Basic care for Uromastyx Lizards
From:Basic caresheet for Uromastyx lizards
and edited by Susan Horton, DVM
are very active, heat loving lizards that thrive in a hot, dry desert
environment. A vivarium set up that closely resembles their natural
environment should be provided. A good rule of thumb is to provide a
habitat four times the length equivalent to an adult lizard, and them
some. A maximum cage height of two feet is ideal and a cage depth
minimum of 2 feet (4X2X2). This will provide adequate space for a single
animal or a pair. Colonies need more space and many keepers of this
species custom build enclosures large enough to be considered uro-condos!
These lizards cannot get enough space, so go BIG!
enclosures need good side and top ventilation for airflow. Too much
humidity for these desert animals can be harmful, so a well
ventilated enclosure is crucial.
lizards come from the driest, hottest and most barren parts of the
world. They thrive under extreme conditions unsuitable for a lot of
other lizard species. A good source of full spectrum UV florescent
lighting is important with maximum distance of 18 to 20 inches away
from the animal. A source of UV lighting is crucial for vitamin D3
synthesis and a new bulb should be provided and replaced every
6 to 9 months. The new mercury vapor bulbs provide heat, UVA,
and UVB. THESE BULBS PROVIDE UVB for 3 years. They are
more expensive than the fluorescent bulbs, but well worth it.
heating, a heat element can consist of an incandescent light bulb of
100 to 150 watts, in an aluminum dome utility lamp with a porcelain
socket (for high heat sources). This will be the basking site
heat. The heat should be a safe distance away from the animal
yet have enough wattage to get the basking site to around 110 to 120
degrees Fahrenheit. A good digital thermometer needs to be
implemented in place to determine this. An additional thermometer
needs to be placed at the opposite side of the enclosure to
determine the temperature at the cooler end. This temperature is
ideal in the high 80ís to low 90ís, which is also a good ambient
temperature, or overall cage temperature. A night drop can dip
into the upper 70ís, with light sources turned off.
daylight period should follow the seasonal changes. Less daylight in
winter and longer daylight in the spring and summer months.
Never light an animal 24 hours as this will not allow the
lizard to recharge for proper metabolism and normal function. If
your room temperature dips below 70 degrees at night, an alternate
heat source may be supplemented for some warmth, i.e., a red or
moonlight light bulb or a thermostatically controlled heat pad
allowing temps to stay in the upper 70ís. During the hot summer
months, this is usually not necessary, but more likely needed in the
colder winter months, depending on where you live.
AND CAGE FURNISHINGS:
are several good cage substrates as well as some to definitely
avoid. For large adult animals, playsand is a good, cheap substrate, but
playsand can impact young. It
sould only be used in animals without health problems. Paper
or felt can be used at any life stage.
For babies and young lizards, plain cage liner paper or
felt is best. These need to be changed weekly, spot cleaned daily. Avoid substrates
that can cause impaction and even death. These are sand, walnut shells,
cellulose lizard litter, cat litter, etc. Beware of false claims in
products stating that they wonít impact your animal. When in
doubt, donít buy it!
Some breeders advocate keeping Uromastyx on bird seed
mixtures. The problem with this is that fecal material can
soil these mixtures and be eaten accidentally. Dr. Horton has
seen fatal impactions associated with these litters. This is why
we don't recommend it.
measures need to heed for the health of your lizards. A daily fecal
sweep is important. Clean the tank weekly. Clean soiled or fecal
smeared cage furnishings as needed. Always wash your hands with a
good grade antibacterial soap after you have finished cleaning and
also between cages if you have multiple cages.
furnishings can be sparse to elaborate, depending on your tastes.
Live plants tend to be destroyed or eaten and generally are just too
messy for these active lizards. A large, safe hide box or rock cave
on the cooler end is needed for security for the animal.
Provide a nice, flat rock or ceramic tile under the basking
light for the lizard to bask on, as well as logs and bricks and
rocks to climb on. Always make sure the furnishings are secure and
wonít topple over and hurt or kill your animal. Large rocks need
to be secured so the lizard cannot burrow underneath and
accidentally crush itself to death (personal experience. Heed this
above is a young male yellow saharan uromastyx (Uromastyx geyri).
lizards are primarily herbivorous. An occasional insect feeding is
ok, even on a weekly basis; however the overfeeding of insects can
cause severe health problems, including gout and kidney failure.
Insects should be well gut-loaded and dusted with a calcium/vitamin
supplement prior to feeding. Stick to a primary vegetarian diet for
optimum health. A good varied diet should include turnip greens,
dandelion greens, romaine and escarole lettuce, organic spring
mixes, edible flowers, red clover and other sprouts, mustard greens,
endive, and collards. See our list of healthy shopping for reptiles.
Cabbages and members of the cabbage families,
including broccoli should be avoided, as these are high in oxalates,
which bind calcium. Chopped
apples and firm blueberries can be an occasional treat.
dry blend of seeds and legumes need to be provided in a shallow dish
and refilled as needed. This is an important source for vegetable
protein. A good blend consists of red and green lentils, yellow and
green split peas, millet, sesame seed, bee pollen granules, small
birdseed blend, organic grain cereal and 15 bean soup mix. Important
note: The 15 bean soup mix contains beans that are too large for
your lizard to eat as is, so I recommend purchasing an inexpensive
coffee grinder to grind the soup mix to a coarse mix, which can then
be added to the other seeds and legumes. If you are raising
hatchlings or have very small animals, you can grind the entire seed
blend to a powder-like mix that can be easily ingested by the
if you are providing the above-mentioned foods, your lizards are
getting a good amount of calcium from their food sources. A twice
monthly multivitamin supplement should be given.
Growing lizards should get a calcium supplement twice weekly.
giving you uro a bug or two won't hurt it. Overfeeding
insects, however, can cause health problems. High quality, gut
loaded crickets are fine. Young uromastyx should never
be fed superworms, which are difficult to digest. Offer babies one
or two small crickets weekly, Adults need only be feed crickets once
or twice monthly.
Audry does not recommend a water dish under normal circumstances,
Dr. Horton does prefer to have a small dish of water available at
all times. This is particularly important for young uros,
breeding females, and compromised or sick individuals. A
shallow soaking dish should be provided. Post egg deposition females
will drink gratuitously once they have laid their egg clutches.
Healthy uromastyx will get most of the water they need from
Pictured above are a male (left) and female (right)
Mali uromastyx (Uromastyx maliensis).
new uromastyx should be checked for parasites before being
introduced to your existing colony and in general for it's own well
being. This is done simply by checking a fresh fecal with your
lizard should appear plump and well muscled. If you can see
ribs or bones of the pelvis, this is cause for alarm. A
complete physical should be performed by a reptile
veterinarian. Female lizards will slow down or quit eating
just before egg deposition.
shed skin on the toes or the tail can also be signs of ill
health. These should be gently removed after warm water
soaking. If the skin seems compromised in any way, consult
your reptile vet.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to
provide helpful service to you and your pet. If you have any
questions, give us a call at 847-329-8709.
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