Uromastyx is a genus of cold-blooded lizards that originate from Africa and the Middle East. They are often called spiny-tailed lizards because of the spikes on their tails.
Do you want to give one of these lizards a home but aren’t sure how to care for a uromastyx?
Then look no further as you will find a detailed uromastyx lizard care sheet in this very article.
Uromastyx lizards live for 25 to 60 years. Feed your leafy greens every day as well as legumes and seeds. Its enclosure must measure at least 48 x 18 inches. The temperature at the basking spot must be between 110 and 120°F. Keep the environment between 10 and 25% humidity.
Do uromastyx brumate? What is the best substrate material for this reptile?
To find the answers to these questions and more, check out our complete care guide below.
Table of Contents
Uromastyx Care Guide
Uromastyx (uromastyx sp) is a genus of cold-blooded herbivores that also go by the name of spiny-tailed lizards and dabb lizards. The uromastyx lizard has spiked scales on its tail and that is why it is called the spiny-tailed lizard.
Uromastyx lizards vary widely and there are 13 different species of them.
The Egyptian uromastyx is the biggest species as it grows to over 36 inches in length. Uromastyx harwicki is the smallest of the species and measures just 10 inches in length.
Up next in this article, you will find our uromastyx care sheet. In it, you will discover everything you must know about feeding, housing, and keeping a careful eye on your lizard pet.
Uromastyx Natural Habitat
Uromastyx lizards are native to countries in Africa and the Middle East.
Where is the uromastyx habitat?
Uromastyx lizards love spending time hiding in underground chambers. In their natural habitat, they often run into these chambers when they feel threatened.
These lizards also spend a lot of time basking in the sun. They like to live in areas that are hilly and rocky and where they can find lots of yummy vegetation.
The uromastyx has the potential to live for a very long time as long as you look after it properly. If you tend well to its feeding and environmental needs, it can live for decades, even longer in captivity than in the wild.
What is the uromastyx life expectancy?
The life expectancy of a uromastyx lizard is 25 to 60 years. Yes, this pet will live for a very long time.
An important part of administering the proper uromastyx lizard care is ensuring you will be able to look after this animal during its entire life.
Uromastyx Lizards Food
Another important factor in uromastyx care is what you feed it. These lizards live in places where they can readily find the vegetation they like.
What does their diet consist of?
All species of uromastyx are herbivores. They must eat a varied diet including fruits, vegetables, legumes, and seeds.
You must make your lizard's diet up of mostly leafy greens and plants. These include the following.
- Dandelion greens
- Turnip greens
- Collard greens
Feed your lizard these greens every day.
Pulses and seeds are also important uromastyx food. Here is a list of the ones that are suitable for these reptiles.
- Dried peas
Give your lizards these pulses and seeds almost every day.
Here are some of the fruits it can eat.
Fruit must not make up a big part of your uromastyx lizard’s diet. One piece of fruit per week is enough as fruits are high in sugar.
Next on this uromastyx care sheet is your lizard’s water needs. Uromastyx lizards get most of the water they need from the vegetation they consume in their diet.
Do you need to give your lizard a water bowl?
You must give your lizard access to a shallow water dish at all times. Give it fresh water to drink every day.
Uromastyx Enclosure Size
You must have your uromastyx habitat setup before you take your pet home. These reptiles have very specific housing needs that you must adhere to for your lizard to survive.
How big must the enclosure be?
Lizards measuring up to 15 inches long must be in an enclosure that is at least 48×18 inches. Lizards that measure over 15 inches need a 72 x 24-inch enclosure.
These enclosure sizes are minimums, bigger is always better. If you have room for a larger enclosure for your pet, make sure you get it.
When learning how to take care of a uromastyx, you must take note of its substrate needs.
What kind of substrate material is good for this reptile?
The best substrate for these lizards is reptile carpet.
In the wild, these animals walk on rocky and sandy surfaces. Because of this, some people think that they thrive on a sterilized play sand substrate in captivity but this is not the case.
Sand is a dangerous substrate material for these reptiles, as it can cause respiratory issues that lead to respiratory infections. Wood chips and dirt substrates are also dangerous for these animals because they often ingest them and this leads to impaction.
