What are the Different Types of Flat Lizard?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

Bold, bright coloration makes the common flat lizard, a small reptile with nine subspecies, a well-liked animal. The lizard is a rainbow of color, with different hues making up each of its body sections. Scientifically known as the Platysaurus intermedius, the animal lives in southern Africa, and is a member of the Cordylidae family.

The blue-tailed skink is a flat lizard.
The blue-tailed skink is a flat lizard.

Flat lizards are so vividly colored that they almost look like something from a fairy tale. Each subspecies is represented with its own unique array of colors. A male flat lizard might have a blue or green head with a yellow midsection, orange and yellow tail, yellow arms, and a blue underbelly. Female lizards, as well as juveniles of the species, are not as brightly colored. They typically have black scales, brown bellies, and white stripes on their backs.

The lizards live in colonies, some of which can be very large. They prefer weathering, or exfoliating, rocks made from quartzite, granite, or sandstone. Most of these lizards can be found in moist savannahs throughout Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Mpumalanga, Botswana, Malawi, KwaZulu-Natal, and Mozambique.

Each flat lizard's size depends upon its subspecies. The largest flat lizard can grow up to five inches (12 centimeters) in length, while smaller subspecies may only grow up to three inches (seven centimeters). New hatchlings, which hatch in late December to early January, measure up to one and one-half inches (nearly four centimeters) in length.

Hatchlings are laid in communal egg sites. Each flat lizard colony shares one of these sites, which typically exist in a warm rock crevice. A pair of eggs, which are oval-shaped, are usually laid per female flat lizard.

If kept in captivity, flat lizards can live for up to three years. Considered exotic pets, flat rock lizards are the most widely distributed of all Platyasaurus animals. They are moderately priced, and like other lizards as pets such as the gecko, anole, and skink, they require a lizard cage, heating bulb, fresh water, and appropriate food. This food can usually be satisfied through a combination of nutritious store bought lizard food and fresh live insects.

Of the subspecies of flat lizard, rhodesianus is the largest. Some males of this species feature red heads. The nigrescens subspecies has yellow scales, an orange tale, and a black head, while the subniger lizard is largely dark green and features white spots. Other subspecies include the wilhelmi, parvus, iopinus, intermedius, nyasae, and natalensis.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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