23 Different Types of Lizards in South Africa

Types of Lizards in South Africa
Photo by Ram Kumar

When it comes to certain animals, it is better to know about them than not. Such an animal is the lizard in South Africa. The different types of lizards in South Africa are so diverse that there’s something for everyone. 

Some may like water dragons; others may be fascinated by burrowing rapids or a beautiful tree gecko for their bedroom! No matter what type of lizard you’re looking for, one is waiting for you on this list.

There are different types of lizards in South Africa.

1. Agama Armata

The agama armada is also known as the Giant Malagasy giant chameleon. It is one of the different types of lizards in South Africa.  

The A. armata has a lengthy body and comparatively long tail that can be up to two-thirds its length. They are around 30 cm (1 ft) from nose to tail tip, with females significantly smaller than males.

Adults weigh between 500 and 1,000 grams. Their coloration varies between light and dark green or grey-brown, with rows of dark spots along their bodies.

2. Bibron’s Thick-toed Gecko

This lizard can live up to 11 years and are nocturnal. One exciting thing about this type of gecko is that they may stop moving for over an hour if threatened. This makes it difficult for predators to attack them. 

They will climb trees and bushes and become motionless, which is how scientists found them. The bibron’s thick-toed gecko is just one of the different types of lizards in South Africa worth knowing!

3. Broadley’s Flat Lizard

The Broadley’s flat lizard is indigenous to eastern and southern parts of southern Africa. They are famous for surviving without water by living off their fat stores. For this reason, they make great companions for people who work outdoors or live in dry environments. 

They are among the most prominent of the different types of lizards in South Africa. They usually grow up to 22 inches long and weigh an average of two pounds. 

As a result, smaller lizards have a more remarkable ability to keep cool through movement and breathing. This ability makes them excellent choices for high-activity homes. Their eggs are also hardy enough that they won’t rot if left out in direct sunlight!

4. Cape Flat Lizard

Cape flat lizards are large, flattened, and good types of lizards in South Africa. They are brown with oval markings on their body, ranging from orange to greenish-brown.

The length is generally 13 inches or 33 centimeters, with a tail about 10 inches or 25 centimeters long. 

Their toes are large and round, and their hind feet have webbing for swimming between rocks and moving across the land. These lizards in South Africa tend to be most active during the day’s heat.

They prefer areas near water sources like rivers where they can catch insects or smaller animals such as reptiles and rodents.

5. Cape Grass Lizard

South Africa is home to a lot of lizards. One species is the Cape grass lizard, a beautiful and different type of lizard in South Africa.

A Uniform brownish color is a characteristic of a cape grass lizard. These lizards only grow to about 10 inches long, with males having thinner bodies than females.

A cape grass lizard catches insects with a mouth lined with well-developed teeth. It has four toes on each foot, which enables it to walk or crawl on any surface.

6. Common Flat Lizard

You may not be familiar with the different types of lizards in South Africa, but they can be found around homes. They are typically seen sunning themselves on stones or building walls. 

This lizard is commonly seen and recognizable by its pattern that looks like a tiled surface. Another type is called the star-fronted leaf-toed gecko, and this one has camouflage that mimics tree bark.

7. Dwarf Flat Lizard

The dwarf flat lizard is a small but active reptile. Dwarf flat lizards are prevalent in various habitats of Southern Africa. They’re excellent jumpers, quickly traveling from shrubs to ground or from one tree to another. 

They inhabit woodland and grassland habitat types and dry grasslands with bushes and trees. Despite their name, they are often seen resting on rocks, low branches, or the ground during midday. 

They are also sometimes seen hiding under logs, leaves, or stones. These types of lizards in South Africa come in shades of brown, grey, and green, with black spots on the back that look like diamonds. They’re agile and a different type of lizard in South Africa.

8. Lebombo Flat Lizard

The Lebombo flat lizard is one of the many different types of lizards in South Africa. It is a type of gecko, and among other things, Lebombo flat lizard can stand found in one spot in Mpumalanga. They have an exciting form of territorial marking. 

