The Ultimate Uromastyx Breeding Guide For Beginners

The problem of domesticating wild-caught species of lizards is one of the reasons breeding them artificially is encouraged.

In the case of uromastyx, there are about 15 different species specific to particular regions of Africa. Each of these species of uromastyx are distinctively different in appearance and bloodlines (genes).

As a result, breeding uromastyx artificially requires proper knowledge on the subject. Although the process is the same as other reptiles, the exact temperature requirement, length of daytime, and night time vary at the brumation stage. This is because uromastyx are arid dwelling lizards.

That said, you must read this article to the end for a detailed step-by-step guide on how to breed uromastyx. Apart from this, the article will answer all questions bordering around uromastyx breeding, egg-laying, incubation, hatching, and caring for the babies.

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What You Need To Know Upfront Before Breeding Uromastyx

What You Need To Know Upfront Before Breeding Uromastyx
What You Need To Know Upfront Before Breeding Uromastyx

Like with breeding other kinds of exotic pets, the first question you should answer is “what you intend to do with the babies after the eggs are hatched”?

You need to clarify this because your uromastyx will lay a clutch of about 18 fertile eggs or more. If you didn’t make provisions to care for babies as much as that, you’d make a terrible keeper.

Hence, to avoid offering poor husbandry to your uromastyx babies, you need to put things in place and ensure that the basic survival requirements are provided.

This is if you intend to care for the babies Uros yourself. If you want to breed your uromastyx for profit while they’re still babies, you may not need to bother about setting up different enclosures for them.

You need to know upfront before breeding uromastyx because each species of uromastyx is different in terms of genetic makeup.

Hence, crossbreeding two different species isn’t encouraged. This is to avoid creating lizards with genetic problems as with ball pythons.

Can A Male And Female Uromastyx Live Together?

Yes, a male and female uromastyx can live together. But only when they’re still babies or juveniles. Adult males and females uromastyx should not be kept together in the same enclosure except you intend to breed them.

Two or more females can also live together, although initially, they’ll behave aggressively towards each other.

How Old Does A Uromastyx Have To Be To Breed?

Once a clutch of uromastyx eggs successfully hatches, it takes about 3-4 years for the babies to become adults. At this age, the lizards are sexually mature enough to breed.

Uromastyx are not fast growers; hence, it may take some other species longer than four years to become adults. However, before you start to prepare your lizard at this age to start breeding, ensure that the lizard is in good health.

How Many Eggs Do Uromastyx Lay?

Uromastyx are known to lay many eggs after a successful mating session. They normally lay about 10-22 eggs and, in most cases 25 eggs.

Do Uromastyx Have A Breeding Season?

Yes, uromastyx have a particular time of the year that they breed. It usually occurs shortly after brumation in early March and April. In the wild, brumation starts during the colder months of winter to early spring (November to March).

After this period, they will usually become more interested in the opposite sex. Because of this unusual interest in the opposite sex, they would mate and breed. In captivity, to induce your Uros to start breeding, you’ll need to brumate them first before pairing them to mate.

Depending on your location, you can start the brumation process anywhere around November or December. However, this will differ if you’re in the southern hemisphere.

How Long After Mating Will Uromastyx Lay Eggs?

After successful mating, your Uros lizards will become pregnant (gravid) for about one month before laying her eggs. Signs that she’s gravid include an enlarged belly that stretches sideways. If you try touching it you’ll feel the outlines of eggs.

How To Breed Uromastyx In 9 Steps

Uromastyx Breeding in 9 Steps
Uromastyx Breeding in 9 Steps

The first step in breeding uromastyx or other reptiles is to get the breeding pair interested in the opposite sex.

This simply means taking the lizards through a hibernating period called brumation. This implies that you’ll have to gradually reduce the length of daytime by turning off the light and heat and reducing the number of times you offer food.

In the wild, brumation typically starts during the cold months of winter and ends at spring. After this period, they would naturally become more interested in the opposite sex and mate, and start breeding.

Hence, in captivity, you’ll need to allow them to brumate to get them in the mood. Note that brumation for reptiles isn’t only to get them prepared for mating/breeding.

Besides this purpose, it is a healthy factor in their care that must be done yearly. That’s why younger uromastyx that aren’t yet sexually active will still undergo brumation.

They don’t brumate with the view to breeding at this age but to stay healthy since brumation is part of their natural experience in the wild. That said, let’s see how to brumate the breeding pair in preparation for breeding.

Prepare The Female For Brumation

Depending on your geographical location, brumation starts in winter (that is December-March or July-August). But before you initiate the brumation process, make sure that the breeding pair is in good health.

Keeping in mind that uromastyx have many different species, ensure that your potential pair are of the same species. Avoid breeding different species with different bloodlines together.

Let’s assume your winter period is in December. To start the brumation process, you’ll need to reduce the amount of food you give your lizards starting from mid-November.

Reducing the quantity of food given at that time gives them ample time to digest the food properly. By December 1st, reduce the daytime lights to 6-8 hours per day. Also, reduce the temperature to about 75-80 F (23.8 C).

