Uromastyx Health

Many common Uromastyx health problems can be prevented with proper husbandry. Proper housing includes a dry enclosure, safe substrate, adequate temperature and basking areas, and plenty of space. Humidity can cause respiratory problems and scale rot. Improper substrate such as walnut shells or calci-sand can cause impaction in the gut if swallowed. Improper diet can also result in impaction, as well as vitamin/mineral deficiencies such as Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD).

Always be ready to take your Uromastyx to the vet if the reptile is visibly ailing. Reptiles in general are good at masking health problems because in the wild, the weak get taken out by predators or become ostracized from the group. It is a good idea to have a fecal scan run on new additions to the collection or at a sign of illness. See our Reptile Resources page for links to reptile vets.

Always quarantine your new addition(s) for 30-90 days before introducing them to other animals. Always be prepared to keep animals in solitary enclosures in case of fighting.

Diet-Related Health

Most diet-related health problems in Uromastyx lizards can be prevented by offering a highly varied diet of leafy greens, vegetables, flowers, beans, seeds and a limited amount of fruit.


Metabolic Bone Disease or MBD is the most common affliction of captive reptiles, and Uromastyx are no exception. MBD is a spectrum of disorders related to calcium deficiency, most cases are diet related. The bioavailability of calcium is determined not just by overall calcium in the diet but also the interaction of other vitamins & minerals such as vitamin D3 and phosphorus. When the right balance is not available in the diet, calcium is pulled from the bones.

Signs of MBD include soft jaws, disfigured bones, swollen joints, trembling and general signs of ill health. Calcium is for more than just bones. Internal problems include lack of muscle control, loss of liver, kidney and nerve function and problems in blood clotting. Severe cases of MBD do result in death, usually from heart failure. The healthy level of calcium in the bloodstream is roughly 1%. Over-supplementation with calcium is rare but possible.

Providing a balanced diet is crucial to prevent Metabolic Bone Disease in Uromastyx lizards. Choosing foods that are both high in calcium AND low in phosphorus are the best way to give uros the building blocks these reptiles need to function properly.

The final component in calcium absorption is Vitamin D3, either via diet supplementation or UVB exposure.


Provide your Uromastyx with either a humid hide or allow him to burrow to regulate his humidity needs. Uros will retreat to their burrows at night after digesting their food; in the wild, they have extensive and deep burrows and move around accordingly. Burrows up to 3 feet have been discovered, with humidity levels ranging from 50-90% depending on the season and rainfall. Temperatures are fairly constant at 70-75 degrees.

Under most circumstances, Uromastyx don’t need water bowls and should instead be provided with plant foods with high water content. Additionally, providing a light mist on the sides of the enclosure in the morning once a week to allow them to drink should be fine as long as the humidity levels don’t exceed 40% for an extended period of time.

Emaciated uros that have gone off-feed are also dehydrated. When they don’t eat, their stomachs shrink, their energy level drops and appetite is suppressed. Therefore, it is important to offer drinking water for these individuals. Dehydration also affects their ability to process proteins, so remove any beans/legumes from the diet. No insects!

It is important to address the issue of dehydration before resorting to force feeding. The impact of this can affect health later on. Get appropriate vet care in issues of severe dehydration and starvation before attempting force feeding.

High-Protein Diets

Excess protein is hazardous to dehydrated Uromastyx lizards because it over-taxes the kidneys and liver. Over time, too much protein for any Uromastyx can affect kidney and liver function. For tortoises, a safe level of protein has been estimated at an average 4%[1]. Strive to keep the amount of protein from plant foods low by avoiding excessive feeding of beans and other legumes. Green legumes such as alfalfa, clover, etc. are good to feed in moderation.

Do not feed insects to your Uromastyx. Insects are not part of their native diet for most species. They are unnecessary at best and dangerous at worst.

Gut Flora

Herbivorous reptiles such as Uromastyx species are uniquely adapted to the local environment. They do not have the same digestive systems as mammals, with their masticating teeth, multi-chambered stomachs and cud-chewing, that are useful when eating tough vegetation. Uromastyx rely entirely on their gut flora (and possibly small stones) to break down plant matter and extract nutrients. This is a generally inefficient process and keeping the right balance of microorganisms is very important. This gut flora includes “beneficial bacteria” and even protozoans[1] and nematodes[2]. This is combined with the uro’s preferred 130 degree basking temperature to digest their meals.

The use of antibiotics, such as Baytril, and parasite treatments, such as Panacur, will kill off these microorganisms, making it difficult for the Uromastyx to digest food. NutriBAC df is a respected brand of probiotic. Repashy “Veggie Dust” also contains beneficial ingredients to boost gut flora.

Refusing Food

Most of the time, Uromastyx are fine if they skip meals for up to a week. Common causes are food preferences, changes of season, stress, low temps, and sadly, illness.

In the wild, Uromastyx change foods with the season, and different species tend to eat slightly different foods. Ornate Uros eat a lot of acacia flowers and tend to go nuts for any small yellow flower (such as from dandelions or budding wild arugula). Don’t drastically change the diet from one day to the next, but rotate foods in and out gradually.

Normal Changes in Appearance

As your young Uromastyx grows and matures, you will see general changes in appearance. Males and females (depending on species) will gain color and some will exude a waxy secretion from their femoral pores on their inner thighs.


Reptiles shed as they grow and their skin is renewed. Unlike people, whose skin cells slough off one at a time, most reptiles like snakes, geckos and other lizards, tend to go into shed all at once; snakes have an easier time pulling it all off at once because they are unhindered by appendages. However, with our friend the Uromastyx, the lizard may be in a state of constant shed throughout the warm seasons! Often they look like half-peeled bananas. It’s best to not pull off their skin unless it’s restricting their circulation around their wrists and toes.

