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How Long Do Uromastyx Live? The Lifespan of These Remarkable Lizards

Many factors are usually considered when choosing a house pet, especially beginner-friendly pets. Two of these factors are easy to care requirements and longevity.

What you pay the most attention to or spend hours researching is a matter of your preference. Lifespan is such an important factor and part of pets’ life to research before deciding which pet to get.

Your knowledge of how long your pet can live in captivity and what can shorten its lifespan will help you provide it adequate care. This will go a long way to ensuring that your pet lives to full age.

This knowledge will also help you to know when your pet is likely to die, so you wouldn’t feel disappointed when it happens.

That said, for your new uromastyx pet, this article will give you information about its lifespan both in the wild and in captivity. You’ll also learn about factors that can shorten their lifespan and how to prevent or avoid them. Keep reading.

This article has been reviewed by Dr. Gospel. Read more about our knowledge control process here.

How Long Do Uromastyx Live In The Wild?

Uromastyx lifespan in the wild
Uromastyx lifespan in the wild

Uromastyx are long-lived pet lizards. They’re known to live for a reasonable number of years before they deteriorate in age.

In the wild, uromastyx has a lifespan of 15 years. That is their average lifespan in the wild. If they aren’t killed much earlier by predators, uromastyx can live for as long as 20-30 years or even more.

Their chances of getting killed by predators are dependent on their origin and natural habitat. Some species of uromastyx are native to the Southern part of Israel, where their natural habitat is a desert characterized by a hot, rocky, and dry environment.

In this region, there are more rocks than trees or plants. There are also not many giant animals that can threaten their security. For this species, they can live for as long as 30 years or more.

Uromastyx Lifespan In Captivity

Uromastyx lifespan in captivity
Uromastyx lifespan in captivity

In captivity, uromastyx is likely to thrive longer than the ones in the wild. As pets, they have better care than the ones in the wild. Also, there are no predators that can threaten their security in captivity.

According to research conducted by Olivier S. G. Pauwels et al in 2017, the longest-lived uromastyx in captivity lived for 46 years. This uromastyx was kept at Britany, France, and was later relocated in 1980 to Valencia in Spain.

On average, uromastyx in captivity live for 22 years. However, with great care and correct housing requirements, they can live up to 33 years in captivity.

Like I said, without good care and optimal husbandry, uromastyx in captivity can have a short lifespan. Improper care and husbandry can bring in diseases and infections that’ll lead to an untimely death. Read on to find out more.

How To Maximize Uromastyx Lifespan

To make the most out of any exotic pet animal, the key is to replicate its natural habitat in captivity. This will include replicating its diet, temperature requirements, and every other factor in its natural environment.

To this end, to maximize the lifespan of your pet uromastyx, you must know how these factors listed below can affect their longevity. And optimally, you have to ensure that you provide it good care in this regard.

That said, these are the areas you need to ensure adequate care. They include feeding your uromastyx the right food and from the right source, housing your uromastyx in the right cage size with the correct temperature and humidity.

Feeding Uromastyx The Right Foods

Uromastyxnatural habitat is dessert. Their diet comprises green plants. This is to say that they’re strict herbivores. Very little documentation shows that they do eat insects and other animal proteins in the wild.

In research conducted by Highfield A. and T. Slimani in Morocco, the Uromastyx Acanthurus species found eating various insects, especially beetles and ants.

The research says young uromastyx are known to be more insectivorous than adults.

However, there is some documentation to prove that the body system of uromastyx isn’t capable of handling animal protein.

Thus, to maximize your uromastyx’s lifespan, you can offer them some crickets or insects once in a while as treats, they’ll still do very fine without it. And this is to point out that overfeeding of insects or crickets in their diets can cause serious health problems, thence, shorten their life.

For this reason, you should avoid it. Uromastyx get all the nutrients they need, including water from their food.

