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How To Care For Baby Armadillo Lizard In 10 Ways

Armadillo lizards are among the most unique reptiles that people keep as a pet. They are similar in appearance to dragons due to their piercing eyes, triangular head, and sharp scales, along with their armor. Another fascinating thing is that they curl like a ball in a defensive position like an armadillo, hence their name.

Baby armadillo lizards are just miniature adult armadillo lizards. It is quite easy to look after them as they require just basic reptile care to keep them happy and healthy. However, there are a few specific needs that baby armadillo lizards need.

In this article, we will help break down everything you need to know about how to care for baby armadillo lizards.

Armadillo Lizard Species Overview

Armadillo lizards are also known as Golden armadillo lizards, armadillo girdled lizards, and armadillo spiny tailed lizards. They originate from east and south Africa but can also be spotted in West Africa. Most experts believe that they are desert animals, but they are considered savanna reptiles.

They usually inhabit grassy savannas, sandy patches, muddy floors around watering holes, and upturned dirt.

Baby Armadillo Lizard
Baby Armadillo Lizard


Armadillo lizards can be characterized by a dark head with back patterns forming stripes or spots, usually yellow or golden brown in color. You can easily identify armadillo lizards through their armor-like skin.

Armadillo lizards have a flat body and head, which helps them to squeeze between rocks. They possess spiny armor-like skin that covers their body, head, tail, and legs. The spikes are known as osteoderms, and it is present in some other reptiles like alligators, sulcata tortoises, and crocodiles.

Armadillo lizards are not as colorful as other popular pet reptiles as they are generally light to dark brown. They also have yellow underbellies with a black pattern.

Size & Lifespan

Armadillo lizards are considered small-sized reptiles. Adult armadillo lizards are usually very small and usually grow to around 4 inches long. However, the juvenile armadillo lizard is around 2.3-3.7 inches long. Baby armadillo lizards are usually about 2inches long after birth.

Generally, male armadillo lizards are quite longer than females, but they are usually similar in size. This shows you cannot use length to indicate their sex.

Armadillo lizards have a long lifespan and usually recover well from illnesses, so they make a great pet. In captivity, they can live for up to 25 years and have few health issues.

Adult armadillo lizard
Adult armadillo lizard

Typical Behavior & Temperament

Armadillo lizards have relatively docile temperaments, which makes it quite easy to keep them. 

In the wild, you will either find them basking in the sun or hiding between rocks. Armadillo lizards are heavily built and are slow-moving reptiles. Due to their armored skin, armadillo lizards cannot run from predators, which is why they curl up instead.

Armadillo lizards are social animals as they are usually found in groups of 4-6 lizards in the wild. Many believe that they move in a group to help protect each other from predators. Armadillo lizards have powerful jaws that can bite off toes and can draw blood.

Male armadillo girdled lizards are territorial and are aggressive to other males, especially during the mating season. You should avoid housing male armadillo lizards together in the same enclosure. Instead, you can house male armadillo lizards with 2-3 females.

Armadillo lizards are known to brumate during the winter. However, many owners prefer to keep armadillo lizard’s tank temperature constant in captivity to prevent brumation.

Baby Armadillo Lizard Care Sheet

Caring for a baby armadillo lizard is quite similar to an adult armadillo lizard. Although baby armadillo lizards require special care, it is quite easy to care for them that even beginner hobbyists can raise.

If you want to breed armadillo lizards, it is best if you can provide your baby armadillo lizards with a baby box, UV light, heat pad, and water dish to make the process seamless.

Baby Box Preparation for a Baby Armadillo Lizard 

Although adult armadillo lizards can be housed in a 20-gallon tank, you will need a baby box for your armadillo lizards. You can prepare a baby box for your baby armadillo lizards with a plastic storage box for them.

This is because it can be quite hard to maintain the temperature and humidity needed by baby armadillo lizards in a big tank. Another reason is that baby armadillo lizards are usually shy when kept with their parents, and many do not bask when kept with adult armadillo lizards.

Baby armadillo lizards will also not get the required UVB exposure that they need if kept in a big tank.

You can create a baby box for your armadillo lizards by placing a plastic box upside down and then create a cut-out door. You can then use a secure mesh top to help ensure that your armadillo lizards are secure in their tank and there is enough ventilation for them.

You can also place live or artificial plants in their enclosure that your lizard can climb and maintain humidity.

