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Uromastyx Substrate: The 5 Best And Safest Substrates

Substrates for pet uromastyx is as important as their lighting, heating, and food. Being that many things can be used as beddings for pet lizards, you may find it difficult to choose the right substrates for your uromastyx.

It’s not always easy to make the right choice when it comes to substrates for uromastyx. The reason is that your pet uromastyx needs a different kind of substrate from other species of lizards.

This topic is one of the most debated upon in uromastyx care. Knowing how hard it is to make the right choice, we have decided to list the best substrates for pet uromastyx.

In this article, you’ll learn about the different types of substrates for uromastyx and how much you should use. You’ll also learn how these substrates help in creating a suitable habitat for uromastyx.

Keep reading!

What Are The Different Kinds Of Uromastyx Substrates?

The Different Kinds Of Uromastyx Substrates
The Different Kinds Of Uromastyx Substrates

There are about 15 different species of uromastyx. Each of these species is native to different parts of North Africa, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania, and Egypt.

Different types of soils have been identified in each of these regions to make up the uromastyx habitat.

In captivity, you can choose either to use loose particle substrates (to simulate their natural environment) or non-particle substrates.

As stated earlier, your uromastyx will need a different kind of substrate from other species of lizards. The reason is that uromastyx have the instinct of eating up their substrates.

Thus, to avoid impaction, you’ll have to ensure that its substrate is harmless.

Loose Particle Substrates

In simple terms, these are substrates with particles and whose particles are semi-detached (separated) from each other. These kinds of substrates comprise many different and individual pieces of material.

Examples of loose particle substrates include wood chips and shavings, play sand, calcium sand, alfalfa pellets, millets, crushed walnut shells, and many more.

Being that the particles that make up the substrates are loose, it encourages burrowing. Simultaneously, this kind of substrate poses a health risk of impaction depending on the size and type of particles.

Non-Particle Substrates

As the name implies, the non-particle substrates are solid forms of substrates. They have no particles and, because of that, cannot cause impaction. Examples include reptile carpet, newspaper, paper towels, ceramic tile, and many more.

Having said this, which one of these substrates would make good substrates for uromastyx? Read on to find out.

The Best Substrates For Uromastyx

Best Uromastyx Substrates
Best Uromastyx Substrates

The best substrates for uromastyx will be the types that don’t hold onto moisture or raise humidity levels. It’ll also be the type that replicates their natural habitat, and at the same time, give room for natural activities as though in the wild.

This would include digging and burrowing. Hence, the best type of substrates for pet uromastyx is the loose particle substrates.

This type of substrate is particularly ideal for adult uros. On the contrary, pet uromastyx can be kept on non-particle substrates such as paper towels and newspapers.

But this will not be a replication of their wild nature. To give you a list of products to choose from, below is the review of the best substrates for pet uromastyx.

Best Uromastyx Substrates #1 – Washed Play-Sand Mixed With Clay And Large Rocks Or Granites

Last update on 2022-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The natural habitat of uromastyx is a hard rocky surface where the lizards will have to dig their burrows or use some caves beneath rocks.

Although uromastyx have been identified in three different soil types, including sand, they are most commonly found in the rocky region. This is why a mixture of washed play sand, clay, and some rocks will make an ideal substrate for them in captivity.

This kind of substrate is an example of loose particle substrates. With this substrate, you can create a natural environment for them in captivity. This will enable them to dig their burrows.

Since 100% of sand isn’t recommended to avoid impaction, you’ll have to use not more than 70% sand and not less than 30% clay.

Ensure you mix the two components thoroughly and add some medium or large-sized rocks or granites to simulate their wild habitat. To achieve a natural environment for them, avoid using small pebbles or rocks that they can swallow.

For the play sand and clay, we recommend using the Zilla Jungle mix and Zoo Med Excavator.

These two products are perfect for making substrates for pet uromastyx. Aside from giving the enclosure a natural look, they hold up rocks in place so you wouldn’t worry about the rocks falling apart.

These products make solid surfaces when dried. That said, you can use it to mold any structure you desire in your lizard’s enclosure.

What You’ll Have To Note When Using This Substrate

  • Ensure that you keep it clean always. That is, scoop out poops as soon as it is dropped.
  • Replace the substrates with a fresh one when necessary. At least once a month.
  • Note that this type of substrate can still cause impaction if ingested along with food. For that reason, ensure that you mold the substrates back when it scatters.
  • Supervise your lizard while feeding to ensure that it doesn’t eat its substrates along with its food. If you notice symptoms of impaction in your lizard, discontinue use.

Best Uromastyx Substrates #2 – Washed Play-Sand Mixed With Topsoil And Large Rocks

Last update on 2022-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is another type of loose particle substrate. However, instead of using washed play sand and clay as with the first example, you can use play sand and topsoil.

To make this, you’ll need 40% of play sand and 60% of topsoil. Note that your uromastyx must be at least 3-4 months old or even older to use this type of substrate.

Ensure you follow all precautions listed above to have an ideal enclosure. Note That You Should Never Keep Your Pet Uromastyx On Pure Sand.

Best Uromastyx Substrates #3 – Slate Tiles Or Ceramic Tiles

Last update on 2022-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Using tiles as beddings will be an ideal option if you want something that’s easy to clean and at the same time retains heat.