The vegetable or green plants to feed to your uromastyx are turnip greens, kale, spinach, parsley, collard greens, mustard greens, spring mix, dandelion greens, broccoli, Swiss chard, okra, green beans, peas, carrot, pumpkin, and many more.

Read up on their diet to know all the greeny leaves you can feed your lizard.

Dietary Supplements

Are supplements the significant contributor to uromastyx lifespan? No!

Do supplements help to maximize their lifespan? Yes.

As uromastyx get older, they deteriorate in age. Their vision degrades, their retinal cell layers deteriorate, especially the outer segments of their photoreceptor and pigmented epithelium.

They also have increased oxidative stress and their melanin granules are replaced by lipofuscins. For this reason, your pet uromastyx will need supplemental vitamins to stay healthy. Two of such vitamins are vitamins A and D.

To offer variety to your pet uromastyx, you can introduce other food items such as millets, sprouting lentils, and dry lentils to their diet. Also, to maintain a balanced phosphorus and calcium level, they need supplemental calcium in their diet.

To achieve this, you’ll need to dust calcium supplements in their food every 2-3 times a week. This will go a long way to prevent the bone called Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD).

Foods To Avoid to Maximize Uromastyx Lifespan

What You Should Not Feed Uromastyx?

To maximize Uros lifespan, owners should avoid pale greens such as iceberg lettuce or celery tops. These foods are seen to be toxic to their system.

High protein foods are also hazardous to pet uromastyx, especially to dehydrated uromastyx.

The reason is that it overworked the kidneys and liver as it takes longer hours-days to digest. If you continue to feed a proteinous diet to your Uros, it may completely break down the liver, then will shorten their life in captivity.

07 Factors That Can Shorten Uromastyx Lifespan- In The Wild And In Captivity

Factors That Can Shorten Uromastyx Lifespan
Factors That Can Shorten Uromastyx Lifespan

There aren’t specific known predators to these species of lizards in the wild. Depending on the location, adult uromastyx are often predated by wolves and raptors. But this is very rare because adult uromastyx will escape as soon as they notice a predator.

The ones prone to attacks are juveniles. Juvenile uromastyx are prey to snakes, shrikes, and monitor lizards. In captivity, there are no predators, so their lifespan isn’t affected.

However, other factors peculiar to captivity, such as poor care, poor husbandry, and diseases, are likely to shorten uromastyx lifespan.

Let’s look at those factors in detail.

Wrong Diet In Young Uromastyx

Wrong diet is a significant reason shorten your Uros lifespan.

As earlier stated, young and juvenile uromastyx are more insectivorous than adults. They prefer eating insects and ants more than they consume leaves.

There may be a scientific explanation to this, but it hasn’t yet been postulated. Note that in uromastyx natural habitat, the plants they eat are highly fibrous. Since the desert soil has high salt content, most of the plants they eat also have this high salt concentration on their leaves.

Although uromastyx have special glands in their nostrils that can eliminate extra salt without eliminating water, the young uromastyx might not be well developed to start digesting them. This may be part of the reasons young uromastyx tend to be more insectivorous.

However, being that in captivity, these kinds of plants with high salt concentrates wouldn’t be easily seen, it’ll be best to feed young uromastyx more of green leaves with occasional insects and ants.

Impaction In Uromastyx

Impaction is another factor that can shorten the lifespan of uromastyx in captivity. Causes of impaction are often a result of using a wrong substrate for the lizard.

Wrong substrates such as calcium-sand and walnut shells can cause impaction to uromastyx if swallowed. The natural habitat of uromastyx consists of these three types of deserts:

  • The ‘gravelly’ desert where a mantle of loose fragments covered with a remarkable desert varnish overlies a sandy layer that is sufficiently coherent to support their burrow.
  • The sandy desert (small drifting sand and dunes overlying the rocky layers).
  • The ‘solid rock’ desert where they find refuge in rock crevices and under fallen boulders.

Although uromastyx are reported to inhabit all these three habitats, a great number of them are from the solid rocky desert environment. Thus, in captivity, your substrate should include some rocks of different sizes to replicate uromastyx natural habitat.

