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Uromastyx Not Eating: 12 Common Cause And How To Treat

Have you noticed your uromastyx lost its appetite or does not eat at all? This could initially alarm all pet owners and this can have multiple underlying reasons.

Although uromastyx can live without eating for a lengthy period, a change in appetite not associated with brumation or other valid reasons can be harmful. Your pet must immediately be taken to the veterinarian for assessment and diagnosis. This article contains the possible reasons for not eating and how you can deal with it.

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

12 Common Cause Uromastyx Not Eating

Uromastyx or spiny-tailed lizards are initially carnivorous in their juvenile and young phases. As they mature, they transition to a herbivorous diet, mainly consisting of vegetables, flowers, and a tiny quantity of fruit. They can go a long time, even up to a few weeks, without eating and it will not adversely affect them.

Juvenile and mature uromastyx can have no food for one to two months while brumating. Still, if you notice a loss of appetite in your uromastyx, the reasons could be the environment, temperature, lighting, diet, hydration, shedding, brumation, mouth infection, parasite and many more.

Environment Changing And Your Uromastyx  Needs To Time Adapt

When a uromastyx, or any reptile, has been subjected to a new environment, it is likely to feel stressed and frightened. In this time, the expected behavior includes frequent excessive hiding and sleeping.

You may expect your new pet, if it is six months or older, to avoid eating for one to two weeks which is still normal. However, baby uromastyx have to consume more food for proper growth and development.

The owner needs to prioritize keeping a safe space to allow the uromastyx to adjust and get used to its new surroundings. You must be patient and avoid force-feeding. It will eat when it is comfortable and ready.

Other Accompanying Signs/Symptoms

–   Unpredictable and easily scared

–   Weight loss

What Should Owners Do?

To prevent your uromastyx from feeling fearful of its new environment, you may cover the sides of its enclosure with a dark and breathable cloth. The ventilation holes must not be blocked. You must isolate your new pet for two to three months. Weigh it as well for safe track keeping.

Arrange the food in its enclosure by the hide so it would not be stressed to look for its food, and so it will be easy to locate for your pet. Try not to observe your pet while it is eating as it may feel shy or uncomfortable with the sight of you in the beginning.

If you notice that your pet has lost weight, take its feces to the veterinarian for assessment and detection of parasites. Lastly, do not handle your pet for at least two weeks.

Maybe Your Uromastyx Is Stressed

Stress does not only affect the appetite of your pet uromastyx. It can also influence its engagement with daily activities.

To give an instance, its new environment could be causing the stress. Your pet may take a few weeks to months to get used to its new habitat conditions.

Possible factors that cause stress include:

–   New surroundings

–   Incorrect temperatures in the enclosure

–   Very high humidity levels in the enclosure (exceeding 40%)

–   Wrong foods (i.e. excessive servings of dry foods, edible substrate, etc.)

–   Not enough hiding spots

–   Too many people are approaching the enclosure too soon

–   Loud noises or music around the enclosure

–   Handling the pet incorrectly, without warm-up, or for too long since the temperatures outside the tank are lower

–   Other reptile/s or pet/s in the same enclosure

Every so often, there could still be some factors that are difficult to determine. It is important to remember that too much and prolonged stress can cause a lack of appetite and eventually, the death of your pet.

stress can make your Uromastyx Not Eating
Reptile lizards get stressed easily and this can be caused by some factors such as a change in environment. When this happens, they don’t usually like eating.

Other Accompanying Signs/Symptoms

–   Frequent hiding

–   Lack of basking

–   Not pooping

–   Not much growth

–   Aggressive behavior when being handled

–   Weight loss

What Should Owners Do?

The ideal humidity level is 20 to 40% inside the enclosure. Make sure that there are adequate hiding spots, at least two, in the enclosure.

Your uromastyx must feel the hide in contact with its belly and back for a sense of security and safety. Handling your uromastyx for five to 15 minutes is enough. More than that will cause stress.

You must assess the current conditions of your uromastyx to pinpoint the exact reason for stress. When you suspect something, you can try to adjust to keep a safe and stress-free space for your pet.

Improper Temperature In Tank

The temperature in the enclosure could be too low or high. This must be realized soon to avoid causing problems with the appetite, digestion, energy level, and other health-related conditions.

If the temperature drops too much, your pet uromastyx will not be able to properly digest its food and it will begin to decay in the stomach. After some time, this will result in a loss of appetite, constipation, impaction, low energy levels, and a weakened immune system.

