Best Substrate For Uromastyx (& The Worst)

Uromastyx are a genus of spiny-tailed lizards that are native to Northern Africa and parts of the Middle East. Uromastyx live in rock outcrops in the wild.

When setting up your uromastyx’s tank for the first time you may wonder…

What is the best substrate for uromastyx?

You’ll find a list of some of the best (and worst) substrate options out there in this article.

Key Takeaway:

The best substrate options for uromastyx lizards are reptile carpet and paper towels. Sand and loose substrate are not good for your uromastyx’s enclosure as your pet can swallow them, which can lead to impaction. These materials also tend to be dusty and affect the lizard’s respiratory system.

What are the most popular substrate materials, and which should you avoid?

Take a look at them all up next in this article.

best substrate uromastyx

Best Substrate for Uromastyx

We all want our uromastyx reptiles (uromastyx sp.) to live in a comfortable, safe environment. The type of substrate you choose can make your terrarium look more cozy and will also make your pet feel more at home.

But not every substrate material that is advertised to be uromastyx friendly is good for them. That’s why coming up next in this article, we have listed the very best substrate options followed by some that are not good options at all.

Reptile Carpet

We all want to create the coziest and the best environment for our reptiles, and that’s why we’re going to start off listing the best uromastyx substrate.

What is the best substrate for uromastyx tank?

Reptile carpet is the best substrate option. Here are some of the benefits of using it.

  • Your pet will not ingest it. It is better for your pet’s health.
  • It is easy to clean and is reusable. Simply lift it up to remove it from the terrarium and wash it.
  • It is soft and non-abrasive. It will not harm your pet’s feet.
  • It is easy to resize. Cut it to size so it will fit your terrarium.
Reptile carpet is the best substrate for uromastyx lizards, not just because it makes your life easier but also because it is safer for your pet. Your pet will not accidentally ingest the carpet and end up with the many complications that come with a loose substrate.

Paper Towel

Kitting out your terrarium for the first time is often expensive. Your choice of substrate can help bring the price down.

What is an economical substrate option?

Paper towels are great for several reasons.

  • Paper towels are absorbent. They will absorb urine and prevent the whole terrarium from getting messy.
  • Paper towels are inexpensive. They do not need to be of high quality as they are only for lining the bottom of the terrarium.
  • You do not need to clean them. Throw them away when the terrarium needs cleaning. Remove each soiled paper towel when spot-cleaning the enclosure each day.
  • They are easy to replace. Put new pieces of paper towel down in next to no time.

Bad Uromastyx Substrate Options

Now we’ve seen the best substrate options out there, let’s take a closer look at some of the options that are not so good and find out what’s wrong with them.

uromastyx substrate options

Fine Sand

Is washed play sand good uromastyx substrate?

Although these lizards are surrounded by sand in their native habitat, play sand is not a good substrate material for captive pets.

Here are some of the reasons why it is so dangerous.

  • Uromastyx in captivity often swallow play sand. The very fine sand when ingested, might lead to complications such as constipation. Some companies sell sand made from calcium carbonate, which is supposed to reduce impaction if your reptile swallows it. But this sand still makes some lizards have digestion issues.
  • The dust from pure sand is also dangerous to this species’ health. Many reptiles develop respiratory issues as a result of the dust from play and even calcium sand.
  • Natural sand contains impurities. If you collect yours from the beach, you could end up with sharp-edged sand filled with glass and other bits of debris. Natural sand is just as dangerous as play sand, and you must avoid it.

Loose Substrate

To give the best care possible to your uromastyx lizard, you must put it on the right substrate material.

Is loose substrate such as wood shavings or sandy soil good for a uromastyx pet?

Unfortunately, most loose or natural substrates are not suitable for this reptile pet. Here are the reasons why.

  • Your pet could swallow it. The danger with any small pieces of substrate is that your pet could swallow it and then end up with digestion issues such as constipation.
  • It is dusty. Exo terra and other soil-like substrates tend to be dusty. Because of the closed environment in a terrarium, the dust has nowhere to go and this affects the respiratory system of your pet. Many lizards with loose substrate suffer from respiratory illnesses.

DIY Desert Mix

To save money, some people like to make up their own desert mix and lay that as substrate inside their uromastyx’s tank.

What does a DIY mix consist of?

It is usually a mix of the following materials.

  • Sand
  • Topsoil
  • Clay

Although making your own desert mix will help you save money, it is not a good idea for your uromastyx’s health.

Using your own sand is dangerous as it is full of impurities. As we mentioned before, lizards are prone to swallowing soil and sand, and these materials when ingested, can really make your uromastyx sick.

Walnut Shells

Some people like to use walnut shells as a substrate material because they look very natural and promote digging behaviors that are essential for uromastyx. The shells are also good conductors of heat and help keep your uromastyx warm.

But is this really a good substrate material?