Once brumation is initiated, stop offering them more food (ideally once every two or three weeks). 2 weeks after the first daytime reduction, reduce daytime lights again to 4 hours per day.

Maintain this routine for about 5-6 weeks. By January 31st, restore lights (daytime) to 6 hours. 2 weeks after, take it to 8 hours a day. By February 28th, restore lights to 12 hours a day.

Note that the way you reduce the number of daytime lights is the same way you should restore it. During brumation, your uromastyx would come out once in a while to walk around for a few hours and then go back to sleep.

Make sure that you always keep a close watch on your lizard. Since no food is given coupled with low temperatures, they would normally look weak. This is normal. But to keep them hydrated, give them fresh water every few days.

Introducing Uromastyx Male And Female(S) For Breeding

The brumation period usually lasts for three months (from early December to the end of February).

Note that only cool uromastyx that have undergone brumation will come out ready to breed within a few weeks. Once the cooling period is over, give your lizards 1-3 weeks to fully recover before you pair them together to mate.

Pairing should start in mid-March or the end of March. However, do not pair your lizards together if your female isn’t looking healthy. If she has lost significant weight during brumation, ensure she’s back to health before pairing her with the male.

Restore all temperature and humidity to normal and offer more vegetables to get them hydrated.

Uromastyx Mating (Sometimes Fighting)

A male and female uromastyx mating
A male and female uromastyx mating

Initially, when the breeding pair are introduced to each other, they’re likely to fight and act aggressively towards each other. But within a few hours, they would settle in and start copulating.

Signs that they would copulate include marking the territory by rubbing, chasing, and head bobbing. When the male is ready to mate, he’ll bite the female on the neck and mate. But if the female isn’t ready to mate, she’ll turn and lay upside down.

Sometimes, you’ll not have a successful mating at the first attempt. If this happens, leave the lizards in the tank for a few more days. At the same time, keep a close watch on their behaviors.

If you notice any fight or if the male is stressing the female too much, separate them immediately. After a few days, reintroduce the male to the female’s tank again. Keep monitoring your lizards till a successful mating is archived.

To know that mating is taking place, you’ll see the male positioning himself on the female’s back and wiggling its tail next to the female until she raises it. When the female has raised her tail, the male will wrap his tail beneath hers to position his vent over hers.

All this time, he’s still biting and holding onto the fold of skin around the females’ neck. Once he’s able to insert his hemipenes into the female’s cloaca, know that mating is taking place, they would remain in this position for about 5-10 minutes.

How To Tell If A Uromastyx Is Gravid

To be gravid in lizards or reptiles generally means to be pregnant. After mating, your Uros will become pregnant to show that the mating was successful.

During this time, the gravid female will become big in the stomach. Her stomach will stretch sideways, which is an indication of egg formation. Her stomach will remain this way till after one month when she lays her eggs.

Uromastyx Laying Eggs

female uromastyx laying eggs
A few weeks after your uromastyx became gravid, she’ll lay eggs in a dry and save place

As noted earlier, it takes 4-5 weeks for a gravid female uromastyx to lay her eggs. Once it’s time for her to lay eggs, she’ll get into the egg-laying box you’ve already prepared and started digging to create a burrow for her eggs.

This is why you should use a substrate that will allow her to dig through. In a single clutch, uromastyx can lay between 8-22 eggs. You should always wait for her to finish before you transfer the eggs.

Egg-Laying Box Preparation For Your Uromastyx

The best time to prepare your gravid female an egg-laying box is when she’s still gravid. This way, before she lays the eggs, she’ll get used to the box and will use it when the need arises.

To prepare the egg-laying box, use a large box that she can enter and come out on its own without any assistance. Something like a shoebox will suffice.

Fill the box with either paper towels or a mixture of washed sand and moist vermiculite as the substrate. Place the box at the cool end of the enclosure.

If your lizard doesn’t use the box at that side of the enclosure, reposition it at the warm end and observe if it’ll use it. Keep in mind that before your lizard lays her eggs, she must get used to the box, which is where she’ll lay her eggs.

Substrate For Egg-Laying Box

The best substrate for the egg-laying box is the type that’ll allow the lizard to dig, lay, and bury her eggs. This is how they incubate their eggs in the wild.

Even though you’ll eventually remove the eggs to incubate them separately, the substrates for their egg-laying box should simulate the wild to give them comfort when laying. For this purpose, you can use any of these substrates.

Bird Seeds, millet, or moist play sand mixed with clay or topsoil. Refer to this article to see how to prepare the substrate.

Collecting Uromastyx Eggs And Transferring Them To An Incubation Box Or An Incubator

You’ll know that your female uromastyx has finished laying her eggs when she’s not digging her substrate to create burrows.

Once she’s done laying the eggs, carefully transfer the eggs to an incubator. While doing this, be careful to mark the sides of the eggs that face up.

Even if you happen to turn the eggs while transferring, ensure that you maintain the sides that face up while placing them in the incubator. By keeping to this precaution, you’ll not accidentally kill the embryo.

How To Incubate Uromastyx Eggs

First, to incubate your uromastyx eggs, place the eggs in a plastic incubation container in the same position in which they were laid. While placing the eggs in the incubation container, ensure space at least an inch apart to avoid molding.

