Pet Care Guides Reptile



Africa to Asia



Average Size:

14 to 36 inches


Up to 20 Years

Uromastyx Introduction

Having a uromastyx as a pet can be a very rewarding experience! Before purchasing, do plenty of research to understand their behaviors, proper handling and care requirements. Help them live a long and healthy life in your care.

Lizards comprising the genus Uromastyx first arrived in the US pet trade in the early 1990's. Uromastyx inhabit arid rocky grasslands and desert fringes from northwestern Africa to southwestern Asia. Today they are popular pets and several of the 18 known species are bred by hobbyists. Other common names include spiny tailed-lizard and Dabb lizard. Their popularity can be traced to their mostly herbivorous diet, relatively large size, and mild temperament. The following information is applicable to most species of Uromastyx, though differences in care do arise


Individuals vary greatly in behavior: many tolerate gentle handling while others require time to settle and may remain skittish. In general, Uromastyx will be much calmer if kept in large set ups with the correct furnishings.


Uromastyx are best kept by themselves as a solitary pet. That Pet Place cannot guarantee that any animal will get along with any other animal, even if they are purchased from the same cage.


Uromastyx should be provided with as much space as possible. Large enclosures are necessary for thermoregulation. Uromastyx will move from warmer to cooler areas as needed to regulate their body temperature. This behavior, called thermoregulation, is important to their health for many reasons and is usually not possible in small tanks.

We Recommend:

• 40 gallon Breeder 36”x18” – juvenile 12-18 months old
• 75 gallon 48” x 18” – 2 years and older

Air flow is important for all reptiles native to arid habitats, so your terrarium should be equipped with a screen top.

Habitat Furnishings

• Ceramic Food Dish
• Water Dish
• Two Hides (1 for cool side & 1 for basking side)
• Substrate
• Decor

Substrate: Wild uromastyx live on mixed sand, gravel, and clay. A mixed soil and sand substrate is best for a uromastyx. We recommend a substrate mix of 60% reptisoil and 40% reptisand. You must be careful not to mist too much if at all as uromastyx can become ill quickly in damp surroundings. Remove substrate entirely once every 3 months, clean the habitat itself with pet friendly disinfectant, and provide fresh new bedding.

There is a possibility that captive uromastyx could sometimes suffer fecal impactions due to swallowing too much sand. If they eat sand, it more likely indicates a nutritional deficiency in general. As a result, they have an urge to eat anything, including sand, to make up for the nutritional deficiency. To prevent impaction, provide them with a more well-balanced diet.

TFP-TPP Pro Tip:
Still concerned about impaction? Feed your babies and juveniles using tongs or feed separately in a bin at feeding time.

Uromastyx will burrow. Caves that are partially covered by substrate make good tunnels, though any heavy shelters should be placed directly on the bottom of the tank before substrate is added to prevent lizards from digging underneath and being crushed.

Light, Heat & Humidity

UVB lighting is required for your uromastyx to properly use vitamins & minerals from their food to keep healthy. Specifically, UVB desert bulbs help them synthesize vitamin D3 which allows for them to absorb and use calcium properly.

Without proper UVB, your uromastyx could develop metabolic bone disease (MBD), leading to eventual death.

UVB bulbs should be placed within 8-24” of the basking site depending on the UVI your reptile requires & the UVB % of the bulb. UVB bulbs should be left on for 12-14 hours per day and replaced every 6-12 months. Only use your UVB bulbs during the day hours to provide a normal night/day schedule. NOTE: UVB and UVA are two different kinds of light. UVA CANNOT be substituted for UVB light.

Reptiles cannot maintain their body temperature by producing metabolic heat. They rely on external conditions (i.e. heat bulb) to regulate the temperature of their bodies. Consequently, a thermal gradient must be established in your uromastyx’s habitat. That means you must provide a basking area (hot) and a cooling area (warm). This process of self- regulating their body temperature by moving back and forth from their basking area to cooler areas is known as thermoregulation and is necessary for proper reptile health.