The optimal basking temperature is from 131 up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (55 and 60 degrees Celsius), with ambient hot side temperatures of 95 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (35 to 43.3 Celsius).

Your uromastyx should be able to cool down adequately on the cool side — the optimal temperatures are from 80 up to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (26.6 to 29.4 Celsius).

uromastyx not eating because of inappropriate temperature
Inappropriate cage set up such as a drop in temperature will make uromastyx loose interest in eating. Uromastyx and reptiles at large being cold blooded require external heat to digest their food. Hence, when a temperature is inappropriate it’ll cause the lizard to reduce eating or to stop it completely.

Other Accompanying Signs/Symptoms

–   Dehydrated (appears sluggish, is generally inactive, has sunken eyes and wrinkly skin)

–   Urates in the poop are too small or absent

–   Excessive sleeping

–   No energy to get up and move

What Should Owners Do?

First, you must measure the temperatures in different spots in the enclosure. The areas important to be measured are the basking area and inside the hides. You may use handheld infrared or thermometers for exact and accurate readings of temperatures in the environment.

The temperature declines at night and most owners won’t need to employ extra heating. The ideal evening temperature is from 70 up to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 24 degrees Celsius). Do not use any under-tank heating because uromastyx frequently dig, causing the core temperature to be disrupted and overheating to occur.

Lower the light bulb closer to the basking spot if the temperature in the basking spot is too low. To raise temperatures, you may either increase the wattage of the light or add another bulb. In a basking spot, use a ceramic tile or a rock since they can store a lot of heat.

You Supply Improper Lighting

When keeping your uromastyx in an enclosure, you must keep a bright light as this aids in the appetite and engagement in activities of your pet. Without adequate lighting, expect your pet to reduce its physical activity, it may sleep and hide a lot, and eat too little.

Other Accompanying Signs/Symptoms

–   Reduced activity

–   Excessive sleeping

–   Frequent hiding

–   Weight loss

keeping your uromastyx in a well lighted tank
To have an active uro, you must keep it ina well lighted enclosure.

What Should Owners Do?

Uromastyx require a strong UVB light output as well as a basking spot that is heated to 105 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

Choose a basking bulb or one with a daylight rating of 6500 Kelvins for the enclosure. Soft or cool white bulbs are insufficient for your uromastyx, therefore anything lower than that should be avoided. This is in addition to the UVB light. Most UVB tubes offer a color temperature of 6000 K or greater.

But, you will need another source of light as well such as a bright basking bulb. You should also ensure that a tiny portion of the tank is shaded.

Your Uromastyx Is Dehydrated

Your uromastyx will not consume food adequately if it is dry and fatigued. Many times, imported animals are dehydrated and slim. Although most uromastyx in captivity do not dehydrate easily, you will be able to determine if your pet is dehydrated if it is slow-moving and looks extremely thin.

Other Accompanying Signs/Symptoms

–   Sunken eyes

–   Wrinkling skin

–   No urates in the poop (white part)

–   If you pink the skin, it will not soon return to normal

What Should Owners Do?

Your uromastyx should have access to abundant freshwater. It should constantly be provided, even if they are not observed drinking. To enable them to soak, provide a small dish of water nearby.

Uromastyx may be kept at a humidity level of 15 to 30%. To help with shedding, a humidity box might be given. Excess wetness is bad for these lizards, so keep an eye on the humidity level in the cage with a hygrometer with a probe.

Do not include foods high in proteins while they are still dehydrated. Instead, construct a damp hide with wet moss inside for your uromastyx to use as needed. Soaking is not recommended unless the uromastyx is severely dehydrated.

For wild-caught uromastyx, you must supply a water dish a few hours per day in their enclosure. Sprinkle some vegetables and greens liberally with the water.

A uromastyx with a retain shed
A uromastyx with a retain shed problem

Your Uromastyx Has Improper Diet And They Don’t Like Foods

Like humans, each uromastyx has a specific set of likes and favorite tastes. Some owners feed their uromastyx the same vegetable or green for years and never change their diet. It is important to note that this will not only bore your uromastyx but will also cause nutritional deficiency.

Other Accompanying Signs/Symptoms

–   Low energy level

–   Frequent hiding

–   Weight loss

–   Not much growth

–   Dehydrated (appears sluggish, is generally inactive, has sunken eyes and wrinkly skin)

What Should Owners Do?

Always combine one to two staple type dark leafy greens, such as mustard leaves, collard greens, turnip greens, dandelion greens, endive, and chicory, with a kind of infrequent green or vegetable, such as watercress, squash, cucumber, sweet potato, bell pepper, lentils, and millet.

