From Tim Buk Tu To North Carolina
Ever since I first laid eyes on a Uromastyx in a Charlotte, NC pet shop, I’ve wanted one. From the tortoise-like head to the dinosaur-like, menacing, spiky tail that reminded me of a Stegosaurus’ defensive whip, I craved to have one and to create my own mini Jurassic Park at home.
Yes, I know that this feisty 6″ long desert reptile is not even remotely closely related to those 20′ long, 10 ton behemoths which lived 200 million years ago, but darn it, it’s almost certain it’ll be as close as I’ll ever get to one – and The Flintstones for that matter – and being the animal lover I am, I wanted one dammit!
Actually, the Uromastyx (Uros, as they are known) and Stegosaurus are really not all that different. Both are herbivores, meaning that they eat mainly plant matter (salads and the like), both live in semi-arid climates and both use their muscular, spiky tails as their primary defense against predators. Well, I suppose the similarities end right about there.
Nonetheless, boy do they look cool!
At the time, my reptile raising resume’ was rather limited with only a few anoles, a couple box turtles I unearthed as a kid in Ohio, and a handful of those silver-dollar sized dimestore turtles that are illegal now to own (since small children were known to have put them in their curious mouths and contracted diseases) to my credit. I went home and did some research on the care for a Uromastyx and soon realized with my experience, I’d be much better off right now to settle for a gecko. Which I did…thank you very much…and learned what a joy geckos are to own! (See my post of Leopard Gecko keeping HERE)
Well, after a couple years of healthy gecko rearing and continued Uro yearning, my loving wife urged me to go ahead and get one if I was ready. (Thanks, honey!) I am so glad I did.
While the gecko is nocturnal and lounges around all day – and most of the night, too, I might add – my 9 month old Uro (Tim Buk Tu, named after his native land in Mali, West Africa) is up at the break of dawn prowling and canvassing his territory, that is, when he hasn’t suddenly napped off as he is prone to do on occasion.
He’s unbelievably tame and loves to take a bath – which I had to give him after he devoured two blackberries and flung berry juice all over creation. He needs no water per se as he gets all the H2O he requires from the vegetation he eats. It’s a good thing, he’s not the cleanest eater – rather messy, actually – he scampers through his food trough and scatters veggies everywhere. He goes back and cleans up though, so at least he’s polite.
He absolutely loves flowers! No, I don’t decorate his enclosure with bouquets – He’d EAT them! Honeysuckle, dandelions, lilies, roses…just the sight of me bringing them to him from across the room makes him jump and try to climb the glass.
His species, Uromastyx maliensis, will grow to 12″-14″ and can live upwards of 35 years, maybe more, so I hope my son likes him as he’ll most likely inherit him.
Uros, for the most part, have not been kept in captivity for very long (since the early 90’s, I believe) so not a whole lot is known about them. I have read and researched all I can on these wonderful little beasts but would like to hear about what other keepers have experienced with their Uros. I know there’s much to learn and I’m sure it’s going to be an interesting journey.
One thing is for sure…they like it HOT!
Have questions or want to share your thoughts? Please send a comment.
As far as my experiences with Tim, I’ll keep you posted…