As a substrate for the incubation container, use moistened perlite. Note that the substrate shouldn’t be dripping wet. It should only be moist enough to clump in your hands.

Once this is set, close the container tightly and place it in the incubator. Incubate the eggs at 92 F for the first 50 days. After that, increase the temperature to 93 F for the rest of the incubation period.

At least once a week check the eggs and weigh the containers to monitor evaporation levels. To know that you’re on track, a few days after you’ve placed the plastic container in the incubator, you’ll notice moisture building up on the sides of the plastic container.

If this doesn’t happen, you can add little water to the substrates. Alternatively, to boost the humidity level, place an open container of clean water in the base of the incubator. With this incubation method, your eggs should hatch between 60-70 days (that’s 4-6 weeks).

How Long Does It Take For Uromastyx Eggs To Hatch Successfully?

Be Patient! Your uromastyx babies are coming soon. When your eggs are in the incubator, you’re a few days away from having your uromastyx babies. It’ll take about 4-6 weeks (that’s two months and a half) for the eggs to hatch.

Until the eggs successfully hatch on their own, do not force them to remove them from the sac (shell).

Signs Of A Dead Uromastyx Egg

It’s easy to identify a dead egg from the fertile ones. A dead egg usually looks flabby and pale in color than the fertile eggs. In contrast, the fertile eggs look firm, oval, and brilliant in color.

To know if your uromastyx eggs are fertile, try to examine it from a spectrum of light to see if there’s any embryo. To archive this you’ll need to put the egg on a lighted torch in a poorly lighted room.

Roll the egg around on the light till you can spot a round-red-circle in the egg. That round reddish circle is the embryo, which is also called the circle of life.

You can do this for all the eggs before incubating to be sure they’re all fertile. Anything other than this is a dead egg.

How To Incubate Uromastyx Eggs Without An Incubator

One way to incubate your eggs without an incubator is to let the female incubate them naturally in the burrow where she laid them.

You’ll have to adjust the temperature and humidity levels in her enclosure to suit the incubation environment. This is a tedious and stressful method to monitor. Besides, you may end up having a very low hatching rate.

Another way you can incubate the eggs without a commercial incubator is to construct your home-made incubator.

To construct this you need a moist vermiculite or perlite substrate, plastic container, large box with holes on the lid, an under tank heater or water heater, thermometer, and hygrometer.

  • First step, fill the plastic container with either of the moist substrates and bury the eggs in it to about 50-60% (half of the egg). 
  • Place the plastic container in the larger box and fill it with water. Note that the water shouldn’t cover the plastic container that contains the eggs.
  • Using a water heater, heat the water to about 85-90 F. Use the thermometer and hygrometer to keep tabs on the actual temperature and humidity levels.
  • Occasionally check the eggs and temperature to ensure it’s at optimal levels.
  • Note: If you’re using an under tank heater to heat the box, you don’t need to add water to the box. Just place the plastic container containing the eggs in the box and heat the box with the under tank heater.

For further reading on how to breed and care for your pet uromastyx we recommend this book: Uromastyx: Natural History, Captive Care, Breeding (Spiny-Tailed Lizards) by Thomas Wilms.

Last update on 2021-06-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Uromastyx Lay Eggs Without Mating

Many female reptiles can lay eggs without mating with the male. In most cases, the eggs laid are infertile, while in some cases, you might be lucky to have fertile eggs. Uromastyx is one of such reptiles.

This is to say that uromastyx can lay fertile eggs without mating with a male. This is made possible because their body system can store up seminal fluid from their last mating till when they’re ready to use it.

While your uromastyx can lay eggs without mating, some calcium is used up. If this continues without corresponding calcium supplementation, it may result in dystocia (difficulty in laying eggs).

Thus, to get the best of it, when your lizard is gravid, provide some calcium-rich foods or supplements to help with the process. Also, ensure that your UVB lighting is working at optimal levels.

What To Remember When Taking Care Of Uromastyx Babies

Taking care of uromastyx babies isn’t a difficult task. After about a week, your new babies should be ready to eat. Refer to this article for lists of food for baby uromastyx.

They’re kept separately in 4×2 foot enclosures with the same cage setup, accessories, temperature, and humidity levels as with the adults.

Note that the substrates ideal for hatchings and younger uromastyx are non-particle substrates such as paper towels, newspaper, and tiles.

At this stage, do not introduce loose particle beddings to them. It might cause impaction if they eat it along with their food. 

Bonus – Will Uromastyx Eat Their Young?

No, uromastyx will not eat their young because they’re not carnivores. They’re strictly herbivores in the wild, and this should be replicated in captivity. 

Conclusion

Breeding uromastyx at home either for profit or to increase your number of pets is an exciting adventure.

However, what you’ll not want to do is crossbreeding two or more different species of uromastyx with different bloodlines. This can lead to creating offspring with serious health problems.

Where the main task lies in uromastyx breeding is in brumation and incubating the eggs. You must make No Mistakes both in temperature, humidity, and substrate for the incubation container in these two stages. 

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