Uromastyx Diet Foods & Feeding Techniques

Food

Uromastyx are primarily herbivores, with (usually) a taste for insects on the side. My primary diet is composed of fresh Collard greens, Kale (in moderation), Dandelion greens, mustard greens, turnup greens and other dark leafy greens. Also included are the more “bitter” lettuces as the escarole, endive and some napa cabbage. Napa cabbage is actually from the bok choy family as regular and red cabbage is bad for them. Thawed frozen mixed veggies (the peas, carrot, green bean, and corn) seems to be a favorite with my uro, but have read that too much peas can cause constipation problems. So far, this has not been a problem for her. Also have read that if supplemented with vitamins and calcium, peas do more good than bad. Finely chopped zucchini and carrot also are added to the mix. I tend to chop enough food for at least a week, so as to save time when feeding time comes. She is fed once a day and the unconsumed food is removed within 4-5 hours, since it will be pretty dried up by then. This is optional as I’ve found some uros tend to wait until things are pretty dried up. Don’t forget, out in the desert, there probably isn’t a whole lot of fresh juicy greens.

Chopped fruits, such as apple, strawberries, and other assorted berries are said to be a sought after food by the uros. Mine, however, doesn’t seem to care much for them. Approximately once a week, I’ll treat my Uro to 3-4 crickets. The crickets should not be any larger than the width of the Uro’s head. This usually holds true for most lizards. Also, unless coated with some calcium powder, the crickets don’t have much of a health advantage. Some Uros have lived comfortably on feeding every other day so you will need to familiarize yourself with the needs of your own pet. There is one thing that virtually everyone does agree on, and that is that you should not put water in the terrarium. The amendment to this, seems to be for geyri. Outdoor cages would probably be ok. All the moisture the Uro needs is obtained from the food. Too high of a humidity can create respiratory problems for the Uromastyx. Humidity is discussed on another page.

For uros that are acclimating, or seemed to have lost their appetite, we all know that this is not good. Drop in food intake, can lead to loss in metabolism, feeling bad, more loss of appetite, and so on. I’ve found that there isn’t any one sure thing that uros like. I think most will agree that each individual uro has it’s own personality and preferences. You’ll probably have to experiment in finding out what yours likes and dislikes. I’ve found that common “favorites” with many uros, may not be even liked with mine. Also, over time, tastes may change. Some of the “good” stuff that I’ve heard about and also discovered are the fresh yellow dandelion flowers (when I say fresh, I mean picked off my lawn), mustard greens, gazania rigens, commonly known as the “treasure flower”, of which Rocky goes nuts for, dry mix, and one that I got from Deer Fern Farms, bee pollen granules. If you just got the uros, I’ve found, accidentally, that the dry mix will get them eating. It’s been noted that a possible problem, is that if they’re dehydrated, the dry mix may make it worse. My opinion is that if they’re dehydrated, they’re not going to eat anything anyway. Make sure that if they appear to be not eating, that there is always a variety of food available anyway. Acclimation is kind of stressful for both the owner and the uro, but I haven’t read anything about uros not making it during acclimation.

Dry mix can be many different combinations of ingredients. Both my geyri eat daily from their supply of dry mix. It consists of dried split lentils, dried split peas, birdseed (with the sunflower seeds removed), dry juvenile iguana food, and bee pollen granules. Before Runako was eating his first fresh food (dandelion flowers) he was crunching away at his dry mix.

Needle-less Syringe Feeding

When Rocky appeared to “come down with something,” I’d just maxed out my credit card trying to save my female, so I was determined to do what I could on my own. He stopped eating, then, as he had in the past, he started to get lethargic, not moving around too much, and eyes closed most of the time. Last time this had happened, two big shots of fluids and a tube feeding turned things around. So I took it upon myself to head to the grocery store and get those baby food jars that read just like my uro’s dinner list. The vet gave me a 6cc syringe without a needle (let’s face it, I wanted to help, not make things worse), and I also picked up some pedialyte at the store. Twice a day to start, I’d take take a shot glass, not that I had any, and go 50% pedialyte and 50% baby food. Stir it up and place it in a water glass of the hottest tap water I could get. Once it warmed up, took him out and have everything ready to feed. Then, with a full syringe (6cc for a then 88 gram geyri) I’d work it in between his “lips” by the hinge of his mouth. Once he’d get a taste, he’d start “lickin’ his chops” and that’s when I’d put the whole tip of the syringe in his mouth, and start feeding it in. I found it easier if I held him at a 45+ degree angle, as he would start to open his throat area, and the whole contents of the syringe would go in. I don’t really think he’d swallow it until later, but as long as it wasn’t coming back out, I was ok with it. He didn’t stress or dislike it too much, as after, I could set him down on the couch, and he’d stroll around instead of running. I did this twice a day for about 1-2 weeks, then I would start to wean him down to once a day (twice a day here and there if I thought he’d take it in). Also, I’d start going with a bit more food and less pedialyte.

Eventually, in about 3-4 weeks, it was very noticeable that his energy, weight, and appetite came back. I now keep all the necessary stuff here in case I need it again. This is just a thought and not saying that this will help, but I can’t see why it would hurt. Rocky’s now plump enough that he looks like he’s “puffed” up in defense (little fatso). The heaviest he’s been before this, was 118gm, and as of mid May, he weighed in at 154 gm! (Note: The feeding with a needless syringe was done with Rocky because, for reasons unknown, he stopped eating, which caused his metabolism and energy to drop, cause dehydration, which in turn caused him to feel bad, therefore not to eat, and it spiraled down until he was outright lethargic. Only then did I resort to the baby food/pedialyte through the syringe.) I plan on video taping the feeding that I’ve done so people can put a “visual” to the attempted explanation.

Supplements

Supplements are important because, in most cases, Uros in captivity do not get enough of the needed vitamins and calcium. There are many different brands of supplements on the market, but 80% to 90% of people aggree on the same ones. For calcium supplements, Rep-cal, which is a phosphorous free supplement with vitamin D. For a vitamin supplement, Repti-vite powder is preferred. These powders are sprinkled on the food every other feeding to every third feeding. These, along with the UVB light, is sufficient to keep your Uro healthy. As of mid-May, Rocky and Runako have been put on a liquid calcium supplement. I either inject this into mealworms or drip onto their favorite foods. It seems that the powdered calcium just didn’t agree with their palette, and therefore, they weren’t eating it. This became apparent when I noticed Rocky having “muscle tremors” while he was relaxed. These showed up as his feet and toes involuntarily moving around, seemingly unbeknownst to him. These tremors were noticed before Lizzy, my mali, died and was diagnosed as calcium efficiency. After a shot from the vet, the next day the tremors were gone, and I switched to the liquid. I also started them on a probiotic to aid in keeping their bacteria levels normal. So far, all seems well.

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