Reptile carpet is the best option for these animals, as it is nice and soft, is easy to wash, and cannot be ingested.
We know you will do everything in your power to make your lizard feel at home in its new environment.
What can you use to make the tank more appealing on the inside?
Rock ledges and large tiles can make awesome basking platforms for your lizard. Make sure that the platforms are sturdy and that they sit directly under the basking bulb.
Caves are also important for these reptiles as one of their most common natural behaviors is hiding. Providing caves for your reptile to hide under will help them take shelter whenever they want to.
Although uromastyx are true terrestrial lizards, they also love to spend time climbing. To tend to this need, they must have things in their cages that they can climb onto.
Put a couple of sturdy logs into your terrarium so your lizard can climb up onto them. Your lizard will also love to climb on an artificial grapevine.
You must make sure that everything in the cage is secure for your reptile to climb on. If it is not, it could have an accident.
You must also be cautious when choosing natural rocks for a basking platform. Natural rocks can heat up very quickly and reach very high temperatures.
Measure the temperature of the rock under a heat lamp before putting it in your terrarium and allowing your reptile to climb on it.
Uromastyx Caging Temperature
The uromastyx lizard likes the arid climates it would experience in the desert. Its enclosure must reflect those conditions.
How hot must it be?
The cool zone temperature of the uromastyx’s enclosure must be between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The warm zone must be between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
You must use thermometers or a temperature gun to ensure the environment inside the enclosure remains optimum for the lizard. If it is too cold, the lizard will soon get sick.
The humidity levels in your lizard’s enclosure must match those it is used to in the wild.
How humid must it be?
The humidity levels must stay between 10 and 25%.
Uromastyx like the hot and dry heat of the desert conditions they would usually face in the wild. If there is too much humidity in the enclosure the lizard can die.
Your lizard must also have access to a burrow box inside its enclosure. The burrow box must reach 40 to 45% humidity.
You must note that some species of uromastyx like to live in a more humid environment than others. More coastal uromastyx species prefer high humidity levels of up to 50%.
Since some species of uromastyx like it so humid, occasional nighttime misting is beneficial to tend to this reptile’s needs. But for most uromastyx, the humidity must stay low throughout the day and night.
Basking Surface Temperature
The uromastyx lizard is a cold-blooded animal. This means it has to move around the different temperature zones in its enclosure to regulate its body temperature.
What basking temperature is right for your uromastyx’s enclosure?
The ideal basking temperatures are between 110 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. A thermometer in the basking area will passively track basking temperature and help you to tweak it when necessary.
To get the basking area to such high temperatures, you will need powerful reptile UVB lighting.
UVB Lamp and Bulbs
The uromastyx lizard is cold-blooded and relies on the varying temperatures in its enclosure to raise its body temperature.
What will help you heat the enclosure as your lizard likes it?
To ensure your lizard is warm enough, you will need the appropriate UVB light. You will find good uromastyx lighting and UVB lamp solutions at large pet stores.
You must change the bulb in your heat lamp every 6 months to ensure it is working to its full potential.
Many reptile owners use a halogen heat lamp to heat the basking surface in their enclosure as this lamp can deliver a lot of heat over a wide surface area.
An important part of good husbandry is keeping your lizard’s enclosure clean.
How often does it need cleaning?
You must spot-clean the enclosure every day. Remove feces from the terrarium, wipe away urine, and take out any uneaten food.
As a good habit, change the water in the lizard’s bowl every time you spot-clean the cage. Disinfect the bowl because the reptile may have defecated in it.
You must thoroughly clean the enclosure once a week. This means taking everything out of the cage and disinfecting it.
Once you have disinfected everything inside the terrarium, you must also clean the enclosure itself. Dry it properly before putting your pet back inside.
Always clean the cage during the day so your lizard can get back in the warm and heat itself up again before the night comes.
Always wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning your pet’s terrarium or touching the lizard.
Uromastyx lizards are sensitive animals that will quickly get sick and die if you do not give them the proper care they need.
What are the most common ailments among captive-bred uromastyx?
- Metabolic bone disease. Uromastyx lizards that do not have enough exposure to UVB rays are likely to suffer from this. Setting up their basking area correctly and feeding your lizard calcium supplements can prevent it. Add a calcium supplement in the form of powder onto the top of its greens once a week.
