Saharan Spiny-tailed Lizard Care
Saharan Spiny-tailed Lizard Care
Saharan Spiny-tailed Lizard (Uromastyx geyri)
also known as the Saharan Uromastyx and Geyr’s Dabb Lizard
Popularity: Make good house pets, but are not for being handled
Origin: North Africa
Native habitat: Rocky, semi-arid habitats
Size: 11-14 inches
Lifespan: Reports of 12-20 years
Appearance: Saharan Spiny-tails are small and slender, and are usually beige or orange with lighter colored spots. Colors of this genus are the “Red” geyri and “Yellow” geyri. The red phase is often nearly solid red to neon pumpkin orange, and the yellow is in or near a neon-range. Females are paler than males, showing more tan variations and less belly coloring. Their patterns are less vivid, and most females have freckling on the back.
Activities: Active in the daytime
Defense Mechanisms: Spiny-tails wave their tales for protection, or they burrow into a crevice and cover the opening with their tails.
Saharans need an enclosure that is at least 4-feet long. The top should be a securable screen. Many owners use different kinds of substrate: washed play sand with pea gravel, zoo-med excavator sand, millet, bird seeds, newspaper, paper towels, and dried coconut husks with the larger chunks taken out. Since they are diggers, it is good to vary up the terrain in the enclosure to provide variety. Add large stones and slate pieces to create good basking spots.
Humidity and Water
Saharan Spiny-tails don’t need much humidity, so don’t ever mist the enclosure. For youngsters, a bowl of chlorine-free water can be placed in an enclosure for drinking, but don’t leave it for very long because it will raise the humidity level in the enclosure. Adults get all the water they need from their food as long as they are not sick, injured or breeding. Too much humidity causes respiratory problems for them.
It is important to keep the lizard’s environment hot. Daytime ambient temperatures throughout the enclosure should range from the mid 80s to low 90s F, and the low 70s at night. They need a basking area with a temperature around 120º degrees F. Maintain the heat with lamps. Make sure the Spiny-tail has hides (rocks to hide around or under) in both temperature extremes.
When you keep this lizard in your home, it does not get the sunlight it needs to process important vitamins and minerals. You can fix that with UVB lighting. Fluorescent tubes that emit UVB light are good choices. Keep the light behind wire or mesh covers rather than glass because glass (and acrylic) blocks the necessary light rays. The light should be within 12-20 inches of the reptile. It needs 12 hours of light daily, but no more.
Feed these reptiles daily. They occasionally need fruits, berries and flowers, but mostly greens and other vegetables. Good fruit choices are mango, papaya, banana, kiwi, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. Flowers include hibiscus, nasturtium and pansies (violets). Greens include endive, dandelion greens, escarole, collard greens, mustard greens, black kale, red or Swiss chard, nappa cabbage, bok or sui choy, and turnip greens. Non-leafy vegetables include butternut squash, summer squash, peas and parsnips. Also, they occasionally need nuts, seeds and legumes.