Captive care and breeding of the Ornate Uromastyx  (U.o.ornatus)
By Troy  Jones

I have been keeping reptiles practically my whole life, for the last 3 year's Uromastyx have been my passion. I got in to Uromastyx after keeping Bearded  Dragons for a while and I was getting tired of having to keep crickets all the time. I was in a pet store one day when a  employee offered to trade my pair of Dragons for a pair of Uromastyx maliensis from his own personal collection. He showed me some pictures of the them and I thought they were very interesting looking  and according to the pet store employee they are 80% vegetarian, so I agreed and we made the trade. When I  received them and I saw for the first time they reminded me of a turtle without a shell and a spiny tail. I brought them home and set them up in the same manner as I had my Bearded Dragons.

I then started searching the internet and reptile expos. for books and care sheets on the genus Uromastyx I found a book  (Basic Care of Uromastyx ) by Philippe de Vosjoli and on the internet I found a web page dedicated  to the husbandry and care of the Uromastyx. The page had a lot of great info along with many care sheets written by Randall Gray and I changed up my enclosure in accordance with the advice I gained from Randall's care sheets..

After getting the basics of keeping Uromastyx down, I caught the bug badly and started obtaining as many different species of Uromastyx I could find (U. ocellata ornata, U.acanthinurus, U. maliensis, U.benti Rainbow/Mountain Benti, U.ocellatus (Egypt). I obtained my first pair of U.ornates from Randall Gray with whom I became frear friends. After many trips to Randys home to purchase and view his Uromastyx, he mentioned that he was inheriting The Uromastyx Home Page and he asked if I would administrate it for him and I agreed and as they say, the rest is history.

This year I sold all my U.acanthinurus, U. maliensis, U.benti and Rainbow/Mountain Benti. I now focus on the U. ocellata ornata (U.ornates). I keep some 30+ U.ornates in there own separate enclosures, only introducing them during the breeding season. I give them only the finest care
and this is my second year in successfully breeding and hatching out U.ornatus.


I feed a mix of Mustard Greens, Turnip Greens, Collard Greens, Kale and Escarole. Twice a week I mix in some green peas ,lentils and birdseed and, more occasionally dandelions. I. Usually feed thawed mixed Vegetables around twice a week to give them a break from greens. Once or twice a month I offer calcium dusted crickets. I do not offer my healthy animals water, as they get all they need from their diet. If you do choose to offer water occasionally, do so in a solid container that can not be easily tipped and only leave in the enclosure for a few hours. Water spilled or left for long periods can raise the humidity in the enclosure which can cause health problems.


My Uromastyx room takes up one room of  my 3 bedroom home and contains many 50 gallon glass aquariums (Breeder Tanks), A  stack of 3  4' X 2' wood enclosures with glass front and many 33 gallon Rubbermaid tubs (Not pretty but efficient).With so many enclosures in the room,  the temperature stays around 90 degrees. Make sure to offer at least one hide per animal to be housed; I keep my hides in the hot end of the cage. I supply a 120-125 degree basking spot and have a gradient of 80-90 degrees to the cool side. I provide a good UV florescent type light. If you have a big enough enclosure and are housing three or more animals you may even want to provide two basking lights - just make sure to give a gradient so they can escape the heat if they want.

I use washed play sand as a substrate. If you use rocks in your enclosure make sure they are resting on the floor so they can not dig under the rocks and have a cave in and get crushed.

For newly acquired animals

Try adding a hide to the hot end of your cage (right under basking light) as this will give your Uromastyx a place to hide and still get the benefit of the basking heat. I do this with my newly acquired Uromastyx to get there body temperature up and will help minimize stress. Try not to handle the newly acquired Uromastyx for the first couple weeks ( at least until he/she is feeding well) and if using a glass (or glass fronted) cage you might try covering the front to reduce stress.

For your problem feeders try non toxic flowers like dandelions, super worms, wax worms and crickets. You might also try a birdseed, green pea & lentil mix. If your grocery store has cactus pads with the spines removed try chopping these and offering some.

I suggest that you house your Uromastyx in its own seperate enclosure during this acclimation period. Being housed individually minimizes stress and gives the animal unlimited access to food and the prime basking spots in the enclosure. Once established you can house the U.ornates in pairs or trios, but do ensure that you always keep an eye on them for stress. I personally house all my U.ornates in there own separate enclosures and only introduce females to males during breeding season.

Breeding information / statistics

U.ornate 1998 Hibernation schedule

November 29th 1998
Sifted sand in all enclosures of animals to be hibernated to make sure no uneaten food remained.

November 30th 1998
Stop feeding all who are going to hibernate this year.

