mouth, lashing its spiny tail from side to side. If grasped, it will jam its occipital spines into the tunnel roof.

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    Sungazers are long-lived (longer than 20 years in captivity). They are often seen during the day, basking at the entrance to their burrows or on a termite mound, staring at the sun - hence the common name. They are sit-and-wait ambushers and feed mainly on invertebrates (beetles, grasshoppers, millipedes, termites and spiders), although they will take small vertebrates if the opportunity arises. They are dormant during winter and rarely seen above ground from May to mid-August.

    One or two babies, measuring 115-150 mm TL are born January-April, possibly only every 2-3 years.

    Habitat:
    Flat or gently sloping Themeda grassland or transitional zones.

    Range:
    Small scattered populations in NE Free State, extreme W. KwaZulu-Natal and SE Mpumalanga.
    I am Afrikaans speaking, excuse my English.

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    Super Moderator lucysfriend's Avatar
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    They are really neat looking. They aren't at any pet stores around here. I have never seen them before. Thanks Linky, that was an intersting read.)(&(*

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    Valued Contributor chueychuey's Avatar
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    I have never seen these before either! How cool! I do worry about their status in the wild now that you mention they are being exported. How often do you see these around your area?
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    Administrator wildheart's Avatar
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    Sadly, never. I've never seen one in the wild. I think the reason why you dont really see them in your pets hops is because they are illegally there. If you go under ground you will find them but of course at a heavy price. Sadly the Sungazer do not breed in captivity so you can basically say that all illegally exported ones are a dead end - there will be no other.

    They are truly amazing looking, I dont think I've seen another that are so darn cute.

    The difference between people who keep pets and people with a deep seated passion is that we will love the photos and gladly accept that they are out of our reach living in the wild. A pet keeper wants one regardless of their status.
    I am Afrikaans speaking, excuse my English.

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    Administrator wildheart's Avatar
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    Both of these lizards babies are born life. Out of all the reptiles in the world I think this one would have been last on my list of guessing due to their scales/armour. It must be painful regardless of how soft the baby's scales are.
    I am Afrikaans speaking, excuse my English.

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    Valued Contributor chueychuey's Avatar
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    What do they eat?
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    Administrator wildheart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chueychuey View Post
    What do they eat?
    The Armadillo Lizard lives mainly on small invertebrates such as insects and spiders. In the wild its most common prey items are the termites. From Wiki, I dont have my book here.
    I am Afrikaans speaking, excuse my English.

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    Member C murrindindi's Avatar
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    Not too long ago, they were quite commonly available here in the U.K (perhaps they still are, I`m not sure)?
    I have a friend who used to keep and breed one of the smaller species.
    On the Herpcenter forum last year, I was offering a little advice to a new member (not sure where he was, but I think here in Europe), anyway, a couple of weeks later, he told me the female had given birth to 4 babies!

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    Administrator wildheart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by murrindindi View Post
    anyway, a couple of weeks later, he told me the female had given birth to 4 babies!
    That is awesome! Do you know the exact species? I know the girdle-tailed (Armadillo) Cordylidae, Cordylus warreni ssp (Warren's girdle-tailed) and C. Tropidosternum ssp. (tropical girdle-tailed) are found in the pet trade.
    I am Afrikaans speaking, excuse my English.

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