That little lizard in the pet shop may look cute in its small tank – think again. An iguana can grow up to 6 feet. It has complex dietary needs. An iguana needs time with its owner – supervised for exercise. It needs the care and habitat that a six foot reptile demands.
Average Size - 4 to 6 feet long
Life Span - Up to 25 years with proper care – yes 25 years
Diet - Feed the following mix: 30% to 40% Greens -Dark, leafy greens, collard greens, and mustard greens; avoid feeding iceberg lettuce because it offers no nutritional value; 30% to 40% Bulk Vegetables -Carrots, green beans, peas, broccoli, and zucchini; 20% to 30% Fruit -Mango, papaya, banana, strawberries, and melon
DO NOT FEED WILD PLANTS OR HOUSE PLANTS – THEY MAY CARRY DISEASES OR CONTAIN TOXINS THAT COULD BE DEADLY TO YOUR PET
Feeding frequency - Feed once a day; food should be chopped, shredded, or cut into small chunks. Provide a multiple vitamin/mineral supplement once or twice a week and calcium daily
Housing - Due to the varied sizes and growth rates of reptiles, and their individualized needs, it is recommend you consult your qualified reptile veterinarian and a book on this species to determine it's specific housing requirements.
Cage Size - Appropriate sized starter tank with a secure cover; as the iguana grows, a larger habitat will be needed; the iguana should be able to freely turn and move around. Most iguana keepers find that custom enclosures are the only way to go with a full grown adult.
Habitat - Provide a hiding area - yes you can use silk/plastic plants (I actually found that to be best because you can take them out clean them and then replace them); branches for basking; an incandescent light with access to a cooler area; maintain humidity of 70 to 90% by misting daily; house iguanas separately
Substrate - Use pelleted or mulch-type substrate; iguanas may eat their substrate, if they do, switch to something they cannot eat, like paper or cage carpet, or an edible substrate.
Temperature - Temperature gradient (100 degrees F. for the warm end and 70 degrees F. for the cool end); use an incandescent light or ceramic heater as primary heat source
Lighting - Provide needed UVB rays with full spectrum fluorescent light for 10 to 12 hours a day; incandescent bulb is needed for basking area if not using a ceramic heater
Water - Provide a constant supply of clean, fresh, filtered, chlorine-free water in a shallow bowl that cannot be tipped over
Normal Behavior and Interaction:
Iguanas may become tame with daily handling; offer food to hatchlings and juveniles from your hand and then begin handling once the iguana is comfortable being handfed. Never pair iguanas in the same habitat; males may become territorial. Iguanas bob their head as a means of communication; healthy iguanas sneeze to rid their bodies of excess salts. Never grab iguanas by their tail; they may detach their tail if grabbed from behind
- Appropriate size habitat with secure lid
- Vitamin/mineral supplement
- Substrate and misting bottle
- Undertank heater
- Incandescent light or ceramic heater
- Habitat with secure lid
- Hiding area and basking log
- Full spectrum fluorescent light 0 Water and food bowls
- Book about iguanas
- Thermometer and humidity gauge
Habitat - Provide clean water and clean up any feces daily. Mist your iguana several times each day
Maintenance - Thoroughly clean the tank at least once a week: set iguana in a secure habitat; scrub the tank and furnishings with a 3% bleach solution; rinse thoroughly with water, removing all smell of bleach; dry the tank and furnishings; and add clean substrate
Grooming and Hygiene:
Always wash your hands before and after touching your iguana or habitat contents to help prevent Salmonella and other infectious diseases. Iguanas regularly shed their skin; ensure humidity of habitat is appropriate to allow proper shedding; to facilitate shedding, bathe in a large container or tub that allows the iguana to immerse entire body
Signs of a Healthy Pet:
Common Health Issues and Red Flags:
- Active and alert
- Healthy skin
- Clear eyes
- Eats regularly
- Clear nose and vent
- Body and tail are rounded and full
- Mucus in mouth or nose
- Labored breathing
- Paralysis of limbs or tail
- Abnormal feces
- Bumps, sores or abrasions on skin
- Weight loss or decreased appetite
If you notice any of these signs, please contact your exotic animal veterinarian.
As with all pets in this category, it is important that you find a veterinarian that practices in EXOTICS – this is critical. The typical small animal practitioner may not have sufficient knowledge in this area. Even this guide is general in nature and should not be used to diagnose your pet.