Breeding & keeping info

A new success in Uromastyx thomasi breeding at BION Terrarium Center

by Dmitri Tkachev,  Ivan Neizhko  & Anna Golenko

The Omani Spiny-tailed Lizard (Uromastyx thomasi) is one of about 18 species of genus Uromastyx. 

IMG 20150821 0001According to Thomas M.Wilms (Studybook Breeding Programme Uromastyx thomasi Oman-Spiny-tailed lizard, First annual report (2006) Uromastyx thomasi lives in coastal Oman. The status of the wild population is unknown, but preliminary investigations suggest, that this species is not common in wide parts of the range (WILMS, unpublished). The distribution area of U. thomasi has a length of approx. 600 km and a maximum width of 230 km. Obviously not all types of landscape (e.g. mountainous areas) represented in the natural range of the species are suitable for them as habitats. 

U.tomassi desert in Oman U.thomassi shelter

U.thomassi habitat

However, the results of laboratory research and international breeding projects give grounds for creating population ex situ.

U. thomasi are middle-sized mastigures with distinctive appearance and quite attractive coloration. They inhabits arid climate areas and are activedaytime. In fact, they need rather hot day temperatures to live and reproduce. Their diet includes seeds and different plants, but depends on season (live or drained plants, flowers, seeds).

At present this species is quite rare and endangered in nature. The U. thomassi research started  in 2000, when the first successful breeding was obtained in Germany.

BION Terrarium Center has been implementing it`s own breeding project of U. thomasi during last few years, and as of August 2015 we have already got 5 clutches (15 juveniles have hatched and 31 eggs are still on incubation) from 1 male and 4 females. We hope, it`s a beginning of long-term work with these amazing animals.

Typical enclosure conditions:

Cage: we use glass terrarium 90x70x65 cm for keeping adult pair or 1 male and 2 females. During the period of making clutches, females might be aggressive and animals need more control. Sometimes we keep them separately. In winter males are kept in separate cages.

Substrate: bank sand (for adults).

Decoration:  wooden, ceramic and stone shelters – at least 2 per cage.

Water bowl is necessary in breeding season only.

Lighting: we use full spectrum lamps 80 w and 300 w. The day length is 10-12 hours during a period of activity and 14 hours in breeding season. During winter season lighting is not needed but spot lamp only.

Temperature: during a period of activity we usually use a quality  lamps (Osram , Raptor, Zoo Med) 100 w or more depending on cage size, but the temperature at the enclosure should be controlled to avoid overheating. It should be +25-26º C at night and +29-32º C during daytime. The basking spot temperature achieves 55-60º C.

Humidity: around 50%.

Diet:

Adult lisards received food every second day. They prefer seeds (lentil, green peas), motley grass (dandelion, nettle, clover, mulberry, raspberry, blackberry, mint, plantain, knot-grass etc.) and flowers (rose, hibiscus, linden, robinia etc.). Using dried grass and flowers is also very useful out of season.

Mineral supplements: lump Calcium is always in feeding dishes.

Hibernation:

We reduce temperature and lights gradually from the beginning of January. In January-February we arrange about 2 weeks of rest at +23-26º C and without any lighting. The period of temperature and lighting increase follows later.

Breeding:

Breeding season starts with raising temperature and lighting and keeping pairs together.

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After 35-40 days of gravidity the female digs a clutch into a substrate (usually 10 to 15 eggs, 1 or 2 clutches per season). Within  this period the female feeds less.

Temperature of incubation: +29-33º C, usually +32º C.

Humidity for incubation: 60-70% (a drop of water should appear on the surface of substrate (vermiculite) after pressing it). Excessive humidity is dangerous.

Hatching occurs after 75-80 days.

Breeding in BION1212 Breeding in BION111e

 

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 Offsprings:

First time we keep our juveniles in groups of 5 individuals. Terrarium size is 600x400x450 mm.

Substrate: paper towels.

Decoration and lighting are the same, as for adults.

Temperature at the enclosure should be about +35-40º C, and +60º C at the basking spot (where ceramic shelter to seat on should be located).

We spray our babies twice a day (in the morning and over noon) with a small amount of water.

Young animals start feeding at the age of 2 or 3 days. In general, they feed on the same plants, as adults.

Calcium should be always available.

Veterinary

Health problems of U. thomasi aren`t studied enough, and we recommend to keep all rules of responsible care to avoid health problems of your pets.

Summary

We can indicate few important points from BION’s experience to keep your thomassi healthy & happy and let them to breed:

- always keep high temperature in a basking spot and use a quality lamps like Osram or Zoo Med  on a regular base ;

- keep low humidity level – around 50%;

provide your lizards with proper area = 1 sq.m  for adult  pair or trio;

 use proper diet  including fresh flowers and no fresh fruits at all;

use dry flowers from fall to spring – as the matter of fact they help to fix your lizards stomach problems if any.

Useful sources

 - Frank Glaw - Miguel Vences. 2007: Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Vences & Glaw Verlag GbR 3rd Edition. 496 pp. Germany

 - Randall L. Gray. 2003. Desert Lizards: Captive Husbandry and Propagation. Krieger Publishing Company. Malabar. Florida

 - Thomas M. Wilms, Species-Coordinator. 2006. Studbook / breeding Programme Oman-Spiny-tailed-Lizard (Uromastyx thomasi)

- Thomas Wilms. 2005. Uromastyx: Natural History, Captive Care, Breeding (Spiny-Tailed Lizards). Herpeton Verlag. 155 pp. Germany