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Animal Care Hospital

1146 Blairs Ferry Rd NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402

Meet The Spiny-Tailed Lizard

January 15 2023

Are you interested in adopting a reptile? If so, you may want to consider the Uromastyx, or the Spiny-Tailed Lizard, as they’re also called. The Uromastyx has become quite popular in recent years, and with good reason. They’re quite gentle and personable. They are also more affectionate than many reptiles. A Marion, IA area veterinarian discusses these charming and lovable lizards below.


The Uromastyx is a cute, if somewhat unusual looking lizard. If you were to picture a grumpy-looking, flat avocado with a spiked tail, you probably wouldn’t be far off. (They use those spiky tails to scare off predators in the wild.) However, while these guys may look cranky, they are actually quite sweet and shy. Native to the drier regions of Africa, India, and the Middle East, they grow to be between 10 and 18 inches. These guys do have some longevity, as they can live 15 to 30 years. That’s something to consider before adopting one. 


The Uromastyx is legal to own, though you may have trouble finding one. Be sure to go through a reputable store or breeder!


Another reason that the spiny-tailed lizard can make a great pet is the fact that they are herbivores. You won’t need to worry about handling live bugs! Your little buddy will need lots of leafy greens, such as endive, mustard greens, and collard greens. You can also add things like beans, peas, and lentils for protein. You may also need to add a calcium supplement. (Tip: feed your pet on a plate or dish, so they don’t accidentally ingest substrate.) Ask your veterinarian for specific advice, including feeding schedules.


An adult Uromastyx will need at least a 40- to 55-gallon tank, which should offer separate areas for basking, eating, hiding, and climbing. These cute lizards do hide a lot, so you’ll need to offer plenty of reptile caves and hiding spots. Also, make sure there’s enough substrate to allow for burrowing. (Calcium sand is a good option.) As far as the environment goes, you’ll need to maintain specific heat and humidity levels, as well as providing proper lighting. In fact, getting the habitat arranged properly may be half the battle, as far as their care needs go. Ask your veterinarian for more information.

As your Marion, IA area veterinarian, I offer great care for reptiles and exotics. Contact me anytime!