|Egyptian spiny-tailed lizard (Uromastyx aegyptia)|
Uromastyx is a genus of African and Asian agamid lizards, the member species of which are commonly called spiny-tailed lizards, uromastyces, mastigures, or dabb lizards. Lizards in the genus Uromastyx are primarily herbivorous, but occasionally eat insects and other small animals, especially young lizards. They spend most of their waking hours basking in the sun, hiding in underground chambers at daytime or when danger appears. They tend to establish themselves in hilly, rocky areas with good shelter and accessible vegetation.
The generic name (Uromastyx) is derived from the Ancient Greek words ourá (οὐρά) meaning "tail" and -mastix (μαστιξ) meaning "whip" or "scourge", after the thick-spiked tail characteristic of all Uromastyx species.
- Uromastyx acanthinura Bell, 1825 – Bell's dabb lizard
- Uromastyx aegyptia (Forskål, 1775) – Egyptian mastigure, Leptien's mastigure
- Uromastyx alfredschmidti Wilms & Böhme, 2001 – Schmidt's mastigure
- Uromastyx benti (Anderson, 1894) – Bent's mastigure
- Uromastyx dispar Heyden, 1827 – Sudan mastigure
- Uromastyx geyri (L. Müller, 1922) – Saharan spiny-tailed lizard
- Uromastyx macfadyeni Parker, 1932 – Macfadyen's mastigure
- Uromastyx occidentalis Mateo, Geniez, Lopez-Jurado & Bons, 1999 – giant spiny-tailed lizard
- Uromastyx ocellata Lichtenstein, 1823 – eyed dabb lizard
- Uromastyx ornata Heyden, 1827 – ornate mastigure
- Uromastyx princeps O’Shaughnessy, 1880 – princely mastigure
- Uromastyx thomasi Parker, 1930 – Oman spiny-tailed lizard
- Uromastyx yemenensis Wilms & Schmitz, 2007 – Yemen spiny-tailed lizard
Their size ranges from 25 cm (10 in) (U. macfadyeni) to 91 cm (36 in) or more (U. aegyptia). Hatchlings or neonates are usually no more than 7–10 cm (3–4 in) in length. Like many reptiles, these lizards' colors change according to the temperature; during cool weather they appear dull and dark but the colors become lighter in warm weather, especially when basking; the darker pigmentation allows their skin to absorb sunlight more effectively.
Their spiked tail is muscular and heavy, and can be swung at an attacker with great velocity, usually accompanied by hissing and an open-mouthed display of (small) teeth. Uromastyxs generally sleep in their burrows with their tails closest to the opening, in order to thwart intruders.
Uromastyx inhabit a range stretching through most of North and Northeast Africa, the Middle East, ranging as far east as Iran. Species found further east are now placed in the genus Saara. Uromastyx occur at elevations from sea level to well over 900 m (3,000 ft). They are regularly eaten, and sold in produce markets, by local peoples. Uromastyx tend to bask in areas with surface temperatures of over 50 °C (120 °F).
A female Uromastyx can lay anywhere from 5 to 40 eggs, depending on age and species. Eggs are laid approximately 30 days following copulation with an incubation time of 70–80 days. The neonates weigh 4–6 g (0.14–0.21 oz) and are about 5 cm (2 in) snout to vent length. They rapidly gain weight during the first few weeks following hatching.
A field study in Algeria concluded that Moroccan spiny-tailed lizards add approximately 5 cm (2 in) of total growth each year until around the age of 8–9 years.
Wild female uromastyx are smaller and less colorful than males. For example, U. (dispar) maliensis females are often light tan with black dorsal spots, while males are mostly bright yellow with mottled black markings. Females also tend to have shorter claws. In captivity female U. (dispar) maliensis tend to mimic males in color. Maliensis are, therefore, reputably difficult to breed in captivity.
These lizards acquire most of the water they need from the vegetation they ingest. Giving a Uromastyx a water bowl can lead to higher humidity in the cage and can cause problems for the animal.
Consumption by humans
The Uromastyx maliensis lizard, known as "dabb" (ضَبّ) by peninsular Arabs, is consumed as food by the Bedouin populations of the Arabian peninsula, mainly those residing in the interior regions of Saudi Arabia. This monitor lizard is considered a "bedouin delicacy". An example of this is attributed to a hadith by the prophet Muhammad, who belonged to a sedentary family in the Hejaz. A Sahih Hadith recorded that when an uromastyx lizard was brought to the prophet Muhammad by Bedouins from the Najd, namely Hufaida bint al-Harith, Muhammad did not eat the lizard but other Muslims were not prohibited by him from consuming it so Muhammad's companion Khalid bin Walid consumed the lizard. Dried lizard tonic was monopolized by the Hashemites before the Saudi family seized Medina and Mecca from them.
