A Good Guide to Iguanas

Filed Under: Reptiles, General Care, Iguanas

Iguanas are a very popular reptile pet. With very gradual introduction to handling, a young iguana can adapt well to human contact. Iguanas are fascinating to watch and, as a somewhat low-maintenance pet, they are popular with people who may not have the time or space to dedicate to a larger, more demanding animal. But that’s not to say that iguanas don’t need their share of care. A happy iguana is well-fed, well-housed and healthy.

As herbivores, iguanas will eat vegetables and fruits, flowers, leaves and sometimes hay, but fresh vegetables should make up a majority of their diet. A protein supplement, in the form of a wet chow, may be added to your iguana’s diet. Iguanas are true vegetarians, so they never eat any meat or animal protein—this includes insects! Green-leaf and nutrition-dense vegetables such as kale, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots should be readily available. However, due to the heating systems required to keep an iguana’s temperature up, be careful to watch for food spoilage.

Iguanas are ectothermic—they regulate their body temperature according to the temperature of the environment surrounding them. This is typically thought of as being "cold-blooded." Your iguana should have a range of temperatures in his living space. A too-hot or too-cold allover temperature will make him very uncomfortable. One end of the enclosure heated will be enough, either through heat tape or a heat lamp placed outside the living area. A heat lamp or bulb that’s too close to the terrarium may cause burns. Place a thermometer inside the iguana’s house to maintain an average temperature of 75-80 degrees. The hottest area of the living space should be about 90 degrees. Fluorescent black lights or mercury vapor bulbs in the terrarium will provide UV light for your iguana. Without this UV exposure, an iguana can develop metabolic bone disease, in addition to weak bones and other health problems.

Any 30-50 gallon glass aquarium—or terrarium of equal size—will make a good home for your iguana, preferably one with a screen top to help aerate the living area. Iguanas need variety in their living space: branches and rocks for climbing, a pool of water for soaking, moss, sand or wood chips for bedding. There should be a decent level of humidity in the area to assure proper skin shedding. Be sure to keep your iguana’s home clean.

Topics: adoption

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