If your uromastyx is new, you will need to spend some time learning about its eating habits. Experiment with different vegetables and greens to know the food preferences of your pet.

You may provide goodies such as bee pollen and lentils once or twice a week as they are rich in proteins. The majority of uromastyx eat bee pollen, and practically all uromastyx eat lentils and beans. Pollen from bees is abundant in vitamins, minerals, and protein.

Moreover, it is an appetite stimulant. However, only serve high-protein dishes one to two times each week.

Your Uromastyx Doesn’t Like Where You Put Its Dish

Many uromastyx are fussy about the placement of their food dish in the enclosure. If you notice that your uromastyx is refusing to feed, it is worth experimenting with the dish and its positioning.

Other Accompanying Signs/Symptoms

–   Low energy level

–   Weight loss

–   Not much growth

–   Dehydrated (appears sluggish, is generally inactive, has sunken eyes and wrinkly skin)

What Should Owners Do?

Try scattering the food throughout the enclosure in various locations. Leave a few food pieces on the chilly side, a few in the center, and a few on the heated side.

Your pet uromastyx may not be able to eat when you are observing, it is best to keep a camera or phone to record so you would be able to assess if it worked.

Before And During Shedding

Before and during shedding, many uromastyx refuse to eat. Remember that it could be a difficult period for your uromastyx, so be patient.

Uromastyx under the age of two years may shed every month or two. But with age, they will shed less frequently, once every three to six months. Adult uromastyx over the age of three to four years will shed once or twice a year.

Other Accompanying Signs/Symptoms

–   The poor complexion and dull skin

–   Low vitality

–   A lot of rubbing against items in the enclosure

–   Sleeping and hiding more than usual

–   Being moody (aggressive when touched or handled)

–   Sticky skin around the head, toes, and tail after the shedding

What Should Owners Do?

On a daily basis, you need to serve a high-quality meal that contains all of the essential nutrients for your uromastyx. Similar to that of the significance of proper nutrition in keeping your body healthy and stronger, uromastyx needs it as well for a smooth shedding process.

Generally, lizards may be more willing to eat during the time of shedding. What must always be considered at this time is providing proper nutrition and well-balanced meals. What they eat is not important, as long as they are kept well.

Period Of Brumation

The brumation period is a time when some reptiles slow down to survive the colder months of winter. If you don’t change your uromastyx’s tank temperature, it might also go into brumation mode and hibernate.

When winter comes, some animals like the uromastyx take it as a time to sleep. However, they come out at different times throughout this period of hibernation so that they can eat little but still have enough strength for their next activity session.

This hibernation usually lasts from November through February or June until August in countries such as Australia where it is warmer than other places around the world with similar climates.

If you want to know if your pet is sick, its weight loss during brumation will tell all. A dehydrated Uromastyx will also be sluggish and inactive, with sunken eyes and wrinkly skin.

They also have a more difficult time tolerating stress in captivity than humidity or temperature changes because their natural moisture sources are killed off by these conditions.

Other Accompanying Signs/Symptoms

–   Lethargic 

What Should Owners Do?

There is nothing to worry about for the part of these pet owners. All they need to do is to create the best and most natural conditions (light and heat) for the uromastyx to prevent brumation.

This can be done by using a “hot end” to house hot incandescent basking lights and “cold end” for cooler fluorescent ones. This will result in the perfect temperature throughout the enclosure.

Your Uromastyx Is Gut Impacted

When the bowels are clogged with the substrate, food, or other foreign particles, the gut of your uromastyx is impacted. So, uromastyx refuses new meals. Food and substrate are the most common causes of uromastyx impaction. However, many uromastyx are unaffected by sand and dirt substrates.

Other Accompanying Signs/Symptoms

–   Lethargy

–   Thin poop

–   Pushing hard to poop

How to feed uromastyx: Tips and tricks [Source: Passion Reptile]

What Should Owners Do?

The owners should provide only a few amounts of vegetables and greens in the diet of uromastyx. This is to limit the roughages that may interfere with digestion and contribute to impaction.

You must provide soft, readily digested meals that are more gentle for their digestive systems. This includes meals that have been boiled or warmed (i.e. pureed pumpkin, apple, prunes, and watermelon), pumpkin from a can that is diluted with water, and sugar-free fruit drinks made entirely of fruit.

At first, an affected uromastyx may be hesitant to eat. Place a small amount of puree on their nose if you are having problems convincing them to try the new meal.