Uromastyx will often eat their delicious skins, regaining some of the nutrients that went into creating it in the first place. Eating the shed also minimizes the chance of a predator coming across it and alerting them to the presence of a nearby meal.


The salt glands of Uromastyx, as well as other herbivorous and marine reptiles, is an adaptation of the lateral nasal gland. This comes in handy by removing salts these animals encounter through diet or other environmental exposure. Since most reptiles do not produce liquid urine, evolution has adapted the lateral nasal gland to eliminate these substances as “snalt”. [3][4]

The term “snalt” refers to the salt-snot, the ring of white deposits around the lizard’s nostrils. It is composed of excess salts in the diet. Lentils, papaya, carrots, corn, and sweet potatoes are comparatively high in sodium and potassium which form these salts. They shouldn’t be avoided as they are highly nutritious foods, just keep them on rotation. This “white stuff” on your uro’s nose can simply be wiped away and will fall off on its own.

Stress & Handling

Whenever you suspect your Uromastyx is not well or not adjusting to its home, you should stop handling. Even relatively friendly reptiles such as Uros are stressed by too much handling. How much is too much? You don’t want to handle daily if you see signs of stress, hiding during the day in warm weather, and not feeding.


Mature male Uromastyx are often brightly colored and easily distinguished from females in this way. However, for immature animals or to make sure you don’t have a “male mimic”, you can sex uros by gently lifting the tail and looking for a “v” or “u” shaped crease starting at the base of the tail extending back. The bulges on either side are the hemipenes of the male. The tail body of a female will appear more uniform as it does not house the male reproductive organs!

Other secondary sexual characteristics include coloring mentioned above, wider, larger heads and “jowls” in males. Both males and females can have femoral pores, males tend to have larger ones.

Never probe a Uromastyx! This can cause harm to the internal tissues and can be very stressful to the reptile. Probing is for use on snakes but is still not recommended for novices. Uros should not be “popped” either. :|

Disorders & Diseases

Tail Rot

Keeping a Uromastyx in an enclosure that is too moist, or failing to dry them off after a soak can lead to tail rot. Bacteria or fungi can build up in the tail crevices and lead to infection or “rot”. The tail turns dark and can fall off. A trip to the vet is always advisable, as problems with tail tips could also be dry gangrene from an injury and not tail rot.


Undigested food or foreign objects (rocks, hair, wood chips, bark, vermiculite from potting soil, etc) can form a mass in the digestive system and cause an impaction. Signs of impaction include inability to defecate, or straining to go, and passing narrow, skinny poops. If you’ve noticed a lack of poo in your enclosure, and your Uromastyx is lethargic, this could be signs of infection or other illness.

Soaking in warm water can help pass the blockage, but if normal bowel movement does not return quickly, so don’t put off a vet visit! Impactions can cause death if not dealt with quickly.

Maintaining good husbandry and making sure foods are high in moisture and free from dirt and debris will cut down on the chances of your Uromastyx becoming impacted. Improper substrates, especially crushed walnut shell and cacli-sand also cause impactions.

Photo-Kerato Conjunctivitis

Faulty UVB bulbs can cause eye irritation and often blindness.
http://www.uvguide.co.uk/phototherapyphosphor-info.htm is a great resource if you suspect your Uromastyx or other reptile has photo-kerato conjunctivitis.

Other Diseases

Uromastyx are generally hardy, but improper husbandry or exposure to infected reptiles can introduce viral, bacterial, or fungal infections. ALWAYS follow proper quarantine when obtaining new animals. If your uro appears ill and you don’t know why, please take your pet to a qualified reptile vet!

Notes & references:
1: http://www.anapsid.org/dietcons.html
2: http://www.deerfernfarms.com/Uromastyx_Care.htm
3: http://bio.research.ucsc.edu/~barrylab/Lisa/PDFs/Hazarddissabstract.pdf

179 thoughts on “Uromastyx Health

  1. I have three saharan uros 2 males and a female, which all get along great! Usually they cuddle up together. My concern though is this, my female has a small little wart looking growth on her bottom jaw, she doesn’t mind it being touched and everything, but I’m slightly concerned on whether it is problematic or contagious. I really hope she’s ok, as she acts totally fine, plenty of energy, eats normal, stools look healthy, everything is normal, but the little wart thing. Please help!

  2. Hi, we’ve just bought a Egyptian uro . He is 7 years old. He is eating very well, very active , sleeping well, but his poos are on the watery soft side .
    His diet before us was lettuce ( which I know is not great for them) and water cress salad and runner beans . There was no other mixture , except they said he liked millet.
    For a week he has been wolfing down mixed spring salad butternut squash basil carrots broad beans lentils pumpkin seeds dandelions bird seed in small dosages ( his choice !) courgette , he seems to eat what ever I give him. Have I upset his tummy by introducing too many new foods?
    He also seems determined to poo then run through it and coat him self in it, I am sure it is not accidental :) is this normal?

    • He is probably adjusting to the new diet. Does he have a humid retreat? He could by trying to hydrate himself by focusing on foods high in moisture. Dandelion is a bit of a diuretic, although it’s a very healthy food. Continue feeding as you are, but reduce dandelion leaves and add some edible flowers and maybe some dried grasses. I’ve found that Egyptians can be pretty messy! :)

  3. We have an 11 month old Sarahan Uromastyx and he must have cut the top of his front foot with his hind nail since he likes digging with his back legs as well. Since Pascal has an open, blood red minor cut on his foot and like to lay with his front legs flipped back behind them (putting the cut face down in the sand)…should I worry about it becoming infected or is there anything safe I can put on it so it heals quickly without infection?

