Uromastyx lizards are a popular choice for beginner reptile owners thanks to their stunning colors, expressive face, and docile behavior toward humans. If you own a Uromastyx, you may have noticed that sometimes they look like they’re dancing as they wiggle their body from side to side. Well, there is a very good reason for this.
Uromastyx lizards will move their belly and spiny tail from side to side as a warning that they are not comfortable or are feeling threatened. Social stresses like incorrect handling, being startled, or sharing an enclosure with another male uromastyx can cause wiggling.
In this article, we’ll explore why your uromastyx is wiggling and provide you with some tips on how to make your uromastyx feel safe and comfortable.
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Why Your Uromastyx is Wiggling
Upon first glance, when a uromastyx wiggles, it may look like they’re doing a little dance, but actually, that wiggle is a sign of aggressive behavior. They will wiggle their body as a warning before swinging and whipping their tail around.
If you ignore this behavior, you’re sure to be on the receiving end of their spiky tail, and believe us when we tell you that it is painful! The uromastyx tail is made up of scales that can be quite sore upon contact.
Here are three reasons why your uromastyx is wiggling and what you can do to prevent this.
1. Incorrect Handling
Lizards naturally are not used to handling, which is why you should start practicing good handling techniques from when they are a young age.
This will give them time to become used to your touch. It can take months before your uromastyx becomes used to handling.
Grabbing their tails or not holding them correctly can create great stress, and this is when they will start to wiggle. Avoid grabbing your uromastyx from above, as this can be seen as a predatory move.
This is because the uromastyx natural predators are shrikes and raptors, which attack from above. Your uromastyx will try to burrow or hide within a hide, and if there is no option to hide, they will wiggle their body as a warning to back off.
Avoid handling your uromastyx in loud and unfamiliar places. This can also stress them out.
When your uromastyx starts to wiggle its body, you should slowly remove your hand from the enclosure and wait until they are relaxed.
2. They Were Startled
To avoid startling your uromastyx, make sure that all your movements inside the enclosure are slow and that you don’t try to pick them up when they haven’t noticed you or your hand yet.
Also, make sure that other pets like cats, dogs or birds are not allowed to run around in front of the uromastyx tank. This can mean constant stress for your lizard.
Uromastyx lizards are docile and can be quite shy at times, so they like to rest in cozy spaces.
To prevent your uromastyx from being startled easily, get enough hides like this one so that your uro can get away from anything that is scary whenever it wants.
3. They Are Sharing An Enclosure With Other Reptiles
While uromastyx are generally friendly and docile towards humans, the same can’t be said for other lizards, especially males.
Male and female uromastyx can be housed together as long as you provide them with enough space in the enclosure.
You should be aware that your female uromastyx might end up pregnant as the male will constantly try to mate with her.
Sometimes female uromastyx can become tired and fed up with the males’ constant badgering for mating, and she can become aggressive. As soon as you notice that she wiggles her body at the male, separating them is recommended.
However, male uromastyx should not be housed together as they can be aggressive towards each other, and many times they will fight and try bite each other.
You can house one male with multiple females, just make sure that your enclosure is big enough and note that this will not guarantee that they will all get along with each other.
Tip: It is not recommended to house uromastyx with other reptiles. We have an article on bearded dragons housed with uromastyx here.
How To Handle Your Uromastyx Correctly To Prevent Wiggling
Handling your uromastyx correctly will help build trust and make them feel more comfortable. Here’s how.
- Approach the uromastyx from the side if possible, and avoid bringing your hand down from directly above them.
- Gentle slide your fingers under the uromastyx body. Remember to keep your hand movements slow.
- Gently lift the uromastyx, and avoid wrapping your hand around its midbody. Instead, you should let it move freely in the palm of your hand.
If your uromastyx wiggles its body while you’re doing this, stop, especially if you’re handling a young or wild-caught uromastyx. If feeling threatened enough, a uromastyx will lash out and bite.
Build up trust and let them get used to you before trying to force them to be handled. You can do this by:
- Leaving your hand in the enclosure without touching them for about a week until they’re used to your smell.
- Feed them by hand
- Handle them for 10 minutes at a time, no more than twice a week.
By doing this consistently, your uromastyx will become used to you, and you’ll find that the wiggling will stop or lessen.
Tip: Read our Uromastyx Care Guide to learn more about these awesome lizards!
A wiggling uromastyx is warning you that they feel uncomfortable and agitated. You can help your uromastyx feel safer and relaxed by handling them correctly, not startling them, and separating them from other lizards.
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