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Thread: Uromastyx

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    General Uromastyx Care Sheet
    By: Pam Gross

    Thanks to Uro-Land.Net for this article.

    Uromastyx are agamid lizards belonging to the same family as bearded, frilled
    and water dragons. There are many species of uromastyx all adapted to arid regions from Asia, India, the Arabian Peninsula and the Sahara of Africa. Although many dedicated breeders are working hard to create captive bred uromastyx, it is only with limited success with the majority of species. Most uromastyx will be wild caught specimens. They have a vast size range from a smaller species such as the Hardwicki to the very large Egyptian which can get 3 feet long. They have many color patterns with the rarer, more colorful species having the higher prices.

    Generally they are pleasant natured and not prone to biting, but do be aware they do have teeth and can bite if they feel threatened. (Most would sooner retreat to safety) Their biggest defense when you first get them is the tail whipping which can cut up the sides of your wrists if you are holding them, especially with a large uro. Eventually they should calm down and you will not see this behavior too often. Lizards are territorial creatures usually living a fairly solitary life unless looking for a mate. Two males should not be housed together as eventually aggression will occur. If you want to keep more than one in the same enclosure, one male and two females usually works the best. Most books and breeders suggest separate housing for uros, one per cage.

    The enclosure can be glass, wood or Plexiglas and needs a ventilated top or have side vents. The cage size should be 4 times the length and width of the adult uro. It does not have to be very high as they are not big climbers. I have noticed that mine love the silk trees and do climb on them and look through the leaves, quite a comical sight. A large cage of 48-60" long works well. The cage should be covered on three sides if you are using a glass aquarium as they do need privacy. I use the fish tank backgrounds with lots of greenery or a desert look to them. It gives the tank a nice look and provides privacy as well. Do not be alarmed if you see your uro climbing the sides of the glass and scratching all the time. They do not understand glass and are trying to get to the other side. You can put some cage decorations along the front to help discourage some of this if you want. You also need a basking flat rock placed under the basking light so they can lay on that to warm up. DO NOT use heated rocks under any circumstance! They need both UVA/UVB lighting as well as a basking spot that reaches 110-130 degrees! The enclosure needs to be of adequate size that they can retreat to a cooler area, around 80-85 degrees, as the lizards being cold-blooded need to thermo regulate.

    Each lizard needs a hiding spot. You can use ceramic caves, half tree cutouts or use a Rubbermaid storage box with a hole cut in the side. Uros love to tunnel so you can actually use flexible dryer venting and make a tunnel that goes into the Rubbermaid box. You should have at least 2-3 thermometers or a temp gun to monitor your enclosure. It is best if you have a timer that keeps your lights on 10-12 hours per day in winter and 14 hours in summer. The temperature should go down at night as it would in the desert to the mid 60's in the winter to the mid 70's in the summer. When using the UVA/UVB lights, mark the purchase date on them. The UVA/UVB properties only last 6 months so even though the lights work they will need to be replaced.. Both Zoo-Med and T-Rex have come out with UVA/UVB heat bulbs all in one. They are costly, but you only need one light and one fixture. What I have found however, is that on a long cage you still need some type of auxiliary light otherwise the cage is just too dark.

    Substrate is another issue altogether. There is so much controversy about which to use. Pet shops have the desert litter, which are crushed walnut shells, calci-sand, repti-sand, lizard litter, rabbit pellets and countless more choices. Uros have the tendency to throw their food around so will ingest substrate along with their food. There have been many cases of impaction and intestinal perforation upon necropsy due to some of these substrates. DO NOT USE WALNUT SHELLS!! I, personally, have relied on a long-term breeders suggestion of using plain white or red millet birdseed as substrate. If they eat it, it does no harm and if it gets wet it sprouts, not molds. Many people buy regular play sand and either use it alone or mix it with peat. This is very inexpensive and many uro people swear by it. You will read so much conflicting information in this regard, use your best judgment for your pet's safety!

    Basically, uromastyx are herbivores with a few insects thrown in occasionally. Buy top quality vegetables as if you were eating them yourself. NO iceberg lettuce or cabbage. Use romaine, red or green leaf lettuce sparingly, carrot tops, turnip greens, bok choy, napa cabbage (not a true cabbage), collard greens, dandelion greens, thawed mixed veggies (peas, green beans, carrots, corn, lima beans) and mustard greens. Limit kale and spinach as they bind vitamin absorption. There are many flowers that uros just love, especially dandelions and hibiscus. There are many information sheets available on the Internet that list safe flowers that you can use. Wash all greens well before using and cut veggies up small or use a food processor for very small animals. Fruits should be used sparingly or not at all. Dust the veggie mix 3 times per week with rep-cal and herptivite. Too many vitamins are not good either! Waxworms, crickets or superworms can be used only as an occasional treat, 1 or 2 times a month.

    Generally you do not need any type of water dish in the enclosure. By making sure all of the veggies are well washed, they derive their water from the greens. You can also spray them just before feeding to add a little extra water. There are some species of uros that will drink from a dish, but the vast majority will not.

    If you purchase a wild caught, it is best to not bother them and be very quiet around them when you first get them so they have as little stress as possible and have the opportunity to properly acclimate. It does take time, sometimes many months before they come around. Some of the first signs of them being more comfortable is when you open the cage they don't immediately retreat. Always talk quietly to them when you are doing something so they start to recognize your voice. If you pick them up, sometimes it is better to hold them against you with your hand over their back (so they won't fall) as they feel more secure than sitting across your palm. Eventually they will tilt their heads to the side when you talk to them and eat from your hands. Although each uro is different (just like people) most will become friendly if given the proper care and handling. After they are feeding well and in good weight have a fecal done by a reputable reptile vet for worming. Worming a stressed out, dehydrated uro could do more harm then good. BUT, if your uro looks sick, seek veterinary attention immediately! Reptiles go down hill fast!

    There are many resources out there and they all have a little different information. Read, read, read, extrapolate the best information and put it to use. I am by no means an
    expert, just the “mom” to many fantastic uros. This information has come from my personal experience mixed with lots of reading from many resources. Every situation and every animal is different and new owners will have to take all of this into account. Uromastyx are marvelous animals with lots of personality. I have five different species and enjoy each one of them. I’m sure you’ll be happy you chose a uro for a pet. I hope you may find some of this information to be useful.

    Here are a few sites you may find helpful: (caresheets)



    Last edited by Admin; 08-19-2010 at 11:30 AM.

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