    • If the wound isn’t scabbed over, I would recommend putting paper towel or butcher paper down over the sand to keep the wound clean. If there’s a scab, it probably won’t get sand in the wound. I don’t recommend most ointments unless a vet has suggested them. Petroleum products can actually slow wound healing in reptiles. Honey is a good ointment, but it’s sticky! Sand would get stuck in it. If it’s a bad cut, I recommend a vet visit just to be sure. Good luck!

    • I need help my uro has a rib like bone underneath his belly it’s not visible but I thought it was a price of wood He ate so I bent it a bit to see what it was it kinda like snapped but he did not react at all and he’s not changed but I never noticed the bone like things that were under his belly idk what it is and if he’s ok I’m terrified that he’s not ok so I need answers please anyone I need help I want to make sure he’s ok please

      • Please take him to a vet right away. It does not sound normal at all. I wish I could help but a reptile vet is going to be the best thing for your Uro. Good luck!

  4. Hello! We have I believe aporoximately 3 – 4 yr old Uro. Have had him a couple of years. No idea breed variety, got him from local pet store. He has always been very healthy & active until recently in which He has become very lethargic & refuses to eat. Its spring & really just getting warmed up where we live, daylight at aporoximately 15 hrs so he should be getting more active. His diet is mostly romaine (he loves) & other greens occasionally (which he never seems to want) & a dozen small to medium live crickets approx every 2 – 3 weeks. Enclosure is a standard 5 gallon opn top aquarium (getting ready to go to 10 gal) w/ 1″ play sand & a flourescent 100W equiv spiral bulb for light with tank right next to large window for daylight/ heat. Also heat pad on outside/underside of tank & ceramic food dish turned upside down for basking & radiant heat. He has a small plastic lego “hiding hut” my kids built for him. Like I said just in the last week or so noticed he isnt eating & ver lethargic. Soaked him in warm water yesterday & today & yesterday strongly encourage him to eat. I was able to get him to take about 3 bites of a couple different greens. Today no success on food at all. Also changed out to a full spectrum bulb yesterday. He is moving to change sleeping positions but otherwise wont wake up even when we pick him up. Thoughts? (Note: no longer going to feed crickets, didnt know they were bad for them)

    • Hi Mandi!

      Unfortunately, many pet stores and other resources equate lizards with eating crickets. This happened with iguanas a few decades ago and as a result really shortened their lifespan, along with other misconceptions about there care.

      The cage size seems drastically small. A 20 gallon isn’t even large enough for an adult – only acceptable for hatchlings and juveniles. This is because they need a lot of space to roam and to thermo-regulate. What are the temperatures in the tank? I’m afraid that he could either be under-heated or overheated. They need to be able to cool down to about 75-80 and heat up on a warm area of 95-100, with a 120-140 spot under a light in a basking area large enough for his entire body. So that’s a lot to attempt in a small tank. Placing him near the window may actually do more harm than good if the tank gets too hot. The glass in the windows and the tank itself block the beneficial wavelengths (UVB) in the sunlight, so it could just be cooking him instead if he can’t escape to a cool area. Provide him with a tupperware box inside the tank filled with damp sand and/or sphagnum moss as a humid retreat.

      The lethargy for this time of year is really abnormal. The lighting can help – is it a specific UVB generating bulb? Many “full spectrum” bulbs don’t produce appropriate levels of UVB, and some can even damage their eyes – especially in such a small tank.

      Do you give him any supplemental vitamins & minerals? Romaine lettuce & crickets is a very poor diet. Please check out our in-depth guide to Uromastyx feeding here: http://www.moonvalleyreptiles.com/uromastyx/uromastyx-diet. He could be bored of his food or just really drained due to cramped living conditions and monotonous diet. You might need to chop everything up really fine. You can also try to get him to eat some pureed squash or squash babyfood, if he accepts it. Don’t feed dry foods like beans or lentils until you are sure he’s eating his greens and is back to normal health and activity, since dry foods can dehydrate him.

      I strongly suggest you get him a vet check, as he may have some internal issues going on contributing to his lethargy. But you should immediately get him into a bigger tank, make sure he has a cool side and a warm side, and amend his diet with a variety of chopped greens, squash, flowers and a limited amount of fruits like strawberries and blueberries. Use a good reptile supplement that includes calcium and vitamin D3 – the level will depend on the type of UVB you provide. Low amounts if you have a high-output UVB bulb, high amounts if you don’t. A good start is Repashy SuperVeggie and a variety of low, medium and high vitamin D3 calcium supplements. Sticky Tongue Farms Miner-All Indoor formula is also a good choice.

      Good luck, I hope your Uro returns to his old self soon!

  5. Just wondering if had any ideas on just a sudden death in uros i had a female and a mâle. Lost the female couple months ago she wasnt eating so i put her alone in different cage.. was doing better but still didnt make it. Woke up this morning and my male had died?? He was healthy and fine! Any ideas?

    • Hi Rena –

      So sorry for your loss! It’s hard to lose an animal that seems healthy. Unfortunately, reptiles are very good at hiding illness and weakness. We have lost a very healthy looking male Uromastyx due to liver tumors. No real explanation as to why. He was wild caught so it’s possible something affected him early on, but also it’s possible it was a congenital issue he was born with. Only a necropsy (autopsy) immediately after they pass away can help determine the cause of death. Refrigerating the remains will help preserve the body until you can have a vet take a look.

      You can review your husbandry and see if there was anything in the diet or environment that could have contributed to the deaths. Parasites or an illness are a possibility if both have passed away. Chronic dehydration is possible if they don’t have a humid hide to escape to. Improper diet or supplementation can be a leading cause of premature death, as can temperatures that are too hot or cold. There are many causes and without knowing what they look like internally, it’s hard to say what the cause was. Organ dysfunctions are often to blame, and these can be caused by genetics, poor husbandry, disease and parasites.