Even if they do not plan to consume it, they will probably lick it off reflexively. You may also pump a small amount of puree into their nose or mouth with a syringe.

While uromastyx are fond of digging and burrowing, the substrate you use in the enclosure must be carefully chosen. Until your uromastyx is three to four months old, avoid putting any loose substrate in the tank, such as sand or soil.

Your Uromastyx Is Infected With Parasites

In wild-caught reptiles, parasitic infection is prevalent, and it reduces appetite and inhibits growth and development. Take the fresh feces sample (two hours old or less) to the veterinarian for a comprehensive and accurate fecal test.

Other Accompanying Signs/Symptoms

–   Weight loss

–      ​​Lethargy

–   Sunken eyes

–   Poop is bloody, runny, or smelly

–   Lack of movement

What Should Owners Do?

Always check your uromastyx for parasites. You may also test the feces if you are unclear about its well-being. You will certainly be able to detect any concerning signs.

If the infection has not been verified, do not try to deworm your uromastyx yourself. Do not allow the vet to deworm as well. Wormers kill a lot of worms in the stomach which could put your pet in a risky position. This wreaks havoc on the intestinal flora.

Antibiotics are similar in that they are powerful treatments that will destroy bacteria in the stomach. This can make food digestion difficult, among other things.

Your Uromastyx Is Sick Or Has Infections

Your uromastyx may not eat as a result of a variety of diseases or illnesses. While uromastyx are tough, they can be harmed by prolonged stress or poor housing circumstances.

Infected Mouth. Mouth rot, for example, makes eating difficult for your uromastyx. Red gums, drooling, pus, and swelling are all indicators of a mouth rot infection.

Antibiotics, and a mouth rinse with antiseptic ingredients, are frequently required for treatment. Supplemental feeding may be done if it is too painful to eat.

Upper Respiratory Infection. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites can cause respiratory tract infections. Sneezing, drainage from the nose or eyes, bubbles coming from the mouth or nose, shallow or rapid breathing, reduced appetite, and fatigue are all symptoms of the disease.

Antibiotics, whether taken orally, intravenously or inhaled, are an important aspect of the treatment of bacterial respiratory tract infections. Different treatments will be recommended if parasites or fungi are present.

Metabolic bone disorder (MBD). MBD is diagnosed by a detailed examination of the diet and the presence of certain clinical indicators.

Pliable mandibles, rounded skulls, pathologic fractures (particularly humerus and femur), reluctance to move, and fibrous osteodystrophy of the long bones are all clinical symptoms in lizards. Paresis, muscular tremors, and seizures may occur in the advanced stages.

What Should Owners Do?

Examine and reassess the setup and take your uromastyx to a veterinarian right away if you suspect a disease or infection.

If your uromastyx has not been eating for a long time, it does not adequately supply its own body with energy and nutrients. So sad to say that It could be a sign of death. Read more article 08 Signs Of A Dying Uromastyx to understand the situation your pet is facing.

How Long Can Uromastyx Go Without Food?

During brumation, juveniles and older uromastyx can go without feeding for one to two months. A uromastyx will not die if it does not eat for a few weeks.

What Should You Do If Your Uromastyx Won’t Eat?

You may be worried about the eating habits of your uromastyx, and it is normal to feel this way when you just got your pet. Although they can go without food for quite a long time, a prolonged supply of food in the body could be detrimental or problematic. 

Identify The Correct Cause

Assess the current living conditions of your pet and determine what may be causing the lack of appetite. This may be in the environment, lighting, heating, shedding, placement of food dishes in the enclosure, the actual foods served, and many more. You will be able to pinpoint the exact reason upon observation.

Help Your Uromastyx Eat Again

If your uromastyx isn’t eating and is thin, you may start giving it critical care food for herbivores like this to keep it steady until you can receive additional treatment from a vet. Ensure that crucial treatment is reserved for herbivores rather than carnivores and insectivores. Your uromastyx should be able to eat on its own.

Force-feeding uromastyx is a horrible idea, as opening their mouths is difficult. You may have your veterinarian force feed your pet if necessary, and request a demonstration for educational purposes.

Last Sentences

Regularly weighing your uromastyx and examining the excrement are the two best methods to detect if it is properly and adequately eating. A rapid loss of weight or a lack of excrement signal a condition that a veterinarian must attend to.

Determining the exact cause and addressing the problem immediately will bring back the appetite and allow your pet to consume food.

Hope the article will help you take better care of your pet uromastyx.


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