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Cordylus giganteus
Family: Cordylidae
Adult Size: 8 to 12 inches

South Africa

Habitat: Arid grasslands and semi-deserts
Captive Lifespan: More than 20 Years
Care Level: Advanced


This regal lizard was once common in the pet trade, but nowadays is a rarity and highly desired. A mild temperament and hardy nature makes the sungazer a hardy captive if specimens can be located.

Sungazers excavate burrows in open areas and shelter in them at night. Each morning, they poke their heads out and come out if it’s sunny. Their usual posture includes holding the head up and alert – certainly what earned them their vernacular name. The typical warm-up period is followed by an active time of exploring the surroundings of the burrow for insects, the mainstay of their diet.

The body spines of sungazers are sharp, but are not a problem during gentle handling. The tail is most heavily adorned and used as a defensive measure to block the burrow entrance against predators like snakes.

Water can be offered on a weekly basis in the form of a shallow soaking tray. Remove it after a day so it doesn’t get soiled and germy. Sungazers will thrive in a well-ventilated cage. They benefit greatly by a hot lamp that creates an intense hotspot at one end of the enclosure.