  6. I have also been noticing that my mali uro has random black rows of spikes on her tail and the tip of her tail is also black. she will let me handle her but if I touch her tail she freaks out. Do the tails normally change color or could this be something bad?

    • This could be a sign of tail rot, and if you are concerned then a trip to the vet will help determine if this is a benign color change or if it’s the start of a fungal or bacterial skin infection. Color change is common with some species, and it includes speckles of black along with brighter colors. It’s normal for them to be skittish about having their tails touched.

      Good luck!

  7. I have recently accuired a small Uromastyx geyri and during the first few days it was kept on dry wood bits, not dark wood chips these were quite small light coloured bits of wood. We changed it to red exo terra sand today as the wood bits didn’t hold heat. And the uro has been inactive the past few days especially today only coming out to bask once and not for very long. We cannot tell whether it is eating as when the food shrinks due to the heat it is difficult to tell. When I handled it to move it (when we changed the substrate) it didn’t walk around at all which was worrying. It is able to get to basking spots of at least 130 degrees or more but doesn’t seem to want to bask, it just hides under the cork bark, which isn’t great as the cork completely blocks heat so it is as warm as the air temp in there. I also think it is stressed so it hides and is cold and therefore won’t eat and is dehydrating what should I do?

    • Uros are often less active in the winter. They undergo brumation, a mild form of hibernation. They can also take a while to acclimate to a new environment. So it could be normal for him to stay hidden most of the day. You may be able to warm them up by taking them out and holding them in the heat light but this could be stressful. Just make sure you heat the cage to about 80 degrees in the “cool” end and hopefully he will begin to eat, although it may not seem like much. Just provide greens and squash, as dry beans and other foods can be dehydrating. You can try taping paper around all sides of the enclosure so he can’t see what’s going on around him. This could help make him feel more secure.

      Good luck!

  8. I discovered our Uro, Chewy, in a extreme lethargic state this morning. We had an unexpected cold snap and the Heat was not on while we where away for the night. Temp in the house dipped to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. I have returned environment to normal temp. Should I be immediately concerned or will he likely snap out of it when temperatures equalize? He is visually other wise healthy and active. Any help is appreciated. -Joel

    • He should do fine as long as you get him warmed up. 50 is on the low side but one night exposure should not do any lasting harm as long as you get his heat up to normal during the day. They usually hunker down at night in burrows, so having one available (even a fake one in a smaller hide) can help maintain body temperature even in the winter.

  9. My daughtet said she saw her crested wiggle his hind area and then squirt liquid from HIS glands, the ones with the white dots on them, then he licked up the liquid. Is this normal or a symptom to a problem?
    Thank you

  10. my female uro looks like she is going to blow up, very very fat but still wants food haven’t noticed a lot of feces recently is there a certain food that will help? or should i just keep trying to soak etc?

    • Proper feeding of greens, flowers, squash, and limited dry foods like lentils and seeds is the best way to make sure they stay hydrated and pass feces regularly. It is possible the female has retained eggs – even if they do not have a mate, they still produce eggs which can complicate her health. I recommend a vet trip if her health starts deteriorating.

  11. Hi, I have just gotten home from school and unfortunately I wasn’t able to take my uromastyx with me. I did try and got in trouble at the dorms. But anyway I was aware he wasn’t eating as much since I had been gone. But when I got home he is almost nothing. And it is killing me. No one told me he had practically completely stopped eating. And my heart is broken just looking at him and I am furious with my family for not telling me he was this bad. Is there anything I can do to make him eat and put weight back on him? Because I don’t want to lose him:(

    • Hi Tori, sorry to hear that your uro has gotten into bad physical condition. You first need to make sure he is properly hydrated before you start assist feeding him. Try to get him to drink water; dehydration is usually what kills rather than starvation. When they don’t eat, they don’t have enough moisture to function. Dehydration suppresses the appetite as well. You can mix up some Oxbow Critical Care for Herbivores with water, and you can try to feed with an eye dropper or other liquid food dispenser. If he refuses, you must take him to a vet who knows how to syringe feed a Uromastyx. Their jaws can clamp shut so they need to be skilled at positioning the feeding tube correctly. Do not try to feed high-protein food until he’s recovered as this can cause damage to the kidneys after a long fast. In addition to Critical Care you can get squash mixed with apricot baby foods from the grocery. Some Uros love sweet fruits and bright colors. If there are other foods he likes, use those but be sure to hydrate him first by misting around his enclosure early in the morning, placing a water bowl or soaking him. You might need to have a vet inject fluids first so a trip to the vet is the best starting point. Good luck!

  12. my uromastyx has recently (past couple of days) been doing this weird stomach dance thing where he almost looks like a snake. he’s also acting different and being much meaner he’s usually super sweet but now he freaks out if I try to touch him and he’s starting to eat less. what is this stomach dance thing and should i be concerned?

    • That’s the belly dance! It’s a threat or defensive display. Sounds like he may need a little more time settling in, depending on how long you’ve had him. It could also be the breeding season making him more jumpy. Make sure you have the conditions in his enclosure right, are feeding a good diet and try not to disturb him – especially when sleeping. Make sure he has plenty of places to hide. Good luck!

  13. My uro has blood coming out with his poop. His been acting normal and eating the same. Should I be concerne about this?