The Sahih Muslim Hadith on lizard says - 'Abdullah b. 'Abbas reported that Khalid b. Walid who is called the Sword of Allah had informed him that he visited Maimuna, the wife of Allah's Apostle (ﷺ), in the company of Allah's Messenger (ﷺ), and she was the sister of his mother (that of Khalid) and that of 'Ibn Abbas, and he found with her a roasted lizard which her sister Hufaida the daughter of al-Harith had brought from Najd, and she presented that lizard to Allah's Messenger (ﷺ). It was rare that some food was presented to the Prophet (ﷺ) and it was not mentioned or named. While Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) was about to stretch forth his hand towards the lizard, a woman from amongst the women present there informed the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) what they had presented to him. They said: Messenger of Allah, it is a lizard. Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) withdrew his hand, whereupon Khalid b. Walid said: Messenger of Allah, is a lizard forbidden? Thereupon he said: No, but it is not found in the land of my people, and I feel that I have no liking for it. Khalid said: I then chewed and ate it, and Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) was looking at me and he did not forbid (me to eat it). (وَحَدَّثَنِي أَبُو الطَّاهِرِ، وَحَرْمَلَةُ، جَمِيعًا عَنِ ابْنِ وَهْبٍ، قَالَ حَرْمَلَةُ أَخْبَرَنَا ابْنُ وَهْبٍ، أَخْبَرَنِي يُونُسُ، عَنِ ابْنِ شِهَابٍ، عَنْ أَبِي أُمَامَةَ بْنِ سَهْلِ بْنِ حُنَيْفٍ الأَنْصَارِيِّ، أَنَّ عَبْدَ اللَّهِ، بْنَ عَبَّاسٍ أَخْبَرَهُ أَنَّ خَالِدَ بْنَ الْوَلِيدِ الَّذِي يُقَالُ لَهُ سَيْفُ اللَّهِ أَخْبَرَهُ أَنَّهُ، دَخَلَ مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَلَى مَيْمُونَةَ زَوْجِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَهِيَ خَالَتُهُ وَخَالَةُ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ فَوَجَدَ عِنْدَهَا ضَبًّا مَحْنُوذًا قَدِمَتْ بِهِ أُخْتُهَا حُفَيْدَةُ بِنْتُ الْحَارِثِ مِنْ نَجْدٍ فَقَدَّمَتِ الضَّبَّ لِرَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَكَانَ قَلَّمَا يُقَدَّمُ إِلَيْهِ طَعَامٌ حَتَّى يُحَدَّثَ بِهِ وَيُسَمَّى لَهُ فَأَهْوَى رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَدَهُ إِلَى الضَّبِّ فَقَالَتِ امْرَأَةٌ مِنَ النِّسْوَةِ الْحُضُورِ أَخْبِرْنَ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم بِمَا قَدَّمْتُنَّ لَهُ . قُلْنَ هُوَ الضَّبُّ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ . فَرَفَعَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَدَهُ فَقَالَ خَالِدُ بْنُ الْوَلِيدِ أَحَرَامٌ الضَّبُّ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَالَ " لاَ وَلَكِنَّهُ لَمْ يَكُنْ بِأَرْضِ قَوْمِي فَأَجِدُنِي أَعَافُهُ " . قَالَ خَالِدٌ فَاجْتَرَرْتُهُ فَأَكَلْتُهُ وَرَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَنْظُرُ فَلَمْ يَنْهَنِي .)
