Could a uromastyx be kept in an outdoor enclosure in Arizona?

I’ve been doing a bit of research on uros lately and they seem really appealing to me for a variety of reasons. The only draw back for me is that they need both high heat and uvb lights. But I live in the desert in Arizona, so I was wondering if keeping one outside would be feasible? I was thinking that the enclosure would be homemade and could have partial cover so there was always a shady spot and it could also have an underground burrow. For many months of the year, the temperatures are well above 100. And would a uromastyx need a heat lamp turned on during the cooler months? I don’t know much about the deserts that they come from, but I assume they have slightly cooler temps in the winter and at night too?


my only worry would be bugs/parasites, but I really don’t know much about that or uro’s

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Ive done quite a bit of research since Uros are gonna be my 1st reptile. (U geyri or ornata but most likely geyri). I also kinda eventaully wanna try my hand yrs down the road breeding them.

Uromastyx are an agamid (same lizard fam as beardies) genus whose range covers most of N Africa’s deserty zones and into the middle east (including that area around Israel Palestine area and the Saudi Arabia/Oman/Yemen peninsula) The former Iraqi, Iran and India species were moved to the genus Saara although Idk why yet.

The species I looked at the most is U geyri better known as the Saharan Uro. They live in rocks in the desert where they like to squeeze themselves into cozy crevices to get away from preds and such. They are diurnal and if I remember right they can have a drop in temps at night. In the cooler months you may still need a heat bulb though. It never really cools down much in one of the hottest deserts on Earth. Be advised that a huge chunk are still wild caught and Uros arent really CB much yet. (Thats 1 reason why I wanna breed them one day).

What Uro species are you considering? Honestly they just might be among my fav reptiles of all time and I cant wait to be in a position to get them myself (even though I find temps above 86F unpleasant unfortunately (I know I just HATE heat and am a winter lover). I even have names in mind for a bright red and/or bright yellow specimen. I want one or a pair so bad so I can finally have a herp and truly join this community. Uros very narrowly beat out Corn snakes for the honor of my 1st ever reptile. I still really want a corn snake though…they will be my 2nd most wanted reptile to start with.

Look up Arids Only (I think thats the channel name) on youtube. Also Dav kaufman has a few detailed vids on Uros (check out his Uros are we keeping them correctly vid).


I’ve had quite a few Uros and currently have an Ornate…Honestly I have not seen many people keeping them outside (not saying it can’t be done). I keep a very toasty hot spot between 120-130F. The only issue I would have keeping them outside is humidity. They’re not high humidity lovers and I’d worry it would affect their health. I would just keep him indoors if I were you just to be on the safe side. They make INCREDIBLE display animals …I’ve had 5-6 of them (can’t recall exact number) over the years and I love them. The basking spot temps won’t be exactly the same for all Uros so just ensure you do some good research on the type of Uro you want. They poop alot but its mostly small dry poop (since they’re vegetarian) easy to clean up. They can take quite a while to get used to you (flighty) and trust you but gaining their love is part of the fun.


Thanks for the info! I’m thinking I’d either like an ornate or a banded. And yeah, if I could get a captive bred one, that’s what I would prefer. I have watched Dav’s videos on them, but I’ll check out that other channel too.


So humidity in Arizona (at least in the valley) is very low most of the year, which is partly why I was thinking they might do well outdoors here. How do they handle rain in the wild? Maybe I would need a temporary indoor enclosure that they could live in when we have our rare rainy or humid days. Anyway, thank you for your input!


When it comes to rain in the wild I’m not sure…I assume they crawl down into their borrows. I do know water is a big no no…No soaking or putting water bowls in their enclosures.

I used to keep and breed mali uromastyx outdoors during the summers here in Virginia. I currently keep and have kept a number of desert species outdoors here in Virginia (currently year round painted agamas, collared lizards, and summers bearded dragons and granite spiney lizards also). Ambient humidity has never been a problem for my lizards and it can be very humid here at times (we have much higher humidity and much more rain than Arizona). Constant damp conditions on the other hand are a big problem and this should be accounted for in the design of the outdoor enclosure. As far as heat- Lizards are like bricks- they will build heat from solar radiation. They don’t work the same way under artificial lighting indoors as they do under solar radiation. I have a video I put up on my youtube channel last year showing my collared lizards’ body temperatures on a day in the 50s as up over 100. They were warmer than the rocks they were sitting on by a few degrees I think because they had less mass so they required less time to heat up in the sunshine than the rocks they were sitting on. When I bred the Malis, they were able to get their body temperatures up and required shade even though our average day temperatures here during the summer are in the upper 80s, low 90s with some days in the mid-upper 90s and some days in the upper 70s, low 80s. The lower end wouldn’t work for all summer, but the lizards will brumate if there is no sun (rainy or cloudy days). If there is sunshine they do fine and you have that aplenty in AZ. On the other hand, I don’t think it is a great idea to go full time outdoors with them if you have never kept a lizard before. You need to understand how the lizard uses its environment- especially for thermoregulation so you don’t cook the lizard. Shade and cool are important, not only heat and sun. I use 2 kinds of enclosures for breeding lizards- table top screen cages which are not naturalistic (I use short chopped hay mix from TSC for substrate for desert lizards- the lizards can burrow in to escape heat if the substrate is deep enough and the hay acts as an insulator. It is also edible for the lizards and makes cleanup of poop really easy because it clumps up and dries poo pretty fast. These cages I cover with tarps during the rain. I also use enclosures with walls set into the ground . These enclosures have a roof over 2/3 and sun and rain can enter 1/3, so the lizards can always remain dry even when it rains.


Thank you for the very detailed response! The only lizard I’ve kept so far is a crested gecko, but I barely even count that as lizard experience since they’re extremely easy to keep and have much different care requirements than a uro!