Acquired: Online breeder / seller,
Bred animal myself,
Worked with pet (didn’t own)
New York, United States
Posted Nov 11, 2015
This is the largest and, some would say, most impressive of the Uromastyx. Stoutly-built, with a bulldog-like face and nearing 3 feet in length, an adult male is a sight to behold. A group I kept at the Staten Island Zoo stole the show at the reptile house – not an easy feat in Carl Kauffeld’s old stomping grounds! Fortunately, they are well-established in captivity and, assuming you can meet their needs, are a great choice for serious lizard-keepers.
Uromastyx can be quite hardy – individuals of several species I kept during my career as a herpetologist lived into their 20’s, and greater longevities have been reported. But their needs are very specific – and if unmet, they decline very quickly. Ultra-high levels of UVB, as well as UVA, are essential – try your best to provide some exposure to unfiltered sunlight (even a few minutes can be useful) whenever possible. A wide temperature gradient – 80-100 F, with a basking spot of 120 F and a sharp drop in temperature at night, must be established. This is impossible in anything but a very large enclosure. Custom-built cages and cattle troughs are the best options, and will also allow for their near-obsessive digging. This is especially true for the ponderous Egyptian spiny-tail.
Strict attention must also be paid to the diet. Uromastyx have evolved to consume a fibrous, low protein diet, and cannot live on the rich diet favored by many commonly-kept herbivorous lizards. A wide variety of fibrous greens, wild native plants, grasses, seeds and legumes, supplemented with calcium and vitamins, occasional root vegetables, and grassland tortoise chow must be provided if they are to thrive (insect protein is needed by young animals, taken in small amounts by adults of some species).