A common concern when considering getting a pet lizard is if it will bite you and how much being bitten would hurt. Uromastyx are tough lizards which means that you don’t need to worry too much about inadvertently injuring them during handling. But should you be worried about a uro biting you?
Uromastyx can bite but they’re typically mellow lizards that prefer other defensive tactics. If these don’t work and the uromastyx feels threatened, it may resort to biting. However, the bite itself isn’t too serious since Uromastyx teeth, although sharp, are too short to cause humans any real harm.
In this article, we dig into why a uro might bite, how much their bites hurt, share some tips on what do do if you get bitten, and provide some steps you can follow to prevent a uromastyx from biting you in the first place!
Table of Contents
Why Do Uromastyx Bite?
It’s important to note that Uromastyx usually only bite when they feel they have no other option.
In the wild, uros hide from predators in their burrows or wedge themselves into a rocky crevice and inflate their bodies to make themselves difficult to remove.
If a uromastyx can’t do this, it’ll wave its fearsome-looking tail, hiss and open its mouth to try to intimidate the attacker to discourage further aggression.
When a threat is very close, uromastyx will lash out with its tail. If these tactics fail, an uromastyx may bite to defend itself. Since uros in captivity rely on the same defensive tactics, they rarely bite.
Do Uromastyx Bites Hurt?
Uromastyx bites can sting, but they often startle more than they hurt. An uromastyx short, sharp teeth are great at cutting up their leafy diet but not so good at tearing into flesh. This makes it unlikely for an uro bite to draw blood.
A recent study of the bite force produced by uromastyx geyri recorded the strongest bite as 31.4 Newtons. To put this into perspective, an adult human typically has a bite force between 1,100 and 1,300 Newtons.
So, being bitten by an adult uromastyx is less painful than you might expect for such a tough-looking lizard. Bites from a baby uros are even less painful and you’ll probably only feel a light pinch.
What Happens If A Uromastyx Bites You?
If a uro bites you, the best thing to do is remain calm. Never try to pull or yank a uromastyx off, as this can harm it and cause you further damage. Support the uro so it’s not hanging off you, and give it time to let go on its own.
You might find that placing a light towel over the uro helps to calm it down, but be careful not to restrict its breathing. Once it lets go, carefully place it in its enclosure and give it some time to relax.
Are Uromastyx Bites Venomous?
Uromastyx are not venomous, but, like all animals, they carry bacteria like salmonella. It is unlikely that a bite from an uromastyx causes any trouble, but if you were bitten, watch out for signs or infection.
How To Treat A Uromastyx Bite?
Most uro bites require minimal medical attention. If a uro bite does break the skin, wash the wound with antiseptic soap and lots of water.
You can dress the wound if necessary but a tip to the doctor is usually only necessary if the wound becomes infected.
How To Prevent Your Uromastyx From Biting You
Luckily, it’s fairly easy to prevent your uromastyx from biting you:
1. Know their warning signs
Many lizard bites are the result of mishandling and not paying attention to their warning signs. Uromastyx are extremely tolerant of handling.
So, if an uro is waving its tail, hissing, and opening its mouth, it’s trying to warn you! When this happens, it’s best to return the uro to its enclosure and allow it to settle.
Also, when uromastyx are unhappy, they start wiggling. We explain more about that here!
2. Don’t startle them
Uromastyx can be skittish and easily startled, which may make them bite out of fear. You can make sure this doesn’t happen by:
- giving new uros time to adjust to their environment before handling
- handling them correctly
- avoiding sudden or aggressive movements
- speaking calmly around them
- not reaching into its enclosure suddenly
3. Handle them with respect
Always handle your uromastyx gently and with respect. Be sure to support its body when handling it and allow it to explore its surroundings. Avoid handling them in loud, unfamiliar places because this can be stressful.
4. Ensure they’re content
Ensuring your uromastyx feels safe and comfortable helps to minimize the chance of being bitten. You can do this by:
- providing a regular diet of leafy greens, other veggies, and edible flowers
- creating or providing hideaways they can hide in
- keeping their enclosure at the correct temperature
- avoiding overhandling