One stereotype Persians have of Arabs is that they eat lizards. Persians use the slur "soosmar-khor" (سوسمار خور) ("lizard eater") against Arabs and the Sunni Muslim Persian poet Ferdowsi included a derogatory insulting verse against Arabs in his Shahnameh poem (زشیر شتر خوردن و سوسمار عرب را به جایی رسیده ست کار که فر کیانی کند آرزو تفو بر تو ای چرخ گردون تفو) (zasheer shatar khordan va soosmar) which is translated into Arabic as (مِن شُرب لبن الابل وأكل الضب بلغ العرب مبلغاً أن يطمحوا في تاج الملك؟ فتباً لك أيها الزمان وسحقا) or (ثم قال: أعلمنى بما أنت عليه من دينك، و رسمك و آيينك. و أخبرنى مَن سلطانك و بمن اعتضادك و اعتصامك. فقد جئت فى عساكر حفاة عراة بلا ثقل و لا رحل و لا فيل و لا تخت. ثم بلغ بكم الأمر من شربكم ألبان الإبل و أكلكم أضباب القيعان إلى تمنى أسرّة الملوك العجم أرباب التخوت و التيجان.), with the verse attributed to the Persian commander Rostam Farrokhzād as insulting the Arabs as camel milk drinkers and lizard eaters during the Muslim conquest of Persia. Some historians believed another Persian in the Medieval ages inserted the line about lizards and camels milk and that Ferdowsi did not write it. Richard F. Burton translated the line as "Hath the Arabs daring performed such feat, Fed on camels milk and the lizard's meat, That he cast on Kayánian crown his eye? Fie, O whirling world! on thy faith and fie!"
Historically, captive Uromastyx had a poor survival rate, due to a lack of understanding of their dietary and environmental needs. In recent years, knowledge has significantly increased, and appropriate diet and care has led to survival rates and longevity approaching and perhaps surpassing those in the wild.
The Mali Uromastyx (Uromastyx (dispar) maliensis) is considered an ideal species to choose as a pet because they readily adapt to a captive environment. Another species of Uromastyx that adapts to captivity well, and comes in "red" and "yellow", is Uromastyx geyri, commonly called the Saharan Uromastyx. The red version is marketed as a red Niger Uromastyx but the yellow version is marketed as a yellow Niger Uromastyx. Artificial UVB/UVA light and vitamin supplements must be balanced with proper food and nutrition, UVB light is required for calcium absorption from the gut. Most commercially available UVB lights lose efficiency after 6 months and need to be replaced. Proper enclosures can be costly, as these are roaming animals with large space needs for their size, combined with the need to provide heat and ultraviolet light. Though the lizards bask at very high temperatures, there must be a temperature gradient within the enclosure allowing them to cool off away from the heat lamps. A cooling-down period over winter months can trigger the breeding response when temperatures rise in the spring. The temporary slowing-down of their metabolisms also lengthens the animals' lifespans.
Uromastyx are removed from the wild in an unregulated manner for the pet and medicinal trade in Morocco, despite their protected status in the country. Conditions of the animals while being sold is often extremely poor and overcrowding is common.
Uromastyx are burrowing lizards, and need substrate deep enough to burrow in, or a low structure under which to hide. In the wild, these lizards' burrows can reach 3 m (10 ft) in length.
Captive uromastyxs’ diets should be largely herbivorous, consisting primarily of endive, dandelion greens, bok choy, escarole, and most ground growing vegetables with little to no sugar, or of course an appropriate type of store-bought vegetarian lizard food. Some lettuces have almost no nutritive value. The lighter, whiter lettuce is not as nutritionally effective as the darker green lettuce. It is very important to avoid spinach, chard and flowering kale in the diets of all reptiles, since the oxalates in spinach prevent the uptake of calcium into the bloodstream. However, a special UVB bulb must be used in order for them to absorb the calcium from the gut. They can consume de-thorned cacti with their powerful jaws, especially if they need water. The lizards' food can be dusted with a calcium and a uromastyx designed supplement to help prevent health problems. While young uromastix, like young iguanas, do eat some insects in order to gain access to the added nutrients while they are rapidly growing, the high levels of protein may cause liver damage in adults. These animals are primarily herbivores, as stated above, and so it's generally felt that they should only be fed plant matter. In the wild, adult Malis have been reported to eat insects at certain times of the year, when it is hot and their only food source available would be insects.
- "Uromastyx". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 16 September 2008.
- "Oxford English Dictionary, uroˈmastix, n.". Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
- Uromastyx, The Reptile Database
- Wilms; Böhme; Wagner; Lutzmann; and Schmitz (2009). On the Phylogeny and Taxonomy of the Genus Uromastyx Merrem, 1820 (Reptilia: Squamata: Agamidae: Uromastycinae) – Resurrection of the Genus Saara Gray, 1845. Bonner zoologische Beiträge 56(1/2): 55–99.
- Capula, Massimo; Behler (1989). Simon & Schuster's Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of the World. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 259. ISBN 0-671-69098-1.
