Egyptian Uromastyx

STATUSVulnerable

COMMON NAME (SCIENTIFIC NAME)Uromastyx Aegyptia

DIETHerbivores, but known to ingest insects in dire situations

RANGENorthern Egypt, east of the Nile River; scattered populations in southern Egypt

HABITATArid and desert areas

Egyptian Uromastyx

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Program and General Information

The generic name (Uromastyx) is derived from the Ancient Greekwords uro– meaning “tail” and –mastix, meaning “whip” or “scourge”, after the thick-spiked tail characteristic of all Uromastyx species.

Common Physical Features

Lizard ranging in size from 10-36 inches. Like many reptiles, these lizards’ colors change according to the temperature; during cool weather they appear dull and dark but the colors become lighter in warm weather, especially when basking; the darker pigmentation allows their skin to absorb sunlight more effectively.

Their spiked tail is muscular and heavy, and can be swung at an attacker with great velocity, usually accompanied by hissing and an open-mouthed display of (small) teeth. Uromastyx generally sleep in their burrows with their tails closest to the opening, in order to thwart intruders.

Habitat and Global Range

Uromastyx are found in northern Egypt, east of the Nile river. Scattered populations in southern Egypt and most concentrated along the coasts of the Gulf of Suez. Found in desert and plain region with fairly coarse substrate and scattered vegetation. Often found near sea level and are tracked with fecal pellets and burrows.

Diet

Herbivores, eating mainly greens and vegetables, and occasionally insects when juveniles or during droughts when no other food is available.

Behavior and Life Cycle

Females can lay 5-40 eggs. Incubate for 8 to 10 weeks. Sexually mature around 4 years of age. Females will make a burrow to lay eggs and once hatched, offspring may remain in burrow for another few weeks.

Uromastyx are a burrowing lizard, and often dig burrows up to 10 ft in length in the wild.

Fun Facts

  • Wild female Uromastyx are smaller and less colorful than males. For example,maliensis females are often light tan with black dorsal spots, while males are mostly bright yellow with mottled black markings.
  • Importing in the 1990’s brought a lot of attention to this species in the pet trade.
  • Burrows can be used by other animals once abandoned. When burrows are dug deep, it brings soil with lower salt content to the surface for plants to use.
  • Known as “dabb” by Arabs, Uromastyx are consumed as food by the Bedouin populations of the Arabian Peninsula. It is considered a delicacy.

Conservation Messaging

Species is in decline due to collection in the pet trade. Their habitat is susceptible to development activities, especially agricultural expansion.

Do your research before buying a pet. Make sure they are being purchased from a reliable breeder and not captured from a wild population. They get fairly large and so if purchased, should have equipment to handle a large lizard.