  14. Okay I am super concerned. I made the mistake of leaving my euro with my parents because my siblings never got to have pets. She was very malnutritioned and had poor heat and got very sick. I couldn’t afford a vet trip so I just brought her home and began taking the right care to heal my baby as I did before. I healed her from a parasite infection that was eating her scales when I bought her at age one. Any way now she is three. I have had her home for 3 months or so. When I brought her home my mom said she wont’ eat won’t poop or leave her cave. I have got her to eat regularly in large amounts too, I have also got her to move and develop strength in her lower legs but her upper legs seems to still be very weak. She poops great too. She slithers aroung slowly like a snake if you will. Her upper limbs and lower toes are extremely swollen. She whips her tail again and hisses and belly dances which is normal because she has always been shy. I feel like she has been staying this way for like a month and her condition isn’t getting any better. I am not sure what to do at this point. I was afraid I’d lose her from not eating or voiding but that’s fine now. I am afraid of paralysis. Ive done research and her MBD symptoms are not showing a positive outcome.

  15. My uro’s head is a grey/white color — it doesn’t look like a normal shed. He seems to be acting fine, eating and cruising around the cage — I am just concerned that something else might be going on —- any ideas??

    • Usually the white color is when they are basking and it means they are healthy and active. Perhaps the rest of the body is about to shed? Otherwise, it could depend on the species. They can change color as they mature.

  16. I just purchased a juvenile uromastyx and he is doing really well adjusting. He is very active, he eats a lot, and he enjoys being handled. But I’m concerned about my heating situation. He is only 6 inches long and I have him in a 10 gallon tank temporarily until I move next next week. The hot side of his tank has a 150W and a 100W uvb bulb running during the day. This makes the hot side only 95-100 degrees F. The basking rock feels a whole lot hotter but my digital thermometer doesn’t pick that up. With the cool side 88 to 90 degrees F. I know that’s not hot enough for the basking side but I can’t get it any higher without adding another bulb or heat emitter. Any suggestions?

    But also my Uro doesn’t bask on the hot side. He mostly hangs out in his hide on the cool side or on top of the hide. So while I know that the tank isn’t hot enough, is it possible that he is too hot? He’s eating lots every day and has a bowel movement every day so i know he’s digesting. I’m just a bit confused on what to do in this situation.

    • Yes, it is possible he is too hot. They only bask to get their internal temperature up high enough to eat and convert UVB to vitamin D3 (if you provide UV light). They can definitely overheat and a 10 gallon is too small to allow the cool side to drop to 80 degrees which they do need on occasion. Are you using a probe or a temp gun to measure the basking rock? 100 degrees is warm enough for the hot side, you just want the basking area to get 120+. You might want to get a temp gun to measure the surface heat of the basking rock, probes only measure the surrounding air temp which will be around 90-100 surrounding the basking area. Your temps on the warm side and basking area could be fine and even a little too hot.

  17. hi, I recently acquired a Nigerian uromastyx female who is about a year and a half old. Everything about her behavior is normal, except she isn’t eating a lot and seems quite sleepy. Is this just the stress of a new home? She still eats, but only a few greens a day. She is active in her cage and basks every morning but when I hold her she almost instantly goes to sleep. What does that mean? She will wake up a bit if I take her outside but otherwise she seems quite content sleeping on my chest.

    • Hi Caity! Uromastyx need high heat, and removing them from their heat source can put them in a sort of torpor. Heat = energy! So it’s not unusual for them to become inactive during handling. Some take a while to settle in and start eating. It could also depend on the food you offer – they do have favorite items and hold out for treats if they expect them.

  18. I purchased a young red uromastyx from a pet store. He sadly died today from unknown causes. He had a uvb light bulb and a heat pad underneath his hide on one side and the other side was cool. He was provided with fresh salad twice a day with different veggies like grated carrots, lettuce, green bell peppers and green beans and sometime I gave him small slices of apples. He was always provided with fresh water. He had things to climb on and play. The first 2 weeks he was very active and made us laugh a lot. He was very good while being handled. The last week he was more lazy and today I got home from school to find him dead. His substrate was sand and I believe that that is bad for lizards but I always made sure that there was no sand in his food or water. I didn’t stop crying tonight and I would really love to know what might of killed my little lizard or if you think he was sick upon purchase. Thank you :(

    • I’m so sorry for your loss. :(

      He my very likely have been sick or had pesticides. Usually an impaction from sand takes longer to show up, but if the pet store had him on sand or other material it could also cause problems. A lot depends on the temperature you had him at and the humidity. Often humid climates can be detrimental to Uros – they really shouldn’t have more than 20-30% humidity during the day, with access to a humid hide at night. That means that a water bowl in their enclosure could create more humidity than is good for them. The veggies you describe besides lettuce are also relatively high in oxalates but that shouldn’t have caused immediate harm. I would lean towards it being either something he had going on before you bought him, and the stress of a new home made his immune system weaker. If you had high humidity levels, this could also play a factor, but 2 weeks seems rather rapid for this. So sorry you lost the little guy!

  19. I have had my uromastyx for 15 years and the last two days he has not moved a muscle. He is on his heat mat and bright yellow. Usually he would go to his hide if I try and pick him up but he’s lifeless. I feel he has passed away as I can see him breathing however he is still warm to touch and body is limp.
    Do you think he has passed away and his heat mat is keeping his body warm and supple?
    Any thoughts?
    I can’t see anything wrong with him so guess it’s old age. Although I see they can live much longer.

    • Hi Jody, I hope all is well with your Uro. Breathing is definitely a sign he is alive. They can become very inactive especially in cooler weather despite added heat. I don’t recommend using heat directly underneath them because they can’t always sense temperature well unlike overhead heat. Heat mats should be used on the side of an enclosure at night during winter to provide a warmer retreat and not to heat their primary basking spot. Hopefully this hasn’t lead to any overheating, which is possible even with Uromastyx.

