Special thanks to Debb Wolfram

The Uromastyx macfadyeni also called Somali Uromastyx inhabits a small part of Somalia, between Berbera and Heis, close to the gulf of Aden. Until now, there is only little known about this species and further studies must be done. The weather of Somaliland is known as a semi- desert to desert climate, with big temperature differences between day and night. The area is very dry and consists mostly of rocks, but always with sand nearby for the females to lay their eggs.

Uromastyx are very territorial animals, and they live alone or in small groups with only one male and one or a few females. Males will fight, and can injure each other badly when put together, but also females can be very dominant to each other and cause troubles. It might even be difficult to keep a male and a female together in a terrarium all year round, and it’s advisable to have an extra cage ready in case they will fight. Uromastyx are diurnal lizards, very active during the day and basking a lot in front of their burrow, but they will retreat into their hides when the sense danger or when it gets too hot. From December until March, they will retreat into their hides for a resting period.

The U. Macfadyeni is the smallest of all Uromastyx, and will reach a total length of approximately 22 to 24 cm. There is still little known about this species as it is not often kept in captivity. Almost all animals found in the pet trade are wild caught animals and, they are pretty skittish and take a long time to acclimatise therefore making this Uromastyx much more difficult to keep. Even an acclimated macfadyeni will often stress with slight changes to routine such as a change in enclosure or lighting.

Males and females have the same spotted pattern on the back, but with different colours. Males being more brightly coloured with often a blue head and more blue and bright yellow on the back. While the females are more dull grey/brown coloured. When in danger, these lizards will quickly retreat into their burrows, and put their spiky tails in front of the entrance to keep enemies out.

As this is a pretty active lizard we recommend a pretty big terrarium, I keep them in a terrarium of 150cm x 65cm x 65cm. By creating a climbable back wall you can increase the floor space. The bigger the terrarium the better. By using flagstones and rocks, artificial hides can be made. Always make sure all rocks are safely secured and can’t fall on your lizard. (you won’t be the first one losing a reptile because it was crushed by a rock) As substrate I use washed play sand. You can decorate your terrarium with rocks flagstones and wood. Make sure there are enough hides in the terrarium, at least 1 for every animal. Uromastyx like to cramp themselves into their hides, keep that in mind and don’t make them too spacious.

As Uromastyx are real sun loving lizards there can’t be to much light in the cage. The lighting consists of an internally ballasted bulb (SB) from ReptileUV (Mega-ray 100W) which also produces heat, and a 60 W incandescent spot lamp. UVB lighting seems to be very important for the proper growth and behaviour of these lizards. Without it these animals cannot process calcium and will quickly become calcium deficient and parish. Besides this lizards can see more colours than humans, all the way into the UVB spectrum, this might play a role in finding food and courtship.

The lamps are on for 12 hours a day (summer 14 hours, winter 8 hours). Animals bask when the air temperature is about 30°C and become active almost immediately. The temperature under one spot can go as high as 55°C and a little cooler under the other spot lamp (40°C). Nightly temperature can be dropped to about 20°C. To get this temperature gradient you need to have a relatively large cages, and at least 2 light bulbs.

Mature and juvenile animals are fed 6-7 times a week. They eat mostly vegetable matter but an occasional locust or wax moth larvae isn’t refused. Insect matter must be kept to a minimum as there is a debate about how this would have a negative effect in the long run. A very important aspect of the diet is to vary the vegetable matter fed to your Uro. Animals were mainly fed protein rich veggies with endive as the number one. The endive is mixed with rasped grated carrots, dandelion (flowers and leaves), cabbages and paksoi. The seeds of paksoi are not eaten. They Uro’s love birdseed, pollen granules and lentils. The food is powdered with a calcium and vitamin supplement. 1-2 times a week the terrarium is misted about an hour before the lights are turned off to increase night time humidity. Normally a healthy Uromastyx will obtain the necessary water from his food and do not need a water bowl. But the Uromastyx macfadyeni is an exception, I place a little bowl inside the cage because it is set to be beneficial for this Uromastyx species. I have never see them use it, but I have been told that the macfadyeni drink from a very shallow dish on a regular basis.

Unfortunately not much is known about breeding this species. My female laid an infertile clutch this year (2008) and recovered quickly. I did not witness any mating activities, but I did notice that she was getting restless, and started digging. After a week she laid 8 infertile eggs. Hopefully I will have better luck next year.

Incubation of the eggs
Hope to tell you all about this next year.

Raising the juveniles
Hope to tell you all about this next year.

At the moment not much is known about this Uromastyx species, as all macfadyenis offered are Wild Caught animals, most of them are really skittish. That’s why I definitely will not recommend this species for the beginning Uromastyx keeper. I hope to be able to tell more about keeping this species in the future.


• Uromastyx plus other common Agamids – Jerry G Walls – isbn 1882770870 – The herpetocultural library

• Spiny-tailed Agamids: Uromastyx and Xenagama – R D Bartlett – isbn< 0764125729 – Barron’s

• Uromastyx – Thomas Wilms – isbn 3936180121 – Herpeton

• Dornschwanzagamen – Thomas Wilms – isbn 3980621472 –Herpeton
• Uromastyx and Butterfly Agamids – Jerry G Walls – isbn 079382074x – TFH Publications

• Basic care of Uromastyx Lizards – Philippe De Vosjoil – Advanced vivarium systems

• AVS Uromastyx – Jerry G Walls – Bowtie Pr

• Uromastyx verzamelnummer, 2005 – Stichting Doelgroep Groene Leguanen

• Draco 31, Dornschwanzagamen – Draco

• Reptilia 16, Dorschwanze – Reptilia