With its thorny exterior and unique defenses, the armadillo lizard might be both one of nature’s cutest and one of its most eccentric reptiles. Just as its animal namesake implies, these lizards have sharp armor-like features along their bodies and are known to curl up when they feel threatened just like armadillos. But this impressive built-in armor is not the only fascinating characteristic of the armadillo lizard.

Ouroborus cataphractus can stay in a curled position for up to an hour

Armadillo lizards hide in large family groups among the rock crevices in South Africa’s desert to shield themselves from the area’s harsh elements and predators. They love to sunbathe under the warmth of the sun and are one of the few reptile species that do not reproduce by laying eggs.

An armadillo lizard’s backside is completely covered in spikey armor

Armadillo lizards have a variety of coloring, which ranges between brown to light yellowish brown. This species of lizard is easy to recognize because its body is covered in sharp heavy spines from head to tail; the only part of their body that is not covered in thorny skin is the underside. That is why these lizards curl up when they go into defense mode. If it feels threatened, an armadillo lizard will curl itself into a ball until its mouth is biting the end of its tail.

Though they are slow-moving, these lizards compensate with a body of armour-like spikes

Once it is in this curled-up position, the other parts of its body automatically act as a layer of protection to its soft exposed belly. They can stay in this balled-up position for up to an hour. The armadillo lizard’s unique defense keeps it safe from predators like snakes, big birds, and mongoose.

These dragon-like creatures can grow to about four inches in length for both males and females and can live up to a little over a decade.