When they find a good place to live, they rub their bodies on the branches to leave behind their scent markings. They are primarily nocturnal, so you often hear them calling out before dusk as they search for food and mates.

9. Trachylepis Striata

The Trachylepis striata is a commonly seen African lizard living on the edges of forest and grassland areas.

This tiny lizard can grow up to three inches long, making it one of the smallest lizards in southern Africa. Like many other reptiles, it can change its color to camouflage into its surroundings.

10. Trachylepis Capensis

Lizards are easily identifiable but elusive creatures. They blend into their surroundings and lay low, only to dart away when you get too close to them. 

Trachylepis capensis is a lizard with many shades ranging from light blue to dark blue and even black. Quite a different type of lizard in South Africa.

They typically average about 1 foot long. Trachylepis capensis has a solitary lifestyle, meaning it’s either alone or in just one mating pair at any time. They’re polygamous as well – they have multiple mates throughout their lifetime.

11. Pachydactylus Labialis

The Pachydactylus labialis are small insectivorous and are good types of lizards in South Africa. This lizard has a brownish back and a dirty orange underbelly with black, checkerboard-like markings along its side.

Females are generally larger than males and have huge femoral pores used for mating purposes. Pachydactylus labialis can be found in patches on both coastal and inland areas (providing for their dietary needs).

12. Pachydactylus Geitje

The Pachydactylus gentle (commonly called Gey’s Chameleon) are small and different types of lizards in southern Africa. These tiny lizards grow about three inches long from nose to tail and feature distinctive bony bumps on their upper eyelids.

They are skilled climbers with sticky toes that allow them to walk up tree trunks and across branches easily. Gey’s chameleons are primarily dark green or brown with orange-yellow spots running down their sides to their stomachs.

13. Pachydactylus austeni

Also known as Austen’s rock gecko, it is a tiny, nocturnal gecko. It is found chiefly on granite outcrops and rocky hillsides. These species have short limbs and long tails that are used for balancing. 

Males usually grow to about 18mm and females about 20mm. Females have a teardrop-shaped seat, with the broadest point just behind the head. Males have a more arrowhead-shaped tail. 

The coloration of these geckos can vary from grayish brown to red-brown, depending on their habitat. They feed mainly on insects but eat fruit and other plant material such as leaves and flowers.

The female Austen’s rock gecko lays two eggs at a time (during breeding season), hatching after about six months.

14. Pachydactylus Atorquatus

There are many types of lizards in South Africa, but you will find Pachydactylus atorquato on any mountain-facing slope. They feed mainly on plant matter, insects, and sometimes small lizards or amphibians.

This type typically lives up to its namesake as they hunt primarily at night, using their excellent camouflage to stalk prey.

They tend to go unnoticed by other predators. They can be seen with huge mounds that could easily fit ten human bodies.

They are one of only a few species with a forked tongue. This feature aids them in locating any insect prey that may reside in tree bark or plants nearby.

15. Nile Monitor

The Nile monitor (Varanus niloticus) is a large species of lizard found throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. They are a medium brown color with yellow stripes running down their body.

These lizards have long tails and enormous claws, allowing them to move quickly and grip objects.

It is an excellent swimmer, using its powerful hind legs to propel itself through the water at incredible speeds. When confronted, it will stand on its back legs and hiss, opening its mouth wide to reveal sharp teeth. 

The Nile monitor will also shake its tail like a whip when threatened or angry. The seat can hit predators to scare them away or even knock them over!

16. Transvaal Girdled Lizard

A Transvaal girdled lizard is a small, flat, long-tailed lizard with a powerful head and distinctive orange spots. They are of the many unique and different types of lizards in South Africa. They are often seen out at night on rocky surfaces where they search for insects. 