This will ensure that your uromastyx doesn’t swallow its bedding along with its food. Besides, if you include some rocks in their enclosure, it’ll help retain some heat needed by your uromastyx. Sand doesn’t retain heat as rocks would. 

Symptoms Of Impaction

Like with other ill-health types, impaction has symptoms that will let you know that something is wrong with your lizard.

These include the inability to poop, bump along the spine, not walking properly- that is dragging one or both hind legs, regurgitation, lack of appetite, and lethargy.

Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) In Uromastyx

Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) is a common disease in pet lizards. It is a disease of the bone resulting from calcium deficiency or calcium/phosphorus imbalance.

MBD is a disease that play a vital role in uromastyx lifespan.

Wild-caught lizards get the desired amount of calcium they need from UVB or food or both. With the right amount of exposure to either direct sunlight or daylight, they’re able to manufacture enough calcium for their bones.

In captivity, this has to be replicated to ensure that the lizard has strong and healthy bones. For uromastyx, without UVB rays, they can’t properly synthesize calcium.

For this reason, the bones will lack in calcium to a point the bones start deteriorating. Uromastyx with MBD often shows signs of weakness in the bone and tends to have a shorter lifespan.

Symptoms Of Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)

Symptoms of Metabolic Bone Disease include general weakness of the body, which can lead to:

  • Fracture
  • Bowed or swollen legs
  • Arched spine or bumps along
  • Spine bones
  • Swelling and softening of the jaw
  • Limping and lameness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • twitching in the muscles of the legs and toes.

Treating Metabolic Bone Disease In Uromastyx

In severe cases, metabolic bone disease in pet lizards is best treated by an experienced vet. This will include administering oral calcium glubionate and calcium gluconate SC.

For reptiles with hypocalcemia (a shallow level of calcium in the blood), IM or IC can be administered.

As earlier stated, these treatments are better administered by a vet. Besides, as a good pet owner, you should know that the best treatment for MBD and any other diseases that can shorten the lifespan of your uromastyx is A PROPER HUSBANDRY.

This includes balanced diets where the proportion of calcium and phosphorus is kept at optimal levels. Providing good UVB bulbs together with calcium supplements.

Preventing Metabolic Bone Disease In Uromastyx

Preventing diseases in pet lizards is always better and cheaper than trying to cure it. This will save money and also save your pet the stress of going to a vet.

  • Since Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) is a disease resulting from calcium deficiency, ensuring that your reptile has enough of it is important.
  • For uromastyx who synthesize calcium in their body through UVB, ensure that you have a good UVB lamp.
  • Replace all UVB bulbs after every six months in use. This will ensure that the bulbs emit effective UVB.
  • In situations you’re not sure if your UVB bulb is emitting the required UVB, supplementation of calcium and vitamin D3 should be included in their diet. 

Infections In Uromastyx

Infections are other factors that can shorten the lifespan of uromastyx in captivity. Infections can be external or internal, and it is usually a disease resulting from wrong humidity.

Uromastyx natural habitat is a hot desert with temperatures as high as 188° F in direct sunlight. In this regard, they would do just fine with low humidity.

They require a humidity level of about 30% in captivity. Humidity higher than this would constitute health problems for them.

Common Types Of Uromastyx Infections

Some common types of infections in pet uromastyx include:

  • Tail Rot – this is an infection that affects the tail of the lizard caused by too much wetness of the enclosure. It can also be a result of not drying the lizard properly after a soak.
  • Respiratory Infection.
  • Scale rot.

Tips To Avoid Infections In Uromastyx

The major cause of infections in captive uromastyx is poor husbandry. Poor husbandry, in specific terms, includes high humidity levels and poor hygiene.

Humidity levels higher than 30% will make the enclosure too moist and capable of breeding bacteria and viruses.

