Black Spiny Tailed Geckos

Black spiny-tailed geckos are also called mastigures.  This species has the scientific name of Uromastyx.  Unlike other geckos, black spiny-tailed geckos are not ordinary pets.  They are a rare gecko species that are commonly found with reptile traders and reptile enthusiasts.

Black spiny-tailed geckos require very little maintenance, and they forgive mistakes on the part of their keepers.  These geckos are usually seen in the middle east, Asia, India, and wild parts of Africa.  They can live up to 15-30 years if properly maintained.

Do Black Spiny-tailed Geckos make good pets?

These geckos can be great pets for beginners as they require limited maintenance.  You need just 15 minutes a day to care for these geckos, but black spiny-tailed geckos are rare.  If you have one, you are very lucky.

Black spiny-tailed geckos are commonly called Uromastyx, mastigures, dab lizards, and uromastyces.  These geckos have broad heads and sturdy bodies.  Adults of this species can grow up to 10-12 inches or 25-30 cm.  They weigh about 250 grams.

Nature of Black spiny-tailed Geckos:

Unlike other geckos, the spiny-tailed gecko will not cut its tail as a defense mechanism, but as a small dinosaur, it uses its tail to frighten predators.  Black spiny-tailed geckos are good burrowers by nature.  They usually live in deep tunnels up to 10 feet long.

The majority of these geckos will hide when you try to hold them, but some are gentle and enjoy delicate handling.  Some of them will even eat out of their keeper’s hand.  Spiny-tailed geckos have powerful jaws.  Although they bite very rarely, their bites are very painful.

These geckos are aggressive to other males kept in the same enclosure.  To avoid your gecko hurting himself, keep him as a single male in a group or house the male alone.  This type of gecko is the lowest-maintenance gecko in the pet trade.

Features of Black Spiny-tailed Geckos

  • These geckos can survive for weeks or even months without food.  Babies should be fed every day and adult geckos 4-5 times per day.  Because they are not opportunistic feeders, feed them as much as they can eat.
  • Black spiny-tailed geckos are herbivores and get sufficient nutrients from their food.  Unlike other species of geckos, they do not require a calcium supplement to balance out their nutrition.
  • The cost of a spiny-tailed gecko ranges from $100-$300 in the pet market.
  • A healthy spiny-tailed gecko will have an evenly toned smooth body, clear and bright eyes, a smooth jawline, and no traces of mites, with a fat rounded tail.
  • To defend themselves from enemies, some types of spiny-tailed geckos hide partly in the burrows and flip their tails violently.
  • Black spiny-tailed geckos have powerful jaws for defense.  They bite hard when frightened, but the incidence of these geckos biting humans is extremely rare.

The Black spiny-tailed Gecko’s diet

Black spiny-tailed geckos are herbivorous by nature.  They occasionally eat insects, but too much animal protein distresses them and can lead to kidney problems, so this is best avoided.  You can add lentils, split peas, and grain-like millets to balance out your gecko’s protein intake.

Have a variety of foods that you offer to your gecko.  Some will strike for the same food every day, whereas others like variety.  A special water dish is not required, as geckos can get enough water through their food.  It is necessary to have a dish of water available for your gecko to dip themselves in.  Feed your geckos the following:

  • Escarole
  • Dandelion greens
  • Endive
  • Collard greens
  • Mustard greens
  • Spring mixes

Enclosures for Black spiny-tailed Geckos

Whatever type of enclosure you choose, a resting rock is required for your gecko to hide and climb.  This will be their favorite eating spot.  A spiny-tailed gecko needs a large terrarium or fish tank to live in (40-55 gallons).

You need to place rocks in a large concentrated area.  You will find your gecko hiding somewhere behind scattered wood and rocks in their enclosure.  Keep an eye out in spaces your gecko likes to burrow, as they like to hide and cool themselves.


Heat lamps are the preferred method to provide heat for your gecko.  Like all cold-blooded reptiles, these geckos move around in their environment to regulate their body temperature.  One end of the enclosure should be kept at 120 degrees Fahrenheit, while the other end is kept at 90 degrees Fahrenheit for your gecko to maintain a balanced temperature.

A gecko’s enclosure may decrease to the mid-70s overnight to mimic their natural desert environment.  You can set a ceramic light or blue or white heat lamp for lighting.


These geckos require a sufficient amount of UVB exposure from fluorescent or mercury vapor bulbs.  Set this light up with a 12-hour cycle to imitate the sunrise and sunset.  Replace the bulb once every six months.


Humidity levels that are too high can kill your gecko.  Perfect humidity is about 35%.  As burrowing is in its nature, provide a humid hiding space or a receptacle to simulate burrowing, but make sure to maintain a humidity level under 65%.  Use a hygrometer or humidity gauge to measure the moisture levels in the enclosure.

Common health problems for Black Spiny-tailed Geckos

  • Metabolic bone disease (MBD) is one of the most common illnesses found in pet reptiles.  It often results from calcium deficiency.  Swollen joints, a lax jaw, and trembling are the signs of MBD.  To prevent MBD, provide your gecko with a balanced diet, proper UVB lighting, and adequate supplementation.
  • Dehydration can also result from an inadequate diet.  Since spiny-tailed geckos rely on their food as a source of water, an abundance of leafy greens will prevent dehydration.  Also, make sure to provide ample substrate and space for burrowing.  These species dig in the ground to hide in order to regulate their body temperature and maintain their water levels.
  • On occasion, your spiny-tailed gecko may refuse food for up to a week.  These geckos may experience a loss of appetite when feeling stressed, sensing a change in seasons, living with temperatures that are too cool in the enclosure or falling ill.  Geckos get bored eating the same food all the time and may not eat if you don’t provide a variety of foods.

It is illegal to have a black spiny-tailed gecko as a pet in most countries.  A select few countries allow them as pets with an appropriate license.  Because spiny-tailed geckos are used to prepare certain types of medicines, many governments have banned pet trading of this species.