Uromastyx, Uromastyx sp., care sheet
The Uromastyx is one of the lesser-known pet lizards, sometimes known as spiny-tailed lizards, dabb lizards or nicknamed "uros." They have a spikey tail and a tortoise-like head. Their popularity is mostly among slightly more experienced reptile keepers as beginners will usually opt for a cheaper reptile such as a bearded dragon.
They are quite similar to the more well known bearded dragons in terms of their requirements - they are a desert lizard that requires a high UV and should be kept at a slightly higher temperature than a beardie.
Uros should be given an exclusively vegetarian diet although some will note they clearly enjoy live food. They don't need very much water and can usually take what they need from their diet.
There are around 15 different species of Uromastyx with them most commonly found in Northern Africa and the Middle East but also stretching across central Asia and into India.
The size varies depending on the species, varying from about eight inches to two feet.
Like a bearded dragon, they are best kept in a medium to large vivarium. But with this lizard you should also allow them to burrow so substrate like Desert Bedding is ideal because it simulates the savannah floor that the Uro calls home. You could also use a mixture of sand and clay.
A Uro likes plenty of places to hide so consider reptile caves, coco caves and wooden vivarium decor.
Aim for a daytime temperature of 85-90F, a basking spot of 98-115F and a nighttime temperature no lower than 75F.
For lighting and heating, the contents of our bearded dragon starter kit is a pretty good guide.
Uromastyxs’ diets are mostly vegetarian (herbivorous) so you can feed them dandelion greens and bok choy. Greens like lettuce don't have much nutritional value but are a good source of water. Many experts advise avoiding dark greens like spnach, chard and flowering kale as the oxalates prevent the intake of calcium into the bloodstream.
Many uro keepers will recommend a strictly vegetarian diet noting that lots of protein is damaging to the lizard's liver while other keepers note than a few crickets as an occasional treat will be enjoyed by the uro. On balance it is probably best to stick the veggies - just because a reptile may enjoy a food doesn't mean it's good for them. An analogy may be humans with cigarettes - they may enjoy them but the long term effects are harmful.
Uros are a very easy-going lizard. They are docile, placid and will only bite when they feel threatened - and they usually give "fair warning" before biting.