Baby armadillo lizard care [source: The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden]

Heating For Your Baby Armadillo Lizard

Just like an adult armadillo lizard, a baby armadillo needs a warm environment with low humidity to stay healthy. This means you don’t need to worry about the humidity in their enclosure. However, you will need to ensure the temperature is always up, reducing the humidity in the enclosure.

Baby armadillo lizards require a daytime temperature around 80-85F and a nighttime temperature around 60-70F. You will also need to provide a basking area with a temperature between 115-130F. The humidity in their enclosure can then be around 45-55%.

Here are some products that you can use to provide the heat needed by armadillo lizards:

Last update on 2022-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

UV Light For Your Baby Armadillo Lizard

Baby armadillo lizards need to have access to UVB light to stay healthy. They need UVB light to synthesize vitamin D3 to help absorb calcium properly. Without D3, baby armadillo lizards can develop a metabolic bone disease that can cripple or kill your lizard.

However, baby armadillo lizards are usually shy and may not bask like adults, especially when kept with their parents. Instead of climbing to the top of the rock piles for basking, baby armadillo lizards prefer to stay close to the terrarium’s floor, which can be quite far from the bulb.

This means you need to ensure that the UV light gets to your baby armadillo lizards unfiltered. You will need to avoid placing the UV light outside of their glass but can place it on top of a screen. The UV bulb should be around 12 inches from your armadillo lizards.

You can turn on the UV light for around 10-12 hours per day. You can also place one or two rocks in their box in case your baby armadillo lizards want to get closer to the bulb.

Note: Ensure that you change your UVB light every six months because the UV output usually drops with time.

Some of the UVB lights that you can use for your baby armadillo lizards are

Last update on 2022-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Substrate For Your Baby Armadillo Lizard

A suitable substrate for your baby armadillo lizard is the reptile carpet. You can simply cut two carpets to fit the baby box. Once the first carpet is dirty, you can remove and replace it with the second one.

You can then rinse the dirty carpet in a cold tap to remove droppings, dirt, or uneaten food. You can then dry it and use it when the second reptile carpet is dirty.

It is not suitable to use sand as a substrate for your baby armadillo lizard. This is because when your baby armadillo lizard is eating, it can mistakenly ingest the sand. This can then lead to impactions that can kill your armadillo lizard.

Water Dishes For Your Baby Armadillo Lizard

You will need to provide your baby armadillo lizard with a shallow and heavy water dish for drinking. The water dish should not be more than an inch deep to help prevent your baby armadillo lizards from drowning. You will also need to change the water in the dish every day.

Food For Your Baby Armadillo Lizards?

Armadillo lizards are carnivorous animals. Because they are slow-moving, they usually sit and wait for prey larger than a termite. In the wild, baby armadillo lizards usually feed on millipedes, crickets, termites and spiders.

This means you can feed them with insects like crickets, butter worms, super worms, etc. However, you will need to gut load and dust the insect before offering it to your lizard. You will also need to ensure that you feed a baby and juvenile armadillo lizards daily for their growth.


It is recommended to toss a few insects at a time and wait for the lizard to eat them before you add more. Once you notice that your lizard did not eat all of them, you can then remove them at night. This is because leftover insects may spread bacteria around the cage and water bowl.

Furthermore, some insects like crickets can give small lizards painful bites. Although armadillo lizards have an armored body, the insect can bite their eyelids and mouth area or make your lizard lose its finger or toe.

Handling Baby Armadillo Lizards

Armadillo lizards are quite friendly and social in nature. Once you bring your baby armadillo lizards home, it is normal for them to run away from you once you walk past their enclosure. Your armadillo lizard can even try to hide or curl itself up once you approach them.

This is because they are not used to human interaction. Here are some of the steps you can take to tame your baby armadillo lizards and then handle them:

  • Start the bonding process by sitting close to your lizard enclosure so it can get used to you.
  • Once your armadillo lizard does not run away after seeing you, you can then try to put your hand in their enclosure.
  • Use your armadillo lizard’s favorite food to lure them into accepting food from your hand.
  • Handle your lizard carefully as they have spikes over their body that can potentially scratch you.
  • Allow your lizard to shuffle from one arm to another.

Note: Avoid holding your armadillo lizards from their tail as they can cut off their tail as a defense mechanism. You also need to avoid keeping your armadillo out in the open for a long period to ensure they don’t get cold.

Baby Armadillo Lizards Health Problems 

It is quite easy to keep a baby armadillo healthy for a long time. All you have to do is ensure the temperature in their enclosure is constant, they have access to UV light, and you provide them with high-quality food dusted with calcium supplements.