- Vernet, Roland, Michel Lemire, Claude J. Grenot, and Jean-Marc Francaz. (1988). Ecophysiological comparisons between two large Saharan Lizards, Uromastyx acanthinurus (Agamidae) and Varanus griseus (Varanidae). Journal of Arid Environments 14:187–200.
- "Deer Fern Farms Mali Uromastyx Page". Deerfernfarms.com. 2009-01-13. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
- "Hunting ‘dabb’ in Al-Asyah". Arab News. 2001-04-27. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
- "All comments on ضبان ضبان lizard in Saudi Arabia". YouTube. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
- "Saudi Aramco World : The Toad-Head From Najd And Other Reptiles". Archive.aramcoworld.com. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
- "Don’t Know What to Cook? How About Dhub – Traditional Saudi Beudion Dish". American Bedu.
- John P. Rafferty (January 2011). Deserts and Steppes. The Rosen Publishing Group. pp. 55–. ISBN 978-1-61530-317-5.
- "SahihMuslim.Com". SahihMuslim.Com. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
- IslamKotob. muslim. IslamKotob. pp. 1242–. GGKEY:SAAQR2RYZ87.
- IslamKotob (1978). Sahih Muslim: Being Traditions of the Sayings and Doings of the Prophet Muhammad as Narrated by His Companions and Compiled Under the Title Al-Jami'-us-sahih : with Explanatory Notes and Brief Biographical Sketches of Major Narrators. Islamic Books. pp. 1242–. GGKEY:A3373925T9E.
- "Quran / Hadith English Translation - Search Engine". Religeo.com. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
- "Ruling on Different Types of Lizards". ImamFaisal.com. 2011-10-27. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
- Kifner, John (1996-06-30). "Desert Storms - For Danger In the Mideast, Just Look Around". NYTimes.com (Iraq; Middle East; Israel; Saudi Arabia). Retrieved 2016-01-07.
- "Hadith - The Book of Hunting, Slaughter, and what may be Eaten - Sahih Muslim - Sayings and Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم)". sunnah.com.
- Terence O'Donnell (1980). Garden of the brave in war. Ticknor & Fields. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-89919-016-7.
-  Archived April 21, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
- Elaine Sciolino (25 September 2001). Persian Mirrors: The Elusive Face of Iran. Simon and Schuster. pp. 170–. ISBN 978-0-7432-1779-8.
- Farhang Rajaee (1997). Iranian Perspectives on the Iran-Iraq War. University Press of Florida. pp. 75–. ISBN 978-0-8130-1476-0.
- Shirin Tahir-Kheli; Shaheen Ayubi (1983). The Iran-Iraq War: New Weapons, Old Conflicts. Praeger. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-03-062906-8.
- "Arabs rise, Tehran trembles". Now.mmedia.me. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
- "Islamic Revival and Middle East Social Revolution | AL-ALAM AL-ISLAMI". En.alalamalislami.com. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
- "گنجور » فردوسی » شاهنامه » پادشاهی یزدگرد » بخش ۳". Ganjoor.net. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
-  Archived August 25, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
- [dead link]
- "من طعنة الخنجر إلى الدمار الشامل بقلم: إبراهيم بوهندي". Adpf.org. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
- "يزدجرد الثالث - ويكي مصدر". Ar.wikisource.org (in Arabic). Retrieved 2016-01-07.
- Touraj Daryaee. "Food, Purity and Pollution: Medieval Zoroastrian Views on the Eating Habits of the Arabs and Indians" (DOC). Mesa.ucdavis.edu. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
- Franklin Lewis (1999). "Reviewed Work: The Image of Arabs in Modern Persian Literature by Joya Blondel Saad". Iranian Studies 32: 163–167.
- "Food, Purity and Pollution: Zoroastrian Views on the Eating Habits of Others | Touraj Daryaee". Academia.edu. 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
- Ferdowsi, (27 April 2012). The Epic of the Kings (RLE Iran B): Shah-Nama the national epic of Persia. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-136-84077-7.
- David Menashri (6 December 2012). Post-Revolutionary Politics in Iran: Religion, Society and Power. Routledge. pp. 1999–. ISBN 978-1-136-33371-2.
- "The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night/Volume 7". En.wikisource.org. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
- Daniel Bergin (2014-11-04). "Open, Unregulated Trade in Wildlife in Morocco’s Markets (PDF Download Available)". Researchgate.net. Retrieved 2016-01-07.