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Emperor Flat Rock Lizard

Platysaurus imperator


Cordylidae, African spiny tailed lizard family

Conservation Status:

Vulnerable, IUCN


Northeastern Zimbabwe and the adjacent part of Mozambique.


Rocky areas of mesic savannah


Their eyes are placed high on the head to allow them to hide behind rocks and still watch out for predators.

Females and juveniles are black and have three light cream stripes, which are yellow on the head, running down the lizard’s back. The middle stripe is narrow and broken near the rear, and the tail is straw-colored. The throat is white, while the belly is mainly black. Adult males have a yellow head and a dark red body with several large, whitish spots anteriorly. These pale spots are yellowish near the tail. The limbs are black, while the throat is dark red with a thick black collar. The chest is reddish or yellowish while the tail is orange to light yellow below. Like the females and juveniles, the belly is black.

A large male Emperor flat lizard and several attendant females command the tops of huge boulders on hills, where they feed on beetles, grubs, and ants. They are approximately 8” long.

They are very fast and have long toes that work great for running around the rock outcroppings. They also have a relatively flat body shape to allow them to fit between rocks for protection.

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