They live around fast-flowing streams and pools in the Southern Cape and Western Cape of South Africa. Girdled lizards can grow up to 8cm (3 inches) long, including their tail!

These little creatures have specialized teeth that allow them to chew through hard food items like insect exoskeletons.

These lizards need a lot of moisture to stay hydrated because they don’t have sweat glands and cannot produce water.

17. Transvaal Girdled Lizard

Transvaal girdled lizards are ground-dwelling and different types of lizards in South Africa. It is notable for its bright and unique coloring.

They are black with white or yellow stripes on their back, sometimes forming a vague shape resembling an exclamation point. 

This species occurs in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, and Transvaal Province. These lizards may reach over 30 cm (12 inches) in length, but generally, they grow no longer than 20 cm (8 inches). 

Males are usually larger than females; males can be up to three times heavier than females when fully grown. The diet of this species consists mainly of beetles and other insects.

18. Trachylepis Punctatissima

One different types of lizards in South Africa are Trachylepis punctatissima. These little guys grow up to four inches long and sport camouflage coloring. 

T. punctatissima are insectivores and will chow down on insects when given the opportunity. They can be found chiefly around stones and boulders but sometimes forage for bugs at roadsides.

19. Trachylepis Spilogaster

The Trachylepis spilogaster are exciting and different types of lizards in South Africa. It lives on the ground amongst rocks or loose soil, only venturing into low vegetation for its insect prey. 

With a maximum snout-to-vent length (SVL) of 90mm, it is one of the most miniature types of lizard. Trachylepis spilogaster can live up to six years in captivity, with two or three being average.

20. Scelotes Limpopoensis

Scelotes limpopoensis is a legless lizard with rough, oval scales. It is usually green with cream underparts. Females lay 10-12 eggs, guarded by the male until they hatch about two months later. 

Humans and cattle are significant threats to this species; habitat destruction has also impacted its numbers.

If you ever encounter this lizard, please let it go where it was found because disturbance could lead to extinction.

These animals live up to 15 years in captivity, but their average lifespan in the wild is less than five years. Some locals refer to them as fire lizards because of their bright color. 

They are primarily nocturnal, though they can also be seen during the day if startled or threatened. Scelotes limpopoensis has no known predators besides humans and large birds of prey like falcons. They are one of the many types of lizards in South Africa that could quickly go into extinction.

21. Pachydactylus Range

Though it is endemic to South Africa, the Pachydactylus range only occurs in areas where rain falls during winter. Scientists suspect this is due to its tendency to bury itself during dry periods and reappear after rains have fallen. 

They are mostly found among leaf litter or on tree bark, where they search for insects. However, they can occasionally be seen at ground level stalking large prey items like cicadas. 

They are one of the more common species on the island. Juveniles tend to congregate together while adult males will patrol territories.

22. Warren’s Girdled Lizard

Warren’s girdled lizard is brightly colored with spots and banding. When frightened, it emits a strong smell, and its scales have been used to create perfume by some cultures. Other common names for Warren’s girdled lizard include militia and militia. 

These lizards live in the Cape Province of South Africa. They can be found from Port Elizabeth up to Stutterheim. 

These types of lizards in South Africa can grow up to eight inches long. However, their average length is five inches long. Females lay eggs every three months during the breeding season.

23. Zoutpansberg Girdled Lizard

Keeping track can be challenging with so many different types of lizards in South Africa. One type is Zoutpansberg girdled lizard which has been listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

It’s found exclusively in South Africa and can grow up to 16 inches long. Their tails make up nearly a third of their body length.

They sometimes eat ants, termites, spiders, and other insects to supplement their diet with eggs and carrion. These lizards are territorial, so that they may chase any invader away from their territory with head-bobbing behavior or tracking.

Conclusion

Before visiting, it’s a good idea to know about some of the different types of lizards in South Africa. Hopefully, you will be able to identify them and have fun looking for them during your stay. For example, the many-banded plated lizard is usually found on tree trunks and fences. 

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