But note that this is a non-particle substrate. Thus, your lizard can’t burrow in it. However, to make it more comfortable for your pet, you can add some paper towels or newspaper to it where your lizard can burrow.

If you opt for this bedding type, you should ensure that the tile is a ceramic baking stone and non-porous.

Besides, very smooth surface tiles aren’t recommended as well.

Best Uromastyx Substrates #4 – Using A Mixture Of Different Substrate Types

Last update on 2022-12-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Yes, it’s jaw-dropping and fantastic. Using different types of beddings on different sides of the cage is a great choice. This means that you can use loose particle substrates together with one or two non-particle substrates.

This way, your pet will have a variety of substrates to explore. At the same time, you can monitor to know what works well for your uromastyx or which beddings it prefers.

To achieve this, divide the cage into 3 sides or segments – the hot spot, middle, and cool spot. On the hot spot, you can use ceramic tile, which will help retain heat. If you’re using tiles, ensure that it’s not too hot.

You can use either tile, bird seeds, newspaper, paper towels, or alfalfa pellets in the middle. This is also the region where you should place its food dish.

On the cool side, you should use any of the loose substrates. Make it about 5-7 inches high to give room for burrowing. Note that loose substrates are best for adult uromastyx. When they are still babies, avoid loose substrates.

One beautiful thing with this choice of setup is that, while cleaning, you can change the arrangement and positioning of the beddings and cage accessories.

Best Uromastyx Substrates #5 – Newspaper/Paper Towels

This is one of the best substrates for uromastyx pets. It is an example of non-particle substrates.

Although this type of substrate will not give your lizard that naturalistic habitat, it is the cheapest and safest substrate for any pet lizard, including uromastyx.

An interview with some keepers who use this for their uromastyx proves that newspaper and paper towels make great substrates for pet uromastyx. With these substrates, they stand no risk of being impacted or infected.

Moreover, it is easy to clean, maintain, and cheap to replace. This type of substrate is particularly ideal for baby and juvenile uromastyx. When your lizard grows older and bigger, you can use the loose particle type of substrates to encourage burrowing.

Other Kinds Of Uromastyx Substrates

Besides the substrates listed above, keepers use other things as beddings for their pet uros. For some reason, some of these beddings aren’t too and shouldn’t be used for too long.

One of the reasons some of these beddings aren’t recommended is because they don’t hold up the heat. Uromastyx are desert-dwelling lizards, which implies that in captivity, they require high temperature and low humidity.

Thus, if the enclosure isn’t heated as supposed to be, it’ll cause some health issues like infection. That said, examples of other kinds of substrates include:

Wood Chips/Shavings Substrates For Uromastyx

Last update on 2022-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Wood chips or shavings include cypress mulch, cedar, pine, spruce, larch, and many more. These beddings are known to be harmful to uromastyx in captivity. It contains toxic oils that can damage the respiratory system.

Besides, these beddings do not retain as much heat as uromastyx want. Not only will this type of bedding ruin the humidity levels, but it can also cause impaction to your lizard if ingested.

Millet Substrates For Uromastyx

Using millets or bird seeds is also a good option for uromastyx beddings. It allows them to burrow and also serve as a treat. It is also easy to clean.

However, the only bad side of millets or birdseed substrates is when your lizards eat too much of it. Birdseed is believed to be part of what they occasionally eat in the wild.

Hence, by instinct, your pet uromastyx is likely to eat up its beddings. If eaten in a small quantity, they’ll not have any health issues. But too much of it (bird seeds or millet) will lead to dehydration, which will cause impaction in the long run.

If you’re using birdseed or millets as substrates for your uros, be careful that they don’t eat much of it. If this happens, change your choice of substrate.

Alfalfa Pellets Substrates For Uromastyx

Last update on 2022-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Alfalfa pellets are similar to millets and bird seeds. It is edible but can cause health issues if consumed in excess. This bedding will allow your uromastyx to burrow but will not retain heat as much as your lizard needs.

If you aren’t sure of your cage temperatures, it’s best to avoid using alfalfa pellets as beddings. Not using it will ensure that your humidity levels are appropriate.

How To Keep Uromastyx Substrate Clean

Whichever type of substrates you choose, cleaning it up isn’t a difficult task. Uromastyx don’t drop poops quite often. And their poops are always solid and less offensive. To keep the cage clean, follow these steps below:

  • Scoop out poops immediately after it is dropped or as soon as you notice it.
  • Clean out leftover foods once your lizard is done eating.
  • If you’re using any of the loose particle substrates, refill it each time you clean out poops or at least once every month.

Wrapping Up

Many types of loose particle substrates ideal for other pet lizards are not suitable for uromastyx. For such substrates, pet uromastyx stand a greater chance of being impacted if ingested.

Because of this, you’ll have to avoid them in their enclosure. Keep in mind that even though uromastyx are arid dwelling lizards, they do not do best on sand substrates in captivity. Their natural habitat is mostly rocky outcrops and clay-based soils.

Hence, choosing calci-sand (that is sand made from calcium carbonate), wood shavings or wood chips, and crushed walnut shells aren’t good substrate choices. These substrates can cause impaction. 

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