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4 Care Tips for Uromastyx aka Spiny-Tailed Lizards

Learn four tips for how to take care of a uromastyx, aka a spiny-tailed lizard, from reptile and amphibian expert Jungle Bob in this Howcast video.


Lizards are a popular reptile pet for sure. There's such a variety to choose from out there. Oftentimes, lizards are insectivores. They like to eat crickets, and oftentimes, parents say, "No way." Particularly mommies. "That's where I'm drawing the line. I don't want crickets chirping in my house. I don't want crickets escaping in my house." It sometimes kills the mood of getting a new pet lizard.

So, we turn them on to animals that don't need to eat those types of things. Certainly a baby Uromastyx would make a meal of a cricket, but primarily Uromastyx are vegan, right? They just their veggies, and they want lots of them. They eat piles of greens per day. It's very, very healthy for them, and therefore they are very easy to keep. No one is upset with animals eating the vegetables.

If there's a problem with the animal, it's that it comes from the northern part of the Sahara desert, and it is really hot there. So, when most lizards would be happy with 90 degree temperatures, the Uromastyx is a sun worshiper. He wants to be in a hot spot, up to 120 to 125 degrees. That helps him digest his food. He tolerates that, when most lizards would perish at that temperature.

But, like all lizards and reptiles, he needs to thermoregulate his body temperature. He has to get out of the heat when he wants to. He's cold-blooded, but that doesn't mean his blood is cold if we cut him. That means whatever the temperature of the environment he's in, that's the temperature he becomes.

So, he sits on a rock, basks for a while, and gets his body temperature way up. That helps him digest, but then when he gets too hot, does he sweat to cool off like humans do? No, reptiles can't do that. He's got to find a cooler, hopefully darker, place to get out of the sun for a little while. That's where he runs to. He runs to rocky crevices.

In captivity, we give him, to the far left or far right of the tank, a really hot basking spot, with a lot of rock. On the other side, rocks again, but as cool, and as close to room temperature, as we could make it for him.

They make wonderful captive subjects in a desert terrarium, which is really fun to keep because of the easy nature of cleaning up after the animal. When it's in the 125 degree temperatures, his defecation clears up really fast.

So, the Uromastyx is mild-tempered, and is that animal for the people who do not want to deal with insects. The Uromastyx is a straight vegetarian, and a wonderful animal. You can make a beautiful terrarium with the desert products that are available today.

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