Uromastyx Care Sheet

Uromastyx Care Sheet

Uromastyx (Uromastyx sp.) are a group of 9-30” long, diurnal, terrestrial lizards native to desert areas of north Africa and the Middle East. They prefer arid habitats with plenty of rocks and access to the plants that form the entirety of their diet.

Uromastyx have a full-bodied build with stout limbs, a large abdomen, rounded head, bulging cheeks, and a spiky tail. The shape and length of the tail varies by species. Depending on species, they can have a variety of colors and patterns, including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, tan, brown, black, and/or white. Males are often significantly more colorful than females.

There are approximately 20 species and subspecies. Uromastyx are becoming increasingly popular as pets, with most species and subspecies having been bred in captivity: 

  • acanthinura
  • aegyptia aegyptia
  • aegyptia leptieni
  • aegyptia microlepsis
  • alfredschmidti
  • benti
  • dispar dispar
  • dispar flavifasciata
  • dispar maliensis
  • geyri
  • macfadyeni
  • nigriventris
  • occidentalis
  • ocellata
  • ornata ornata
  • ornata philbyi
  • princeps
  • thomasi
  • yemenensis

They can make good pets due to their relatively docile temperaments, but accommodating their need for high temperatures and a diverse herbivorous diet can be challenging. With good care, they can live 25-60 years.

Recommended terrarium size for uromastyx

The recommended enclosure size for housing most uromastyx is 4’L x 2’W x 2’H, with larger being preferred. However, for uromastyx larger than 24”, a proportionately larger 6’L x 3’W x 3’H enclosure is recommended as the minimum.

We do not recommend cohabiting multiple uromastyx in the same enclosure.

Do uromastyx need UVB?

Yes! Uromastyx require UVB lighting for their survival. UVB lighting helps provide a clear day/night cycle, provides all of the vitamin D that your pet needs, strengthens the immune system, facilitates better digestion, and other benefits.

The best UVB bulbs for a uromastyx are:

For best results, house the UVB bulbs in a fixture with a reflector such as the Arcadia ProT5 kit or the Zoo Med Reptisun Hood. You wan it to be roughly half the length of the enclosure and positioned on the same side of the terrarium as the heat lamp. If the UVB is mounted over mesh, place the basking surface so the lizard’s back is 8-12” below the lamp. If the UVB is mounted inside the enclosure, place the basking surface so the lizard’s back is about 14-20” below the lamp. You want the basking surface to be the closest surface in the enclosure to the UVB lamp. 

Uromastyx also benefit from plant grow lights as part of their environment. You can add a ~6500K LED or T5 HO fluorescent grow lamp to provide extra illumination, as well as help any live plants in the enclosure to thrive.

Most people follow a 12-hour on and 12-hour off lighting schedule, but you can choose to follow the sun if you'd like! This means you can have more light on during the summer and less light on in the winter. A timer can help keep your schedule on time.

Best temperature for uromastyx

Uromastyx need a hot basking surface temperature between 120-130°F, and around 85°F on the cool side. Basking temperatures can be measured via infrared thermometer temperature gun. For best results, use a flat piece of stone such as flagstone, paver stone, or unpolished stone tile as the basking surface.

You can provide heat for your lizard with a cluster of two halogen heat bulbs placed above the basking area. We do not recommend ceramic heat emitters (CHEs), red bulbs, or blue bulbs, as these are not as effective. Lighting should be controlled with a proportional thermostat.

Heating should be turned off at night to allow for a nightly drop in temperature. Uromastyx will generally tolerate nighttime temperatures down to 68°F. If it gets much cooler than that, you can use an Arcadia deep heat projector, ceramic heat emitter (CHE), or radiant heat panel to supplement heat at night.

Best humidity levels for uromastyx

Uromastyx are exceptionally tolerant of low humidity in their environment, and humidity generally isn’t something to worry about too much with this species (unless it’s particularly high, of course). As long as you have a humid hideout or burrow available, they should be fine. 

You can keep track of the humidity levels with a digital probe hygrometer placed in the middle of the terrarium. The enclosure should be well-ventilated and humidity is best around 20%-30%. There are some coastal species that prefer slightly higher humidity, closer to the 50% range. But humidity should not be consistently higher than 50% for any species.

Best substrate for uromastyx

Substrate (aka "bedding") covers the floor of the terrarium and helps make the enclosure more attractive, but it also helps maintain healthy joints and provides something for your lizard to dig in (which they love to do!)

We recommend the following substrates for uromastyx:

  • Zoo Med ReptiSand
  • Exo Terra Desert Sand
  • Play sand

We recommend substrate to be about 4” deep and completely replaced every 3-4 months. Remove poop and urates daily, along with any contaminated substrate.

How to decorate a uromastyx terrarium

An empty enclosure makes for a stressed uromastyx, reducing its quality of life. Keep your pet entertained and engaged with its environment with the strategic use of décor items that encourage it to exercise natural behaviors!

Since uromastyx are a terrestrial species that prefers rocky terrain, at bare minimum you will need a flat basking stone and a couple of places for them to hide. However, it’s best to include other items, such as:

What to feed to a uromastyx

Uromastyx are 100% herbivorous, which means that they only eat plants. Juveniles should be fed as much as they can eat daily and adults should be fed 4-5x/week, with roughly 60% of their diet coming from dark leafy greens, 30% other vegetables, and 10% seeds. We suggest vegetables be chopped into bite-sized pieces to help prevent choking.

Provide as much dietary variety as you can manage for balanced nutrition!

Leafy greens for uromastyx: collard greens, cactus pads, spring mix, arugula, kale, alfalfa, bok choy, carrot greens, spinach, dandelion greens, hibiscus greens, turnip greens, endive, mustard greens, parsley, romaine lettuce, escarole, watercress, clover, timothy hay

Other vegetables for uromastyx: broccoli, rapini, zucchini, cauliflower, sweet potato, bell pepper, squash, carrots, okra, sprouts, pea pods, green beans, shredded carrots

Seed options for uromastyx: lentils, white millet, finch seed mix

Edible flowers such as nasturtium, dandelion, rose petals, hibiscus, and squash blossom can also be offered. When flowers aren’t in season, bee pollen granules can be offered in small quantities. Fruit such as berries, mango, apple, melon, papaya, and cactus fruit can be used as rare treats.


We recommend calcium and vitamin supplements to help prevent your lizard from developing a deficiency. We suggest Repashy SuperVeggie, lightly dusted on all salads.


Of course, don’t forget a small water bowl for your uromastyx to drink from! We recommend you change the water daily and scrub the bowl with a reptile-safe disinfectant weekly, or whenever it becomes soiled.

How to handle your uromastyx

Reptiles generally don’t appreciate petting and handling in the same way that dogs and cats do. However, with patient and persistent effort, uromastyx can become quite tame and tolerant of humans.

If you want to build a trusting relationship with your pet uromastyx, you will want to develop a foundation of positive interactions. Hand-feeding with soft-tipped feeding tweezers works well as an initial bribe, and it’s best to get the lizard to come to you rather than simply grabbing it. 

Here are some more tips for success:

  • Don’t grab the lizard from above. Instead, scoop from below.
  • Support as much of its body as possible.
  • Start with short handling sessions at first, then gradually make them longer.
  • Put the lizard back in its enclosure only when it’s calm.
  • Handle regularly to maintain tameness.


*This care sheet contains only very basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please further your research with high-quality sources. The more you know, the better you will be able to care for your pet!


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