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Uromastyx dispar
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Agamidae
Subfamily: Uromasticinae
Genus: Uromastyx
(Merrem, 1820)

The Uromastyx is a genus of lizard whose members are better-known as Spiny-tailed lizards, uros, mastigures, or dabb lizards. Uromastykes are primarily herbivorous, but occasionally eat insects, especially when young. They spend most of their waking hours basking in the sun, hiding in underground chambers at daytime or when danger appears. They tend to establish themselves in hilly, rocky areas with good shelter and accessible vegetation.




[edit] Taxonomy

The generic name (Uromastyx) is derived from the Ancient Greek words ourá (οὐρά) meaning “tail” and mastigo (Μαστίχα) meaning “whip” or “scourge”, after the thick-spiked tail characteristic of all Uromastyx species.

[edit] Species[2]

U. dispar

[edit] Description

Uromastyx asmussi

Their size ranges from 25 cm (10 in) (U. macfadyeni) to 91 cm (36 in) or more (U. aegyptius). Hatchlings or neonates are usually no more than 7–10 cm (3–4 in) in length. 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 soak up more sunlight.

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.[3] Uros generally sleep in their burrows with their tails closest to the opening, in order to thwart intruders.[3]

[edit] Distribution

Mali uromastyx, female

Uromastyx inhabit a range stretching through most of North Africa, the Middle East and across south-central Asia and into India.[3] This area spreads across 5000 miles and 30 countries. They occur at elevations from sea level to well over 3000 feet. They are regularly eaten, and sold in produce markets, by local peoples. Uromastyx tend to bask in areas with surface temperatures of over 120 °F.

[edit] Reproduction

A juvenile Indian Spiny-tailed Lizard Uromastyx hardwickii.

A female Uromastyx can lay anywhere from 5 to 40 eggs, depending on age and species. Eggs are laid approximately 30 days following copulation with an incubation time of 70–80 days.[4] The neonates weigh 4–6 grams and are about 2 inches (5.1 cm) snout to vent length.[4] They rapidly gain weight during the first few weeks following hatching.[4]

A field study in Algeria concluded that Moroccan spiny-tailed lizards add approximately 2 inches (5.1 cm) of total growth each year until around the age of 8–9 years.[4]

Wild female uros are smaller and less colorful than males. For example, U. maliensis females are often light tan with black dorsal spots, while males are mostly bright yellow with mottled black markings. Females also tend to have shorter claws[citation needed]. In captivity female U. maliensis tend to mimic males in color. [5] Maliensis are, therefore, reputably difficult to breed in captivity.

[edit] Nutrition

These lizards acquire most of the water they need from the vegetation they ingest so they do not require a separate dish in their enclosure for water. They have rarely been observed drinking standing water. (They may urinate when frightened; this can rapidly deplete their crucial water stores.) The humidity of the enclosure must be kept low to prevent respiratory problems. Captive uros’ diets must be predominantly herbivorous, consisting primarily of endive, dandelion greens, bok choy, and escarole. Some lettuces have almost no nutritive value, but can be given once in a while as a water source. They can consume de-thorned cacti with their powerful jaws, especially if they need water. The lizards’ food should be frequently dusted with a calcium and a uromastyx designed supplement to help prevent health problems. It is very important to avoid spinach, chard, flowering kale, and parsley in the diets of all reptiles, since the oxalates in spinach prevent the uptake of calcium into the bloodstream. Some believe feeding insect foods, such as crickets and mealworms, should be avoided because of health problems, but many other breeders and hobbyists maintain that insects can be a small part of the animal’s diet (less than 10% of all foods eaten) without any danger to the lizard. A good diet plan is plant matter every day or every other day, and insects every month or two. Insect protein is difficult for uros’ livers to digest.

[edit] Captivity

Egyptian spiny-tailed lizard (Uromastyx aegyptius)

Historically, captive Uromastyx had a poor survival rate, due to a lack of understanding of their dietary and environmental needs. In recent years, knowledge has significantly increased, and appropriate diet and care has led to survival rates and longevity approaching and perhaps surpassing those in the wild.

The Mali Uromastyx (Uromastyx maliensis) is considered an ideal species to choose as a pet because they readily adapt to a captive environment. Another species of Uromastyx that adapts to captivity well, and comes in a wide variety of colors, is Uromastyx ocellata ornata. Artificial UVB/UVA light and vitamin supplements must be balanced with proper food and nutrition. Proper enclosures can be costly, as these are roaming animals with large space needs for their size, combined with the need to provide heat and ultraviolet light. Though the lizards bask at very high temperatures, there must be a temperature gradient within the enclosure allowing them to cool off away from the heat lamps. A cooling-down period over winter months can trigger the breeding response when temperatures rise in the spring. The temporary slowing-down of their metabolisms also lengthens the animals’ lifespans.

Uromastyx are burrowing lizards, and need substrate deep enough to burrow in, or a low structure under which to hide. In the wild, these lizards’ burrows can reach 305 cm (10 ft) in length.

[edit] References

  1. ^ Uromastyx (TSN 209040). Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved on 16 September 2008.
  2. ^ Uromastyx, The Reptiles Database
  3. ^ a b c Capula, Massimo; Behler (1989). Simon & Schuster’s Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of the World. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 259. ISBN 0671690981.
  4. ^ a b c d Vernet, Roland, Michel Lemire, Claude J. Grenot, and Jean-Marc Francaz. (1988). Ecophysiological comparisons between two large Saharan Lizards, Uromastix acanthinurus (Agamidae) and Varanus griseus (Varanidae). Journal of Arid Environments 14:187–200.
  5. ^ http://deerfernfarms.com/Uromastyx_Mali.htm

[edit] External links