Hide, run, dig. But the little uromastyx in the scrub brush, rocky deserts in Northern Africa probably can’t out run birds or larger lizards who want to eat them. So digging, hoping to dig down quick enough or get under something, is their best option to get away and be safe. They sometimes leave their spiny tails stick out of their hiding places, cos that sharp spiked tail is their only other means of defense. The biggest species, Egyptian uromastyx, which get 3′ long, can actually mess up your shin bones with their long, strong tails. Geyri will only get to be about a foot long when full grown.
In captivity we give them multiple places to hide in their enclosures, cos they always remain nervous little creatures. They never lose their instincts, even ones who were bred in this country and have never seen a bird. So we don’t approach them from above, since that’s an automatic panic time.
Little Geyri is now shedding. As they’re growing, they shed multiple times a year, then slow down once they’re full grown, which is not till they’re about 2 years old. Pictured below he has a whole sleeve of skin coming off of one front leg. His head has also started to shed, and they rub their faces and heads on things trying to rub the loose skin off. Long term Uro keepers explain that shedding must feel like wearing a too-tight itchy sweater for several weeks, cos lizards shed in patches. This sleeve of skin came off later the day I took the picture in one big piece. I never found that, and there’s an instinct about self protection involved in that. They normally eat the shed skin, leaving no trace of themselves behind.
Also, cover up where you went to hide! This tube hiding place is one of his favorite places to sleep at night. Last night he went in there to settle down for the night, and he knows that I sometimes peep into the end of the tube to see if he’s in there. So he dug and piled dirt up to cover the end that I could look into.
Below is another place he likes to sleep. This has several openings but he always goes in one side. When he’s out of there, I push dirt back into the inside so he has to dig a new hiding place. (They are diggers, and have good strong legs and sharp toenails to help them get down thru the dirt.) Then he goes to digging, to dig down as far as he can go, to be hidden, and safe for the night. I love to watch him dig, and it’s so fun when dirt flies out of the hole.
Amazing little animals, with real personalities that we come to understand as we have them a while. And the instincts…….more of the magic of nature.