|This article was written by "legend" a member of
sybils message board.
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.
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
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
But remember nothing beats them getting good natural
sunlight, so if you can expose them to this it is always a
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
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
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
You will see no shortage of Iguana's online in Reptile
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
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
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
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
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