December 13 1998
Cut out all lights on those who are going to Hibernate.
I only offered the Uromastyx 4 hours of basking every Wednesday and Saturday but no food was offered for the whole period.

January 3rd  1999
Reset lights and resume feeding.

1998 Breeding

In 1998 my female laid 4 non fertile yellow eggs on 05/17/98 and 21 days later (06/07/98) she laid eight white ones. Of these seven hatched between 08/24/98-08/28/98. They were incubated in a Hova-Bator (Styrofoam style incubator) filled with moist vermiculite. I added this directly to the incubator and no plastic containers were used. The incubation temperature was 86-89 degrees.

1999 Breeding

In 1999 three  females actually laid but unfortunately I lost all of the first U.ornates clutch and all but one of the second U.ornates clutch. Fortunately, I was successful with the 8 eggs of my 3rd females clutch, for a total of 9 U.ornate hatchlings for 1999.

The first female to lay a  clutch of eggs was observed breeding 27 February. Eleven eggs were laid  but by 7 April all had gone bad (possibly due to lack of moisture - see below). This was her first breeding and this also may have been a factor.

The second female  was observed mating on the 22nd, 24th and 31st of March
and laid eggs from 14-17 May. Thirteen eggs were laid in all. One hatched out
29 July all the rest went bad.

My third female was the same one that laid eggs that were successfully hatched last year. This year she was observed mating on the 15th, 16th and 18th of April land on the 1st of May she laid one yellow infertile Egg. on the 23rd May she laid a further eight eggs, this time nice and white in appearance that all hatched between the 1st and the 8th of August.

I think my bad success ratio was due to trying to perfect a better method to incubate eggs this year. I was expecting more clutches and as I wanted to keep blood lines separate, I incubated the eggs in plastic containers, as opposed to last years method. I punched pin holes in the top of the plastic containers and filled them full of moist vermiculite, with a one to three ratio of water to vermiculite.

On the first and second clutch the lids were only lightly placed on the plastic containers, and I feel this was my reason for loosing the eggs. After the first clutch failed I noticed that  that the plastic containers did not seem to be building up any moisture on the inside so  I sealed the second container and moisture did build up, however, that it was two late for all but one of the eggs..

On clutch number three I added the eggs to the plastic container and sealed the lid from day one. Moisture built up and all eight of these eggs hatched. I did mist the lids of the plastic containers around once a Month and had a small separate container of water in the  incubator. Incubation temperatures was, once again 86-89 degrees. Clutch one and two were from females that had never laid before but clutch number three was from the same female I was successful with last year.


The hatchlings started feeding in the first day or two and are fed the same basic greens as the adults, only all stems are removed and the greens are finely chopped. Hatchlings are housed in 33 gallon plastic tubs with similar basking and gradients as the adults. I use finely sifted play-sand as a substrate and as far as I am aware, I am the only breeder of U.ornatus to do so. I have not experienced any
problems with gut impaction a result but, if in doubt, use another substrate such as newspaper.

Hatchling #1 (07/29/99)- the only survivor of the first clutch . STV (snout-to-vent length)
2.2", STT (snout-to-tail) 3.9" at 6 days old.
7 Grams on  08/04/99
8 ½ Grams as 9/26/99

Hatchling #2  (08-01-99) - one of eight
8 Grams 08/04/99
10 Grams as of  9/26

Hatchling #3 (08-02-99) - two of eight
8 Grams 08/04/99
9 Grams as of  9/26

Hatchling #4  (08-0299) - three of eight
8 Grams 08/04/99
9 Grams as of  9/26

Hatchling #5 (08-02-99) - four of eight
10 Grams 08/04/99
12 Grams as of  9/26

Hatchling #6 (08-03-99) - five of eight
10 Grams 08/04/99
10 Grams as of  9/26

Hatchling #7 (08-05-99) - six of eight
10 Grams 08/05/99
12 ½ Grams as of  9/26

Hatchling #8 (08-05-99) - seven of eight
10 Grams 08/05/99
13 ½ Grams as of  9/26

Hatchling #9 (8-06-99) - eight of eight
8 Grams 08/06/99
13 ½ Grams as of  9/26

Final note:

If any reptile enthusiasts are interested in Uromastyx and to pass on any information or data to me in hope of furthering the captive breeding of these lizards, I would be delighted to receive any material. You can e-mail me at Don't forget to check out the Uromastyx Home Page at


Troy E Jones, Randall L. Gray,  Audrey Vanderlinden, Douglas E. Dix  Ph.D.,
Victor Cole,  Mark Walsh, Matthew Moyle, Jason Shanaman, Lindsay Pike.

Uromastyx Mailing List (
The Reptilian Magazine did not print this part of the acknowledgment