- Tail rot. This occurs when your pet is in an environment that is too humid. Make sure the humidity is not too high for your specific species.
- Respiratory infections. These occur when the environment inside the enclosure irritates the lizard. Use reptile carpet instead of natural substrate materials to prevent this from happening.
You must take a sick or wounded uromastyx to an exotic vet as soon as possible, as these animals are sensitive and need immediate care. We recommend taking out a care plan, as visits to the vet are expensive and treatment is too.
The uromastyx lizard thrives in the warm weather.
Do uromastyx hibernate?
The sun-loving uromastyx will brumate during the winter months. They slow right down and eat a lot less for about 2 to 4 months a year in the wild.
When do uromastyx brumate in captivity?
A lizard in captivity should not brumate because the temperatures in the enclosure must be high enough to keep the uromastyx warm all throughout the year. If your lizard brumates, this could be an indication that something is wrong.
Housing Multiple Uromastyx
Once you take your lizard home you will fall in love with all of the interesting things there are to find out about it and its habits. You might even feel like one uromastyx lizard isn’t enough.
Can two of them live in the same enclosure?
It is best you keep your lizard on its own as you cannot guarantee that it will get along with another tank mate. But if you really want to house multiple reptiles, consider the following.
- A pair of lizards usually get on well.
- A male and several females get on well.
- Do not house multiple males together.
- If you put a different sex pair together, they will mate.
Uromastyx Overall Care
So, we’ve considered a lot of information today about how to best look after these lizards.
Are uromastyx easy to take care of?
They are easy to take care of as they are quiet, entertain themselves, and do not thrive on human attention. They are also easy to feed and do not need bathing.
However, these reptiles are often challenging simply because they are not common pets, so it is more expensive to find a vet who will see them. Kitting out a terrarium is also pricey because the lizard needs a number of different temperatures to feel comfortable.
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to adopting this animal is its longevity. You must prepare to give the reptile good husbandry throughout its entire life, potentially up to 60 years!
Fun Facts About the Uromastyx Species
The reptile community loves uromastyx lizards and gets a buzz out of finding out new information about them. If you love reptiles as much as we do, you will really enjoy this next section.
We are going to list some of our favorite facts about these lizards in general and some facts about housing them and good husbandry.
- The average size of an adult uromastyx is between 10 and 18 inches.
- You must never feed these lizards a high-protein diet as this is thought to be one of the leading causes of death in this reptile.
- The spiny-tailed lizard must live in a low-humidity environment but certain coastal uromastyx species must live in environments with much higher humidity.
- The ornate uromastyx (sometimes called uromastyx ornatus)is one of the most colorful of all the species. The tops of their bodies are greeny-yellow. The males have green, yellow, and blue or red colors on their backs in the form of spots or bands. The females also display beautiful colors but they are not as prominent.
- There are many different uromastyx morphs that are all different colors. Some of the morphs have splashes of color in dots, others in stripes. Some are lightly colored while they are babies and juveniles but develop into brighter colors as they get older.
- These reptiles are very docile and often enjoy attention. Uromastyx handling does not in any way compare to the interest you would get from a dog or cat, but they can warm up to their owners and enjoy their presence. When a uromastyx regularly takes food from its owner’s hands, it will get used to it faster.
Summing Up Spiny-Tailed Lizards
The uromastyx are not the most common animals in the pet trade which is why it is often tricky to find out how to look after them. But thanks to the care guide in this article, we have seen everything you must do to give them the best care.
You must put your lizard in a 48 x 18-inch terrarium equipped with UVB lamps set to 80 to 85°F on the cool side and between 90 and 100°F on the warm side. The basking spot must be between 110 and 120°F.
Feed your lizard a balanced diet including vegetables, legumes, seeds, and fruits, and make sure it always has access to fresh water. Lay reptile carpet inside the terrarium and clean the entire unit once a week.
Did you find this article interesting?
At Oddly Cute Pets, we always provide you with the best articles about the care of uromastyx lizards, bearded dragons, and other reptiles. For more information on feeding your lizard or any other small pet, check out our website.
Thanks for reading!