Uromastyx

This Uromastyx came to us from the Humane Society after being left by his owner in an empty apartment.  He was dehydrated, had a bad burn on his back, a retained shed on his tail, and was not eating voluntarily.

After a round of antibiotics, many water baths, daily treatment of his burns with a cream, and 10 days of hand feeding, this lizard ate a dandelion flower on his own. He is docile and curious, as you can see by this photograph, and the vet thinks that he will adapt well to a classroom setting.

Warning

There are many species of Uromastyx lizards available in the pet trade; most are wild caught and all require slightly different care.  Because these animals are relatively new to the pet trade, there is little information about their care. This page is specific to the care of Uromastyx Maliensis, which tends more towards being a vegetarian and is extremely docile.

Habitat

Living in hot, dry areas, of Northern Africa, Uromastyx lizards require a large enclosure  (4 feet x 2 feet x 2 feet). The cage must be well ventilated to allow for low humidity (20%-40%) and must have a temperature gradient from 80 degrees to a basking spot of 120 degrees.  Use a ceramic heat bulb during the day to raise the temperature and create a basking spot, then turn it off at night to allow the temperatures to fall into the 70s.  Be sure to use a digital thermometer to determine the enclosure's temperature. Do not use a hot rock because they can burn your pet.

A full spectrum UV bulb is required for 14 hours a day in the summer and 10 hours in the winter.  These bulbs must be replaced every 6-9 months, even if the light is still functional. The best UV light for all lizards is the sun, and Uromastyx lizards can be housed outside in the summer as long as the temperatures do not dip below 60 degrees.

In this large enclosure should be
1.  sand based substrate; do not use clumping litter or pine/ cedar based litter.
2.  two hide boxes or rock caves, one on the "hot side" and one on the "cold side."
3.  a flat rock or ceramic tile under the basking light.
4.  many rocks and limbs to climb on.  Be sure that large rocks are secured because Uromastyx lizards will burrow and can be crushed by a falling rock.

Malis are extremely messy and will drag their food out of the food bowl.  They defecate daily, and their cage should be spot cleaned every day.  Replace all the sand when necessary and clean the enclosure with a 10% bleach solution.

Diet

Uromastyx lizards are almost totally herbivorous, eating a salad similar to that of iguanas.  Feed your pet daily several types of dark greens: dandelions, collards, mustard green, turnips, with several types of shredded vegetables: carrots, parsnip, squash. Dust the greens with Rep-cal to make sure that your pet receives the proper about of calcium.

Provide dry a dry seed and legume mixture in a shallow dish, such as bird seed or 15 bean soup.  If you use the 15 bean soup. grind it into a coarse mixture. 

Offer your Mali a cricket once or twice a week, but be careful not to overfeed insects because it can cause health problems.

Malis are able to get most of the water that they need from their diet.  However, there is debate about whether or not to leave a small dish of water in the cage.  If the humidity of the cage is too high, Malis can get respiratory infections, but if no water is available they can get dehydrated (see above description of Sayre's Mali).  Which ever you choose, be sure to monitor the humidity level and/or make sure your Mali is eating water-filled fresh vegetables.

Life Expectancy

Since most Uromastyx are wild caught and are almost impossible to determine their age, it is difficult to determine how long they can survive in captivity.  It is currently thought that they can live 30+ years.

Health Concerns

1.  Gastro-intestinal Disease. Since most Uromastyxes are wild caught, it is important that you take your new pet to your veterinarian to check for parasites.

2. Respiratory Disease.  If you notice labored breathing, running nose, or swollen eyes make sure that your pet is in an enclosure with low humidity and high temperatures.  Consult your veterinarian.

3. Metabolic Bone Disease. All reptiles require proper calcium and UVB light to make sure that their bones can form normally.  If you notice swollen limbs or lethargy consult your veterinarian.

References

Kaplan, Melissa. Care Sheet for the Genus Uromastyx.  Herp Care Collection. 26 April 2009.

Vanderlinden, Audrey.  Basic care for Uromastyx Lizards. Chicago Exotics, PC: An Avian and Exotic Animal Hospital.  2 May 2009.

Uromastyx Malensis Care Sheet. Reptic Zone: Your Reptile and Amphibian Information and Resource Site. 2 May 2009.

Sorin, Eric and Suzy.  The Uromastyx Home Page. Kingsnake.com. 2 May 2009.

 

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