  20. I have a mali uromastyx, and lately he has been refusing to eat, and looks dehydrated, I gave him a bath and thoroughly dried him off yesterday, and while I was giving him the bath he drank some of the water, but minutes later he vommited up what seemed like more that he drank. I also noticed when I was trying to hand feed him, that his tail has gone from normal roundish, to nearly completely flat, other than a spot down the center which I assume is just his vertebrae, what do I do, he is also not wanting to bask for very long, and he is very lethargic. Is there something I can do, he has lost about ten grams over this week. He looks like he hasn’t lost a whole lot of weight in the stomach, but then there is the tail thing, what do I do. Please help. It is breaking my heart to see him like this.

    • Change in seasons can make them eat less and become lethargic. What you described with the bath is not encouraging, and is one reason why baths can be harmful for Uromastyx. They can get water in their lungs or overindulge especially if they are dehydrated. A vet is going to be your best resource right now. They can become dehydrated if they don’t have a humid retreat at night or if they go off feed for more than a few days. A vet can help rehydrate him at the least, and also check to see if he’s ill. A possibility could be parasites.

  21. My sons uromastyx appears to be “curling up” and his body is crooked to the left. It’s so sad, he can’t easily move around his cage. I’ve done a little research and found it could possibly be partial paralysis due to vit D deficiency or a spinal injury? Will seek out vet care but in the meantime, any advice out there as to what this could be?

    • It sounds very much like a calcium & vitamin D deficiency. Husbandry is key to preventing it, but vet care will help deal with it once it exists. Hopefully it will not progress with proper treatment. Good luck!

  22. My uromastyx hasn’t been eating lately at all. He/she (Gender and exact species are unknown) is around 4 years old I think and has still been sunning himself regularly. It’s colder where I live now since it’s fall, but I don’t know. He has two heat lamps, one for pure heat and the other for fake sunlight. He has plenty of stuff to climb on and a hide in both the cool side of his terrarium and the warm side. I use paper towel for substrate and change it out every 2-3 weeks. I feed him chopped up spring mix with other vegetables mixed in occasionally. Even though he isn’t eating he is still his regular size.

    Hopefully someone can help me with this because I have been feeding him regularly but he doesn’t even touch his food. He also hasn’t pooped at all.

    • This is really common in Fall and Winter. All of our uromastyx go through some form of brumation, but each species can vary by how inactive they become and all of them eat less. Is this your first year having him/her? Also be sure to provide supplementation for vitamins and minerals to ensure proper nutrition. Good luck!

  23. When I bought a Mali Uromastyx he was fully black and beautiful, but when I brought him home I noticed the next day he totally lost his black. He looks like a totally different Uromastyx. I thought it was my ornate Uromastyx because he looks like his coloring. He’s about 7 months old. What happened to his black coloring and will it come back or did I do something wrong. He has his own tank and good heating and 2 good hides he eats well but he’s now a gray color. Please help me get his black coloring back.

  24. Hi I purchased a yellow Nigerian about 3 weeks ago now. He (they think it’s a male) seems to eat ok a handful of greens and will take the odd bite of other things I offer. He’s on birdseed substrate. Temps in cage are all what I’ve read they should be. He was a lot brighter yellow when he was at the pet store and now he’s mostly greyish with a bit of drab yellow in between. He doesn’t bask much at all, would rather lay down in front of the hide but is then in the shadow. Does this mean he doesn’t like the basking spot as hot as it is? Would more basking make him brighter? I have 90 watt floodlight over rock probly about 8 inches. He’s settled well otherwise, doesn’t scare or hide easily. My other question sorry, is we put a heat pad unearned the but the temp over it becomes 120F so we shut it off, everyone seems to say they use these??

  25. Hi,
    My name is Elizabeth, and I’m concerned about my young Egyptian Uromastyx, Jasper. I went on vacation for a few days and had him babysat by my local reptile store (where I got him in the first place) and it was fine. When I came to pick him up he was a little cold and had lost some weight to his belly. A little after I had put him back in his tank I noticed he was behaving strange – he wasn’t acting like himself (this could be because the setup of the tank at the reptile store was very different from mine). He went to sleep for about an hour without moving under his little log that he normally only ever climbs on. I took off the log then saw two small yellowish-white lumps on his left side and two really tiny ones up on his neck on the left side. I’m not sure if it’s a burn or blister or if it’s anything else, but my mom and I did a little research and thought it might be a burn. So we gave him a lukewarm bath to wash him and hydrate him and my mom found a website where they said coconut oil would help so we put some on his back after his bath. He seemed to warm up in the bath (unlike he would in the tank. I put him on his basking rock but he kept moving away and never properly warmed up, so he wasn’t active.) and he started to act like himself again. I cleaned his tank a bit too, and right now he went to sleep in his normal spot (his rock cave). But what is it and what do I do? We are also going to treat him in case of impaction and dehydration (I don’t think he is impacted, I saw his feces in his tank at the reptile store earlier today) just in case. My mom got him some good salads at the store too.
    Please reply soon, because this is my first reptile and I don’t know what he has or what to do!
    (I also have pictures of you need to see them)

    • Hi Elizabeth! Sorry for the late reply – I hope Jasper is improving. You might want to have a vet check out the lumps, that could be the start of an infection or parasites. If he was kept too cold and damp it’s a possibility it’s a skin disorder. A vet should be able to help determine if it’s serious. Good luck!

  26. I recently acquired an abandoned uromastyx from a rental property. I believe it is a female. I have had her for 2 months now. She had been left unattended for over a month with no food or lights. She was very defensive at first but finally calmed down and let me handle her. Now that she has been under lights and eating every day she is very active. She seemed like she was doing fine. I picked her up one day and she exceeded a large amount of liquid?? Followed by a white substance less fluid. Is this normal? I thought they did not urinate? And I just noticed her tail is shedding but it is black when the skin comes off?? I read that this could be tail rot?? I do not keep water in her enclosure the only liquid is from her excretions in which I clean out as soon as I notice it. She eats romaine, spinach(not much) collards, some carrots ect. She is in a glass enclosure 18″x 36″ with terrarium carpet and play sand. Am I doing something wrong. Please help. I have grown quite close to her and want to keep her healthy. Thank you in advance.