However, baby armadillo lizards can also have health problems. The health problems of baby Armadillo Lizards are not much different from those of adult Armadillo Lizards. You can detect that your baby armadillo lizards have a health problem when it shows symptoms like weight loss, loss of appetite, lethargy, and weak bones.

Some of the common illnesses and diseases that baby armadillo lizards can have are stated below.

Mouth Infections

This is the swelling of the armadillo lizard mouth usually caused by insufficient heat in their enclosure. It can be a severe issue for your armadillo lizards if you do not treat them immediately. Mouth infections in armadillo lizards can easily be prevented by ensuring the temperature in their enclosure is at optimal range.

You can then treat infected armadillo lizards by taking your lizard to the vet for antibiotics.

Metabolic Bone Disease

Armadillo lizards can develop metabolic bone disease if they don’t have access to UVB lighting. Metabolic bone disease can cause bone deformation and can cause disability if you do not treat them immediately.

You can treat metabolic bone disease in your armadillo lizard by providing access to UVB lighting and ensuring you supplement their food with calcium.

Respiratory Infection

Armadillo lizards can have respiratory issues if kept in an enclosure with low temperature or high humidity levels. Some symptoms of the respiratory issue in armadillo lizards are gasping, mucus emission, and heavy breathing.

You can take your armadillo lizard to the vet for treatment once you detect it is suffering from respiratory issues.

Retained Shed

Armadillo lizards can experience stuck sheds when they are dehydrated or kept at low humidity. Stuck sheds can lead to blood flow constriction in armadillo lizards, leading to the loss of their tail tips, foot, or toes.

You can prevent retained shedding in your armadillo lizard by providing a damp area in your lizard enclosure. You can also provide a water bowl in their enclosure to help provide water to your lizard when needed. 

You can help armadillo lizards with retained shed by providing a lukewarm bath and then help peel it off once the skin dries out.

Tips When Taking Care Of Baby Armadillo Lizards

Here are some things that you need to keep in mind when taking care of baby armadillo lizards:

  • Ensure you clean your baby armadillo lizard’s enclosure regularly and fully disinfect the enclosure every month to avoid skin infection or bacterial reaction.
  • Place a shallow dish with clean water in the enclosure and ensure you change the water every day.
  • Feed your baby armadillo lizards every day.
  • Ensure you dust or gut-load the insect with supplements before you give your armadillo.
  • Remove any leftover food from your armadillo lizard’s enclosure.
  • Ensure the temperature in your baby armadillo lizard is at optimal range.
  • Provide a UVB light for your baby armadillo lizard enclosure and ensure you change it every six months.
  • Avoid using sand as a substrate for your baby armadillo to avoid impaction.
  • Ensure you provide lots of flat rocks in their enclosure where your lizard can lie on or underneath it.

Do Armadillo Lizards Make Good Pets?

Armadillo lizards are hardy reptiles which makes them a suitable pet for beginner to experienced hobbyists. It is quite easy to care for them, and they are very sociable. Some of the reasons why armadillo lizards make a good pet are stated below.

Relative Ease To Look After Them

It is quite easy to look after armadillo lizards, and the best thing is that they are not messy. You will love keeping armadillo lizards if you can set up a bioactive vivarium or a tank filled with a self-contained ecosystem comprising invertebrates that can feed on waste.

Unlike most pet lizards, armadillo lizards eat less frequently, and you can feed them with crickets and other insects found at an exotic pet store.

Does Not Require A Large Enclosure

Armadillo lizards are small-sized lizards, and you don’t need a large habitat to keep them safe. You can easily keep two armadillo lizards in 20–30-gallon tanks. However, you will need a bigger tank to house more than two armadillos in the same enclosure.

They Are Social

One interesting thing about armadillo lizards is that they are social. They are usually found living in groups in the wild, maybe for warding off prey. Furthermore, it is recommended that you keep about two armadillo lizards together due to their social behavior.

Armadillo lizards are also more curious about their environments. You will notice that your lizard pops up their small heads whenever you walk past their tanks, and they usually show interest and watch when something fascinating happens around them.

Last Sentences

Armadillo lizards are unique and rewarding pets if you understand how to care for them. Caring for baby armadillo lizards is the same as that of adult armadillo care, except they need a small enclosure to stay healthy.

Furthermore, armadillo lizards are hardy creatures with a long lifespan.

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