BLACK BEARS sybils den
Welcome to Sybil's Den.  This site is meant for information purposes  on raising  pet exotics animals based on my experience.  There are care sheets for black bears, foxes, raccoons, emus, farm animals and domestic animals.   Also please find a very informative message board with a lot of great members.

For some of the species of animals I have or had information on, You will find their photo gallery.

Home Page
Care Sheets
Fox Breeders
Fox Q&A
Message Board
Pet Poems
Pet Steer
State Regulations
Lite A Candle
Vet Listings


This article was written by "legend" a member of sybils message board.

Iguana iguana

Lifespan: 15-20+yrs
Size: 5-6ft+
Diet: Herbivore

Sometimes known as the "King" of the reptile trade, the Green Iguana is quite possibly the persisting hallmark of herpetoculture. They are widely available and usually sell for very inexpensive prices out of pet shops. Unfortunately, this subjects them to impulse buys by many individuals who are completely unprepared for the challenges one must face in the keeping of a fairly high maintenance reptile.

Iguana babies are cute, and a lot of times that is a very difficult trait to over look. But what one must realize is that that little appealing baby in the pet store aquarium will grow to up to 6 feet in length, and weigh up to (and over)20 lbs, and has the potential for a very bad temper. The goal of this care sheet is to provide any prospective buyers or researcher with a good starting point in their research into this fascinating species.

Remember a care sheet/article should just be the starting point to more dedicated research.

Housing Requirements
As stated in the above paragraphs, Iguana's ultimately will get quite large, so keeping an adult in a aquarium of any size in unrealistic. So keep this in mind before you buy your Iguana, it will save you a lot of headaches to have a plan for a sizable enclosure on hand, or if circumstances allow, have the enclosure already built.

That being said, babies can be started in a 20-30 gallon aquarium depending on the individuals size. As they grow, they should be cycled into larger enclosures. Placing a baby in too large of an enclosure will cause them unnecessary stress.

Another option for adults is allowing them to 'free roam' your home. This will require you to take temperature measurements around your home so that you will be able to set up multiple basking areas for your pet. It will also be important to 'Ig proof' your home, as Iguana's are very curious(and strong) animals that may find certain electrical wires appealing. And they could very easily knock over some expensive items, so make sure that anything breakable is kept out of their access.

Lighting and Heating
This is one of the more difficult aspects of keeping an Iguana. iguana's are tropical animals, and require quite warm temperatures. The ambient air temps in your iguana's cage should not decline below 80 degrees, their basking area should in the low-middle 90's.

At night time, the temperatures should not be allowed to drop below the mid 70's. There are certain heat devices (Ceramic Heat Emitters) which will help you to accomplish this. But it is important to remember that such devices can get very hot. So be cautioned in what kind of enclosure this are being placed in. They have the potential to start fires.

As for lighting. Iguana's require UV light, this can be accomplished with various florescent lights bulbs(Reptisun) that can be found at pet stores, and usually on reptile specialty websites(albeit at a cheaper price). Mercury vapor bulbs are another option, but they give off tremendous heat, so caution should be taken with them as was mentioned about CHE's.

But remember nothing beats them getting good natural sunlight, so if you can expose them to this it is always a plus.

iguana's also require a good amount of humidity. This can be accomplishing by misting the Iguana several times a day, or even giving them a bath when you are able. A misting system would also be very helpful.

iguana's are herbivores. They are strictly herbivores (no crickets), do not provide them with animal protein for it can lead to serious health problems.

That being said, Iguana's do have a prey drive. And they may consume animal protein if giving the chance. But since they are being kept as a pet, they should be provided with the best diet possible. A healthy leafy fresh salad should always be provided to your Iguana.

Lettuce should be avoided. It does not provide the animals with any sort of nutrients. Romaine lettuce is more nutritious and can be fed on occasion however, but should never make up a large part of their diet.

Stick to supplying your Ig with dark green veggies. Collard, mustard, turnip, etc. You should also mix in some other veggies with these greens. Squash, green beans, etc.

Taming and Handling
Baby Iguana's are very often prey for a variety of animals in their natural habitat. As such they are very skittish by nature, so it is important to keep this in mind when raising your baby.

Tips for handling/taming:
When you hold your Iguana make sure to support their full body, as this will make them feel more secure.  Hold them firmly, but do not squeeze them.

When picking your Ig up, try to avoid looking at them directly, as they will perceive this as predatory behavior.

Scoop your Ig up rather then grabbing them from above. They are often the prey of flying predators, so they have a natural instinct to fear things that come 'from up above'

Be gentle, be patient, have a big puppy of an Iguana is not something that happens overnight. It takes hard work and dedication.

Handle your baby for 10-15 minutes everyday.

Be mindful of the room temperature around you during handling session, make sure they do not get cold.

Don't give up.
During breeding season, adult male Iguana's can become quite aggressive, and females will lay eggs regardless if they have had contact with a male or nor. These are some serious issues to keep in mind before purchasing your Iguana. These problems can be overcome, but they too require dedication.

Where do I get an Iguana?
This should be the last question you ask, after all the aforementioned topics have been met.

Pet stores more often then not will have plenty of baby Iguana's

You will see no shortage of Iguana's online in Reptile classifieds.

Rescue's are often overrun with Iguana's. Have you thought about adopting? There are many (usually large) Iguana's that are very much in need of a loving home. And while it is true that some of these were dumped because of the issues that their inexperienced owner encountered with them, there are other individuals who simply found themselves in a difficult place in life and could not accommodate their beloved pet any longer. You may be able to find an already well adjusted Iguana.

The appeal of raising your own baby is a powerful one though. So ultimately this choice is entirely up to you. Just make sure to keep the idea of adoption in the back of your mind.

Common Myths

Iguana's only grow to the size of their tank

Iguana's should be fed animal protein when young

Iguana's are very easy to tame

Hot rocks are an easy way to provide heat (NEVER provide any reptiles with hot rocks they will burn them!)

Many pet stores are a fountain of faulty information. Remember, often times they are just trying to make a sale, and many will feed you any amount of incorrect information they can to get you to give them your money.

After you've done some research, try asking some questions, if their answers are inconsistent with what you have researched, it might be a good idea to take your business elsewhere.

In conclusion
As you can see, Iguana's are not easy care pets. They require a lot of time, money, and energy. This care article does not seek to discourage you, but to provide you with the facts. If you are intrigued and want to learn more, these websites will provide you with much more information then the care article could ever provide.

You will notice that these sites may have differing opinions on certain topics. So you may want to apply techniques depending on your own individual animals, remember all Iguana's have their own personalities, just like people.

Have you decided an Iguana is just not for you? That is a very unselfish decision, but it can also be a bit disappointing as well. However there are many more reptile pets that are much more suitable for the larger majority.

Please know that the below mentioned species require their own brand of care, so please be sure to research their requirements as thoroughly as you would a Green Iguana.

Bearded Dragons- This guys make superb pets in general. They are very friendly and have a very gentle demeanor. They are wonderful animals.

Snakes- Their are various kinds of snakes to choose from, but as a general rule snakes are far easier to keep then lizards, so you may want to look into these guys if you are looking for a lower maintenance reptile pet.

Cyclura Iguanas- Cyclura are very stunning and beautiful animals. They do not get as long as Green Iguana's, but can weigh much more. They are also quite skittish as babies, but in general they tame much faster and lack the breeding aggression that Green's are known for. They are wonderful animals, and if you are still looking for a larger lizard, they are definitely worth looking into.
A big thank you to "legend" (member of sybils message board) for this article