    • The liquid and the white stuff (urates – concentrated waste that doesn’t pass in the liquid) are their urine, so there is no issue there. Sometimes when they are stressed they release a lot of liquid, which can be dehydrate them over time so be sure to provide fresh greens to rehydrate them. Their skin is black when it comes off, depending on the species. Make sure you offer a wide variety of greens, flowers and vegetables as outlined in our feeding page.

  27. I recently aquired what I think is a yellow female Saharan Uro. A reptile breeder traveling back from a couple day expo stopped at my apartment and traded it to me for several crested geckos. I work 2 jobs and didn’t have a proper enclosure ready for around 40 hours after I received it. The breeder said it would be okay in the gecko enclosure for a short period, it had coconut fiber substrate. It ate in the gecko enclosure pretty good, but I changed the tank to its specifications, and it stopped eating, moving, and even opening it’s eyes. It moves around in the basking sight (barely) without seeing , and I got it to eat a couple tortoise pellets, but it makes me nervious cuz the pellets are so dry . It does not hide though. I’ve tried collard greens, dark lettuces, and it’s bedding is white millet. The breeder will not contact me back after several attempts on my end. I stopped touching it and covered the sides that see out to me. I’ve soaked it once last night. Help

    • I hope your uro is doing better. If it ate the substrate that can be a big concern as cocofiber can expand in the gut and cause impaction. In the future, you can use a plastic tub or other temporary enclosure without any substrate (bare floor) until you can get a more suitable one set up. The gecko enclosure was probably too moist. Make sure to keep him warm and dry. A vet trip is needed if he doesn’t improve. Good luck!

  28. I recently purchased a U.geyri that was believed to be a “male mimic”. He was being housed with a male Mali in a 48x18x18 enclosure. In the three weeks that it has been in its new home it’s color has come up drastically. Is it possible it was actually dropping color to prevent aggression? It has strong reddish orange with black banded on its stomach, and generally orange/brown on its back.

    • Hi Brian! Interesting observation. There are a couple reasons why his color could have changed, probably due to improved environment & less stress. He could have been suppressing the colors to reduce aggression, although I haven’t seen other accounts of this. It seems plausible. Otherwise, improved tank size and layout (abundant hides, good basking spot, etc) can contribute to better health and confidence. Heat plays a big role in color display, so it’s possible he’s accessing the basking spot more frequently than in the old tank, possibly due to bullying. Sounds like he is in great condition, congrats on being a good keeper!

  29. HI. i have an egyptian uro we believe to be female. she is about 3 yrs old. we sent her to my hubbys family to stay since i have a baby n have not been able to spend much time with her. they said her one eye looks maybe swollen and she has brown coming out of her nose on the same side. her tank at home was sand n bark which never caused an issue but they decided to use like minced walnut shells? they said she is getting her calcium n eating like a piggy. not sure if brown could just be walnut dust? any suggestions? the closest vet is like an hr n a half away that does exotic pets so i figured id ask first.

    • Having brown coloration is not unusual when you have a substrate that stains. The eye could very well have been injured by the walnut bedding – it’s one of the worst reptile substrates and we recommend never using it. So if her symptoms don’t improve after removing the walnut hulls, a vet trip may be necessary. Good luck!

  30. Help! We have had our uro since 1999.
    He/she has never had a problem and has never been to the vet. It is starting to have these white spots on his skin in different places. What is it and what can we do?

    • Hi Lydia!

      I hope all is well with your Uro. The white spots could be a number of different things, including infections caused by fungus, virus or bacteria. If it’s still spreading it would be best to take him to the vet to rule out problems. For mild infections, a prescription skin cream will clear it up. Good luck!

    • Hi Sarah!

      That can happen if they have inconsistent exposure to humidity. If they don’t have a humid retreat or if kept too humid, it could affect their shedding at the tail tip, and lose it. Uros tend to shed little bits at a time so they always appear to be shedding.

  31. Hi there,

    I have a uromastyx who has poop stuck to the top of her tail, it’s been there after a shed. Now I’m very hesitant to soak it in water because she has already suffered from tail rot. Any ideas?

    • You can use a dry toothbrush or similar tool to remove any debris in the scutes of the tail. You could use water if you dry the tail thoroughly, like with a hair dryer.

  32. I currently own a Mali Uromastyx Lizard who is Approx. 20 yrs old. It has now become unresponsive and lethargic and I’m not entirely sure why Can you Please Advise On Further Action In What We Should Do At This Point.

    • Hi Clay! 20 years is pretty old for a Mali, but we are learning more about caring for them so this could be a “normal” life span. It could be old age. A vet trip might be the best if it’s not too late. Keep him warm and hydrated on greens, flowers and squash and remove dry seeds or lentils which can cause dehydration in an ill Uro. Good luck with him, hoping for the best for you and your uro.

  33. My sons nine year old uromastyx had a bloody bowel movement and died the next day. It was so sad to see this happen. We noticed afterward he had a large lump on one side of his underbelly, not noticeable but we could feel it. What could possibly have caused his demise. He was perfectly healthy and lively up until that bloody bowel movement. Any ideas?

    • It could have been an impaction that he couldn’t pass. Particulate substrates can build up in their GI tract, so be careful with sand and soil. Even too much dry food can cause problems. It could be a swollen organ due to disease, parasites or a congenital problem. It’s hard to say for sure without a necropsy. I’m so sorry for your loss!

  34. I rescued a uromastyx and his whole tail has tail rot, is there something I can do to help him until I get him to the vet?