Keeping two or more uromastyx together where one is infected can also help spread bacteria and diseases. Hence, for optimal husbandry ensure to go by the following tips:

  • Ensure that the humidity level of the enclosure is kept at the normal range. To keep tabs on the accurate level, ensure that you use a hygrometer to measure the humidity level.
  • Although two or more uromastyx can be kept together successfully, ensure that infected uromastyx are housed separately from those that are not infected.
  • Always wash your hands before handling your pets and after handling them.
  • Clean out poops and food particles as soon as they poop or finish eating.
  • Ensure to do a general clean up of the entire enclosure and change the beddings if it gets too wet.
  • Ensure that the temperature of the cage is maintained at an appropriate level.

From time to time, evaluate your husbandry to detect any fault on time.

Parasites In Uromastyx

Since uromastyx requires an extremely hot enclosure in captivity, if you’re good with your care, you shouldn’t have parasites problems. This is because it will be too hot for disease-causing parasites to thrive in it.

But your pet uromastyx is likely to be plagued with parasites if the heating and humidity aren’t within expected levels. Parasite infestation in pet uromastyx can shorten their lifespan if not detected and treated in time.

What parasites do to their hosts is to feed on them till their immune system becomes too weak to fight off diseases.

Vitamin Issues In Uromastyx

Vitamins play essential roles in pet Uromastyx. Vitamins help in building their body and maintaining immune function. Common vitamin related issues include:

-Hypovitaminosis A

Vitamin A is an important source in the body of uromastyx as it aids clear vision. It also plays a vital role in maintaining immune function, maintaining normal epithelial tissues, growth, and reproduction.

Being that vitamin A is stored in the liver, excess of it (hypervitaminosis) is highly toxic to their body. Hypervitaminosis in uromastyx overworked the liver and its storage capability.

As a result, the affected lizard will experience severe tissue damage. This condition is usually manifested physically by dry, flaky skin.

On the other hand, hypovitaminosis is as bad as or even worse than hypervitaminosis. Hypovitaminosis is a condition where there is an insufficient level of vitamin A in the body.

As noted earlier, vitamin A is needed for clear vision. If your pet uromastyx is lacking it, it’ll start developing eye problems. In the long run, if left unattended, these conditions can shorten the lifespan of captive uromastyx.

-Other Hypothiaminosis

Uromastyx do not only need vitamin A to thrive. They also need vitamin D3. What vitamin D3 does is to help them to absorb calcium from their meals.

Naturally, they get the right amount of vitamin D3 from the sun in the wild via UVB. Thus, in captivity, they would need a good UVB emitting bulb, and some vitamin D3 supplementation to maintain a balanced calcium/phosphorus level.

If this vitamin is deficient in their bodies, it will lead to a calcium/phosphorus imbalance. That will also lead to metabolic bone disease in the long run.

Eyes Problems In Uromastyx

The major cause of eye problems in pet uromastyx is the lack of vitamin A (hypovitaminosis). However, aside from vitamin A deficiency in their bodies, old age also causes eye problems to pet uromastyx.

As uromastyx ages, their body systems and functions start deteriorating. This includes a degraded vision and retinal cell layers- (especially the outer segments of their photoreceptor and pigmented epithelium).

Wrapping Up

Uromastyx is one of the most popular house pets like other reptile lizards, such as bearded dragons. Interest in them as pets started to grow some 53 years ago.

But even with this, the number of herpetologists that keep them as pets is still considerably low compared to other lizards species. This, in no way, has anything to do with its care.

When it comes to caring for uromastyx, they have simple and easy husbandry requirements. That’s why they make good beginner pets. Both in captivity and in the wild, they have a long lifespan of 15 years or at most 20 years.

Nonetheless, with optimum care, they can live as long as 30 years in captivity. But if your husbandry is faulty, diseases and infections can set in thereby shortening its lifespan. As a good keeper, you’re to evaluate your husbandry continually.

By doing this, you ensure that all factors capable of shortening your uromastyx lifespan are eliminated.

In a nutshell, ensure that you read more on the care requirements of your uromastyx lizard.

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