A small, striped reptile, the Yellow Lizard is native to Southern Africa. With its flattened, scaled body and timid nature, the lizard makes a good pet. This skilled diver and swimmer likes to bathe in the sun and eat small insects.
Fully named the Yellow-throated Plated Lizard, Plated Lizard, or, scientifically, Gerrhosaurus flavigularis, the yellow lizard can grow from 16 to 28 inches in length (41 to 71 centimeters) and two to four inches (five to ten centimeters) in width. These lizards are fairly stout reptiles, with their small legs and barely noticeable necks. Their tails, however, are long, often measuring twice the lengthy of their bodies.
The plates that the lizard is named after are featured all over its body. The Yellow Lizard features rectangular scales and deep folds of skin, which allow it to grow. The lizards' tongues are wide and forked. Though generally calm animals, when threatened they have been known to bite.
Colorations of Yellow Lizards vary. While the most common shade of the reptile is a dull brown marked with two yellow stripes running down the backside, the lizards can also be greenish-gray in overall body color. White underbellies are also common. During mating, male Plated Lizards change head color. This can range from pale blue, to bright red, to a vivid yellow.
Mating, which occurs only once per year, happens during the summer months. Female Yellow Lizards lay two to six leathery, oval eggs underground. Yellow lizard hatchlings are very small and resemble full-grown lizards in coloration and appearance.
Yellow Lizards prefer rocky, mountainous areas that are dry and open. Most commonly found in Sudan and Ethiopia, their population in the wild is unknown. Plated lizards live in termite mounds and burrows, basking in the sun during the day in order to maintain their body temperature. Preferring flies as their main source of food, the Yellow Lizard will also eat fruit, crickets, beetles, caterpillars, meal worms, and earthworms.
Plated lizards are not considered very good diggers. For this reason, they typically tunnel their habitats following a rain, when the ground is soft. The lizard primarily hunts during the night, and retreats to its burrow if threatened.
Like the anole, skink, gecko, and many other types of lizards, the Yellow Lizard is a popular choice of pet. They are considered relatively easy to care for, and will usually thrive if provided with a lizard cage, fresh lizard food, water, fruit, and a basking area.
For a pet lizard of this species, a 20-gallon (76-liter) aquarium is considered a minimum requirement. As the lizard grows, it will need a larger home. The arid tanks should contain up to four inches (10 centimeters) of sand, branches and bark for basking, supported rocks to climb on, and a large bowl of clean water. The enclosure should be secure yet well-ventilated, with a proper basking lighting system. A pet shop employee can help in selecting this equipment.