    • Make sure to feed a variety of moist food like greens, flowers and some fruits and remove dry foods until you see poop. Impactions can occur, so he might need a trip to the vet. Good luck!

  35. my 5 week old ornate has a white spot on its nose, is this a disease? it is my first uromastyx and i am not sure if anything is wrong

  36. I have a egytic uromaystyx I have moved him to a 75 gallon tank. He has a 150 and a 100 infrared heat lamps and a 100 blue daylight. I can’t get it above 110 degrees Do you have any suggestions.

    • You can try to create a raised platform underneath the lights so that spot gets to 110. Just make sure there is at least 12 inches between your uro and the light bulb.

  37. My wife got me a Mali Uromastyx for Christmas, he was very neglected and his heating pad didn’t work, and only had onenough small 100w light, cage is 36x18x18, tail seems stiff and stuck in one position. After doing some research, I went and got a 160w MVB and a 150w infrared, also replaced the heat pad and got him a hot stone. His basking area is about 120° and hidey hole is around 80. Removed calci-sand and replaced with washed play sand. Seems more active now and eats every 2 days and poops plenty. But he is making a weird squeak pop sound with his throat when I pet him, doesn’t run or seem bothered by the petting, also will make the same sounds when just lounging, is it normal or a sign of a respiratory problem?

  38. My uromastyx recently threw up, which she has never done before. Her basking spot is around 129 degrees and her sand is children’s play sand, so I’m not sure if that contributed or not. I’ve been thinking it might be her diet (which hasn’t been the best lately since I’ve been busy with school), but she’s never had any issues with what she eats before. What should I do or what should I change condition wise?

    • Sometimes they do regurgitate if they eat too much or something doesn’t go down right. If it’s continual, a vet trip will be necessary. A good diet and a humid hide option may help with any minor issues she has. Good luck!

  39. My uromaxtyx is acting strange she is not moving as mutch and looked bloated when I pet her on her front arms she leans her whole body on that side and lifted her head up

    • It could be a possible impaction. Do you have any substrate she could have eaten that could cause a blockage? Does she eat plenty of fresh greens and other vegetables?

  40. I have a Mali (I think) Uromastyx. Not sure of the age but on the younger side cuz she continues to grow. She keeps getting growths on her face. They look like a build up of tissues or something. I’ve taken her to reptile vets and they all say the same thing. They “think” it’s bacterial. They peel off the growths, I take her home, let her heal and then they come back. Also, her lips constantly bleed. I have tried soaking her in warm water, antibacterial washes from the vet and different ointments to heal it. All resulting in only temporary results. HELP!?

    • Hi Jacci! How is your setup for your uro? Substrate? Is it warm enough? Does she have a humid hide to retreat to, while the ambient humidity is under 30%? Is your diet balanced with plenty of leafy greens and other vegetables? Have any of the vets provided an anti-fungal treatment? They should be able to do a sample to culture to find what kind of microorganism is causing the issue, if any. Did they say if the mouth bleeding is related to the skin problem? Is it isolated to her face? She may need to be on oral/injectible antibiotics if it’s systemic. If it’s a buildup of skin, perhaps some supplementation of vitamin A would be helpful. It sounds like she’s in poor shape. I’d avoid soaking her if your conditions are too humid. I am also concerned that your vets didn’t biopsy or do any cultures or blood work. Good luck with her!

  41. Hi, for almost two years now, our mali uromastyx have had a white fungus growing on their mouths and parts of their underside near their anus. What could this be? It has seemed uncomfortable and they try removing it. They have not been to a vet because we heard of a similar case where the vet removed it and it died. Thank you

    • I would suggest seeing a vet who will prescribe a cream, as fungus can be treated in that manner. However, it could be bacterial in nature and require different treatment. Is it possible it’s stuck shed and not an infection? If this is happening to multiple animals it may require a complete sanitizing of the enclosure and a review of husbandry for appropriate heating, humidity, lighting and diet. Good luck!

  42. My uro has been lying on his back again for the last couple of days. He’s done this a few other times but then seemed to return to normal. I’m having a hard time seeing whether he’s breathing or not, but I don’t want to disturb him if he’s not feeling well. He only started doing this about a year ago, and I ‘ve had him for 12 years. What could it be?

    • That’s very strange. Females tend to flip on their backs during mating season when they want males to leave them alone. Are there other animals in the cage with him, or have you been handling him a lot? It could be an attempt to avoid aggression or too much attention.

  43. I have a year old mail mali who has tiny black sorts just show up. He’s stopped eating. Reading up on this I went to get vitamins for him and have since now 2 days given him them. His color has returned and he’s starting to move more. But the spots are still there. I cannot afford a vet visit at this time. Do you know what it is and some tips to help my Jack out??

    • Malis develop black coloration of the legs, head and tail with the body having black rosettes, like leopard spots, on a yellow background. Does this sound like what you are seeing? Try looking at pictures of Malis online to see if it’s normal color progression. Other black spots could be a skin infection, in which case you want to make sure you are providing a dry, warm enclosure without standing water. Nutrition is important but I don’t think it would cause spots directly, unless the animal is in poor shape from malnutrition. Check out our care sheet http://www.moonvalleyreptiles.com/uromastyx/uromastyx-care-sheet and our diet guide http://www.moonvalleyreptiles.com/uromastyx/uromastyx-diet to make sure you are providing the right environment and diet. Good luck!

  44. Hi there!
    In a few weeks I am getting a juvenile Uromastyx ocellata! I have been doing as much research as possible but I am not finding anything specific to this species and wondering if you have any recommendations? I know that unlike many species they are semi-arboreal so I am wondering if there are other differences to regular uromastyx care sheets I might find!

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