Scientific Name: Uromastyx
Average Life Span: 15 years
Size: 10-18 inches (up to 30 inches for the Egyptian Uro)
IUCN Red List Status: Most Uros are list as Least Concern
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Uromastyx are a genus of lizard in the agamid family, the same family
that includes bearded dragons and frilled dragons, clown agamas and
many other familiar lizards. There are at least 18 different species of
uromastyx officially recognized by taxonomists, and many more subspecies
and varieties. The common name spinytail, or spiny-tailed agamid, comes from the 10
to 30 rings of spiked scales covering the top side of their tail. They
are also sometimes called dabb lizards, or mastiguires, but they are
usually just referred to as “uros.” They spend most of their waking hours basking in the sun, hiding in
underground chambers at daytime or when danger appears. They tend to
establish themselves in hilly, rocky areas with good shelter and
A uromastyx lizard will very seldom, if ever, bite a human, but if cornered or surprised, or grasped nocturnally or when hiding, it might defend itself with a tail-whip. They will sometimes bite other uromastyx in territorial disputes or grasp roughly with their jaws during mating attempts.
Captive uromastyxs' diets should be largely herbivorous. This can be collard greens, dandelion greens, mustard and turnip greens, prepackaged spring mixes, escarole, endive, radicchio and bok choy. Yellow, red and white flower blossoms also seem to be particularly stimulating for uros. Uromastyx lizards love to eat seeds, such as dry lentils straight from the grocery store shelf, as well as small bird seed mixes containing safflower, grass seeds, etc, minus the large sunflower seeds. Many seeds are also easily sprouted, which uros find irresistible. Uros generally have no interest in drinking water as long as they are eating a diet with plenty of fresh greens and vegetable matter as described above. As with most generalizations about uros, there are plenty of exceptions: Females usually drink vigorously immediately following egg laying, as will new hatchlings. Recently imported uros that are emaciated or perhaps parasite-laden will also sometimes drink. Certain species, such U. benti, U. geyri, U. macfadyeni and U. hardwicki, seem more prone to drinking water in captivity. All animals should have access to water for when they desire a drink.
Uromastyx are burrowing lizards, and need substrate deep enough to burrow in, or a low structure under which to hide. In the wild, these lizards' burrows can reach 10 ft in length. Historically, captive Uromastyx had a poor survival rate, due to a lack of understanding of their dietary and environmental needs. Bright, hot lighting is necessary to stimulate normal feeding and digestion. Generally, the goal is to have a very brightly lit cage with a gradual temperature gradient from approximately 80 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit and basking zones of 120 degrees or more.
Sources: Wikipedia and Reptiles Magazine