Unfortunately, this is not a good material. As with other loose substrates, uromastyx are prone to swallowing the small nut shells, and this can cause impaction in these animals.

This material is often dusty and can have a negative effect on your pet's respiratory system. Not only is it bad for your pet's health, but it is also very messy.

Uromastyx Lizards Basking Surface

The sun-loving uromastyx must have a basking spot in its enclosure so that it can bask all day like it would in its natural habitat. Setting up your basking area at the right temperature and with the right substrate is very important.

Up next, we are going to take you through setting up a basking area for your pet uromastyx.

Basking Platform

You must choose the right basking platform for your uromastyx. Here are some of the requirements for the platform.

  • The platform must be long and wide. You want your lizard to have enough room to really relax on it.
  • The platform must be directly under the reptile UVB lighting. Your lizard must have access to enough UVB light to prevent illnesses such as metabolic bone disease.
  • The platform must be sturdy. Your pet must be able to climb on and off of it without endangering itself.
  • It must be made of the right material. Unglazed tiles are very effective. Some natural rocks heat up very quickly and become extremely hot under a UVB lamp. It is important you measure the temperature of a natural platform under the lamp before you put it in the enclosure. Alternatively, choose a platform from an exotic pet store or online.

Basking Surface Temperature

The basking temperatures in your basking area must be just right for your pet to absorb the UVB rays it needs. Set your UVB lamp to 110 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Thermometers are handy as they passively track basking temperature to ensure your new pet is not getting cold. A temperature gun is also very effective for immediately reading the temperature of a surface.

The temperature at the basking spot must be high. If your thermometer is not reading high enough temperatures, you will need to get higher-wattage bulbs.

You must change your bulbs once every 6 months to ensure they are working properly.

Outside the basking area, your pet will need a warm zone and a cold zone.

The cool zone temperature must be between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The warm zone temperature must stay between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Uromastyx Species and Substrate Facts

uromastyx species

So far in this article, we have had a closer look at the best substrate options out there for uromastyx. But there are still so many interesting things to learn about this reptile.

Up next, we’ve pooled together all our favorite facts about them and also about their housing needs. Check them out.

Uromastyx General Facts

  • Most adult uromastyx measure between 10 and 18 inches long. The only exception is the Egyptian uromastyx, which is a particularly large species and can grow up to 30 inches long.
  • Uromastyx lizards vary widely in color. The ornate uromastyx has lots of bright colors on it, like greens, yellow, and sometimes blues or reds. These colors are sometimes less prominent on a baby uromastyx but get brighter as it gets older.
  • The females are less colorful than the males, and they also have shorter claws.

Uromastyx Baby Facts

  • Uromastyx eggs incubate for 70 to 80 days before they hatch.
  • Young uromastyx and juveniles are under 10 inches in length. Most uromastyx hatchlings measure only 3 to 4 inches long. They grow rapidly in their first few years of life.

Uromastyx Enclosure Facts

  • Most uromastyx species prefer environments with just 10 to 25% humidity. Coastal uromastyx species prefer higher humidity levels. Some prefer levels of up to 50% humidity.
  • This lizard is cold-blooded, which means it relies on the various temperatures in its enclosure to regulate its own body temperature. This is why your terrarium must have a warm side, a cool side, and a basking spot.
  • Uromastyx are true terrestrial lizards and love to spend time on the ground. But they also like to climb. Make sure your captive-bred uromastyx has a sturdy ledge to climb on in its enclosure.
  • Terrarium decorations play an important role in making your reptile feel safe. Caves and other hideouts are essential for their enclosures.
  • Vets will not often dissuade you from having multiple uromastyx in a cage, but the best pairs are females or one male and multiple females. Do not put two males together.

Uromastyx Feeding Facts

  • These lizards must eat a balanced diet made up mostly of leafy greens and plant food. These include collard greens, cactus, and kale, among many others.
  • Lizards do not show affection like other pets do, but they can still warm up to their owners. If a uromastyx regularly takes food from its owner’s hand, it will become used to it more quickly and will become tame.
  • Uromastyx reptiles need to eat food with vitamins, as vitamin deficiency is a big problem for these pets. Many people sprinkle organic bee pollen powder on their reptile’s food once a week to ensure it gets an extra boost of vitamins C, D, and E.
  • These reptiles get most of the moisture they need through the food they eat. But even still, you must provide your new pet reptile with a shallow water dish from which it can drink.

Summing Up Substrate Choices for Uromastyx

Uromastyx are awesome reptiles that need a lot of special care. Thanks to this article, we have seen some of the ideal substrate options for this species that will help it to live a happy and healthy life.

Some of the top substrate choices are paper towels and reptile carpet. Reptile carpet is especially good as your pet is at no risk of swallowing it.

Did you find this article interesting?

At Oddly Cute Pets, we always strive to provide you with the best articles about reptiles and other pets. For more information on what to feed your reptile and how to avoid common illnesses, check out our website.

Thanks for reading!

Leave a Comment