Required temperatures for your uromastyx:

• Basking temperature: 120°-130°F
• Cooling area temperature: 85°-100°F
• Nighttime temperature minimum: 75°-80°F

To provide the recommended basking temperature, we recommend the use of a heat spotlight and an under-the-tank heater plugged into a thermostat. At night, turn off the spotlight to allow the temperature to cool down to around 80°F. If the temperature at night goes below 75°F, you may need a ceramic heater or reptile night light, which gives off heat but not visible light.

Use two separate thermometers to monitor the temperature in the basking area & the cooling area.

TFP-TPP Pro Tip:
Reptiles need the proper amount of heat to digest their food and maintain their immune system. Each species has its own temperature requirements and that must be met by providing the appropriate amount of heat with heat bulbs, ceramic emitters, heat mats or some combination of the three.

Humidity should be kept very low, (10-25%) and the substrate must always be kept dry. Use a hygrometer monitor your tanks’ humidity.


• Juveniles- feed daily
• Adults- feed around 5 times per week

A uromastyx’s wild diet consists of high fiber, low-nutrient grasses, and herbaceous plants. In captivity they can be fed mustard and turnip greens, endive, dandelion, bok choy, romaine and leaf lettuce, and a small amount of squash. Kale and swiss chard can be fed in limited amounts. Iceberg lettuce, cabbage, and broccoli should be avoided. Please see our reptile room associates for a more complete listing of safe vegetables and fruits.

TFP-TPP Pro Tip:
Spinach binds calcium, making calcium unusable, and should be avoided

Their vegetables can be dusted with a calcium supplement  2-3 times per week and a multivitamin powder 1 time a week.

TFP-TPP Pro Tip:
Possibly in response to an "internal clock", uromastyx and other reptiles sometimes refuse food during the winter. This is referred to as brumation. This is not a concern in healthy animals, which usually begin feeding with spring's arrival.

A shallow dish of water can be offered for short periods of time once per week but should not remain in the cage as it will increase humidity and spillage can dampen the enclosure. Humidity in an Uromstyx habitat must be kept very low. No excess moisture or spilled water.

Daily Care & Maintenance

Uromastyx require attention and care every day.
You will need to:

• Feed and provide fresh spring water as specified above.
• Spot clean, remove waste and uneaten food
• Complete health checks.
• Complete heating checks.

Check your uromastyx often for signs of injury or disease including missing toes, bite marks, and white or gray patches that may signify fungal infections. Observation can be as simple as looking at them closely while they are in their habitat. Continual handling is not required as that can cause undue stress.

Uromastyx should always appear alert. Any reptile that seems limp or does not hold themselves erect when active are likely in poor health. Very commonly poor health can be caused by an issue with their heat.

Check the following daily:

• Basking temperature in their actual basking spot
• Cool temperature in the cooling area of their cage.

Watching your reptile’s behavior & movement can indicate whether your temperatures are correct. For example, if your reptile always stays on the heated side means it’s never hot enough. Always staying on the cool side means the heated side is too hot.

Health & Sanitation Considerations


Salmonella bacteria, commonly present in reptile and amphibian digestive tracts, can cause severe illnesses in people. Handling an animal will not cause an infection, as the bacteria must be ingested. Salmonella infections are easy to avoid via the use of proper hygiene. Wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after handling any animal. Please speak with your family doctor or veterinarian for more tips on preventing Salmonella, or please read our care guide Cleaning and Disinfecting Recommendations for additional instructions.

Thank you for taking the time to learn about your new family member.   We recommend having a check-up at veterinarian that specializes in exotics soon after you bring your new pet home. It is helpful to keep a medical record about your pet should an emergency ever occur.

Pet care is always evolving & changing. Please continue to research & monitor your pet's behavior to assure they are thriving.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our reptile room at 717-299-5691, ext. 1240 or

Recommended Items


UVB Fluorescent bulb and a Basking heat bulb with a dome
Terrarium cleaner
Hide A Ways
Food Dish
Vitamin powder