Rainbow Uromastyx (U. yemenensis )

Rainbow benti are one of our favorite but most frustrating Uromastyx species.  They originate from the higher elevations of Yemen, and thus sometimes go by the alternative common name of Mountain Benti.  All the Benti were originally listed as being only one species ( U. benti )with no subspecies.  However those of us working with them clearly discern two distinct subspecies. The taxonomists finally agreed with us and took it one step farther, granting them full species status as "U yemenesis".

Rainbow Uromastyx have been a rarely imported and even more rarely captively produced species. A few small groups were imported into North America in the late 1980's of which almost none made it into breeding programs. One clutch of hatchlings was produced by Randal Gray in the late 1980's but the availability of additional specimens dried up until the mid  90's. At that time, several large importations made it into North America. They initially commanded a price of several hundred dollars each, but as the market was quickly flooded by repeatedly large importations, the price quickly dropped to an average of $65 during the short period in which they were heavily imported.  Only one exporter was set up to send benti to the U.S. and by the summer of  2001, he decided to stop exportations of any of the benti to the U.S. until prices improved.  In the mean time  the political situation in Yemen has deteriorated to the point that further importations from the the U.S. are all but impossible.  Several breeders have attempted to breed Rainbows, with several of us having modest success. However as this is one of the more difficult species to work with, more and more breeders have given up on them, leaving extremely few Rainbows in breeding programs. To my knowledge, only one or two stray pairs are still set up for potential breeding in North America as of 2011.

Rainbows are a medium sized Uromastyx, most averaging 12", and 200+ grams, with males and females being very similar in size. The colors are reminiscent of their common name.  The ground color of mature males is silvery to medium gray on the upper half of the body blending into medium to bright orange on the lower half of the body, extending all the way down the tail. The back of the head and neck are usually a rich shade of orange overlaid with black to bluish black reticulations.  The upper sides, and sometimes extending onto the shoulders are various shades of blue to almost violet to occasionally blue green.  The back is spotted with sizable white, round to oblong spots, generally lying scattered over the back.  Individuals with brighter spots often have them at least partially outlined in black.  The females' pigmentation is a greatly reduced, more pastel version of the males and generally lack any trace of blue.  In lighter colored individuals, the orange pigments often take on a distinct pinkish hue.  In darker individuals, the orange can be reduced to only being noticeable in the hips and tails. 

Both sexes have personalities reminiscent of "semi-tame" State Park chipmunks. They are irrepressibly curious, readily  running up to you to see what you've brought them to eat.  However they'll quickly dash away if reach in to pick them up. They are probably the most active, antsy Uromastyx species, tending to be somewhat high strung. They are one of the least aggressive Uro's to people - essentially never offering to bite or even tail-slap.  While friendly and inquisitive, they generally do not like to be picked up and may hide from you for several days after you've "captured" them for handling.  Many do become quite trusting and readily jump into your hand when the cage door is first opened.  The key to earning this trust is to let them come to you!

While reasonable hardy as captive breds or acclimated wild-collected, they are not a good beginner species.  Both benti species are notoriously difficult to acclimate as freshly imported adults. It is therefore very important that you purchase acclimated specimens.  Unless purchased by someone experienced in acclimating fresh wild-collecteds,  the potential for disaster with these specimens is high. True acclimating entails more than just passing a set amount of "time in captivity".   It's adjusting the specimens to accept a diet  readily available to the average hobbyist.  For both benti and yemenesis species this MUST includes peas. Until they readily eat peas, these species can be problematic pets.  As captive born or acclimated WC, they still can be problematic after shipping or even when moved to a new cage.  Once you get them settled in and happy, try not to move them to different cages or rooms. They are very territorial and easily get depressed if the territory is lost. They are more "sensitive" than other Uromastyx species but well worth the effort. A tame Rainbow is an exceptional companion animal.

We no longer have any Rainbows in our breeding program but are looking to add them again if some exceptional individuals become available.  Still, we don't expect to have any available to the public anytime soon. We’ve posted photos of a few individuals we’ve worked with you can get an idea of what they look like. 

 

Lavender Phase Adult Male High Orange Adolescent Male

High Contrast Adult Female Male-Mimic Adult Female

Hatchling Ornate, Rainbow, and Sudanese (Lt. to Rt.) "Daizy" our favorite Rainbow, here for over 10 years

 


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