Lizards in the Uromastyx genus are also known as spiny-tailed lizards for one obvious reason: they boast a thick, spicky tail that makes up about one third of their body. The name Uromastyx comes from Ancient Greek words: ourá meaning “tail” and mastigo meaning “whip” or “scourge”.

The Dude - Ornate Uromastyx from moonvalleyreptiles.com
The Dude - Ornate Uromastyx from moonvalleyreptiles.com

Uromastyx lizards are well equipped for the arid regions in which they live. As herbivores, they take advantage of regional vegetation, including seasonal greens, leaves, flowers, buds and seeds, for their vegetarian diet. Uromastyx are distributed throughout North Africa, the Middle East, south-central Asia and India. They are classified in the Agamidae family, which includes Old World & Australasia lizards like bearded dragons, agamas and frilled lizards. This group is a sister family to Iguanidae which includes iguanas and chuckwallas which occupy the New World and Madagascar.

Local names for Uromastyx species are Mastigure and Dabb (or dhab) lizards.

Uromastyx are great pets if you provide appropriate care. There are a surprising number of different species of uros, reflecting the wide range they are native to in the Middle East and Africa. Their genus has been recently reorganized, and there are now Uromastyx and the closely related genus Saara under the agamid subfamily Uromasticinae. For example, U. hardwickii is now known as Saara hardwickii.

The most common ones available are Malis (U. maliensis) which are black with greenish yellow on the back. Saharans/Nigerians (U. geryi) are more colorful and have either bright yellow or orange evenly dispersed along their entire body. Ornates are more expensive, with blue, green and yellow coloration, with some variation between individuals. Some Ornate Uromastyx morphs include “white” (hypomelanistic) where the black color is reduced making the other colors more vibrant and red variants. By comparison, Egyptian Uromastyx (Egyptian spiny-tail lizards) can be rather plain looking, but tend to have great personalities and become very tame pets if you spend enough time with them with gentle handling and treats.

In general males are more colorful than females but this is not always the case with every species. Low prices could mean that they are not fully acclimated to captivity. Unfortunately few breed these wonderful lizards and most are wild caught imports. Mali stopped allowing exports, so expect U. maliensis to become more rare and more highly priced. U. geryi are probably the best uros to start with for a beginner.

Uromastyx lizards are predominantly herbivorous reptiles and need an appropriate diet. As herbivores, they are opportunistic feeders and eat leaves, stems, shoots, fruit, flowers and buds of native plants in their environment. They require adequate space, high heat and low humidity but otherwise, Uromastyx are easy to care for.

59 thoughts on “Uromastyx

  1. If they just hatched, I recommend no substrate or just slate. Then you can move to paper towel. At about 2-3 months depending on how well they eat their greens you can put them on seed. You just need to make sure they aren’t eating a lot of it.

  2. My name is Justin and i am in search for a uromastyx. I have been looking on your website and notice you have some for sale. I am just looking for more details on them such as age how many you have and what kinds you have available right now. I am looking for a baby uro or something not fully grown yet. I dont kno what is available this time of year or anything like that. Hopefully i can get this info from u guys and take the next step. Please let me know. Thank you.

  3. Hi Justin!
    We actually don’t have any uromastyx available for sale at this time. All the species start breeding this time of year, babies born in July-August so early Fall is the best time to find some, especially at local reptile shows. I would suggest checking with Deer Fern Farms or keep an eye on the Fauna Classifieds for older uros available. Good luck!

  4. Hi, was just wondering what food can a Egyptian uromastyx dwarf lizard eat?

  5. I’m not sure exactly how old my uro is. I’ve had him about 6 months. I think he is under a year old. I am worried about him bc he constantly claws at the glass. He has 2 hidey places, a skull thing for him to climb on, I handle him at least once a day, which he doesn’t really like. I think he might be bored but I don’t know how to help him. When I take him out of his tank I can’t put him down bc he runs so fast and he try to escape. I want to help him, but not really sure what the problem is.

  6. All uromastyx can eat the foods discussed here: http://www.moonvalleyreptiles.com/uromastyx/uromastyx-diet. They need about 80% greens, edible flowers and a staple like squash, 10% other vegetables like bell peppers, turnips, peas, etc., and 10% beans and seeds. Never feed insects, although many sources will say that a few are ok. We just don’t know what the “safe” limit is.

  7. A couple weeks ago we bought a young uromastyx. He/she was dark brown and very active. Recently it has stopped eating and also it’s color has lightened up a lot. He is not active at all. The pet store recommend collard greens but I’m learning that should not be in his diet often. What can we change or do to get him back to a healthy, active lizard?

  8. Do you know what species? The lightening could be due to keeping him warm – which is a good thing. Egyptians are often dark brown but will lighten up nearly white in warm sunshine. I recommend making sure the temperature are good – we have a care sheet that covers a lot of what you need to know. Collards are ok but not a staple if you are feeding other goitrogenic foods like sweet potatoes, grape leaves, cabbages, kale, etc. Choose options like leaf lettuces, squash, arugula, dandelion greens and fresh edible flowers if available.

    Proper heating, lighting and diet are the most important elements to keeping a Uro healthy. However, if there is an underlying medical condition like parasites or disease, you’ll need to clear that up first with a qualified reptile vet. Good luck!

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