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Reptiles found in the Kruger – The giant plated lizard

By December 3, 2015No Comments
Giant plated lizard
Giant plated lizard. 

The second largest species of lizard found in South Africa, after the monitor lizard is the giant plated lizard.  A true-warmth loving reptile it named ‘plated lizard’ due to its plate-like back scales that act as its body armour.

The giant plated lizard is large in size, with a flattened head and body, and can reach a total length of 75 cm (29.5 in). Adults are a dark brown to black colour with bars, a yellowish tint in colour, running down their backs, a white throat and light brown belly. Youngsters are the same in colour but have a more prominent yellow speckled appearance and stripes running along their backs, which fade with age.

They have specially adapted black soles on their feet that are rubber-like balls for living amongst rock outcrops.
Giant plated lizard
Giant plated lizard amongst rock outcrops


Giant plated lizards are found in the north-eastern parts of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu Natal within South Africa. They are also found in other countries of southern African such as Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

They live in the rocky outcrop areas which are mostly situated on the upper slopes of granite hills.

They are highly territorial reptiles although not solitary and will live in small family groups.
A shy lizard by nature they are hard to approach and will usually jam themselves into a rock crevice when feeling threatened by flattening their body and inflating themselves with air, making it impossible to pull them out.

With their strong and muscular legs, they are able to move effortlessly among the rock faces in their territory.

Giant plated lizards are omnivorous with a varied selection of flora and fauna to choose from to eat. They feed on flowers, leaves, soft fruits such as figs and will eat other smaller lizards as well as baby tortoises.

They move slowly when searching for their food while scraping through loose soil or leaf litter for possibly hidden snacks.
Giant plated lizard
A young giant plated lizard. 


When breeding season begins in summer, the males develop a pinkish-red in colour hint to their throat and sides of head. Males become highly territorial and will fight with one another, while persistently tailing a female.

Females are oviparous meaning they lay eggs after mating. They seek out soil-filled rock crevices in which to lay and hide their 2 to 5 oval shaped eggs. Giant plated lizards are 150 to 170 mm long when hatched.
Did you know?

Those that prey on the giant plated lizard are snakes, some mammals and a selection of birds of prey.