Iguanas are the most popular pet choice from the reptile family. These cold-blooded reptiles are not easy to be taken care and, many times, they die during their “captivity”.
If you think that owning an iguana won’t cost you a lot, you’re wrong! Taking care of this pet can cost you a fairly high cost. Before you buy it, you need to make sure you can afford to provide your iguana with the appropriate heat and lighting conditions, the right food and of course, a comfortable cage, large enough to help your iguana grow normally. Below you will find the basic steps on how to take care of an iguana, if you ever make the decision to bring it home.
Step 1: Prepare your “iguana” home
You will need a large and nice cage for your pet. For a baby iguana, medium size cages bought from pet shop is usually ok but remember that iguanas grow up too fast! So, it would be better for you and more cost effective to buy from the very start a large cage. A good size for an adult iguana is 1 meter deep, 1.5-2 meters high and 1.5-2 meters long. So, an adult iguana will have room to move. Also, you need to keep in mind that there must be some levels of humidity in the cage and this is regulated by a humidifier. Another thing you need to consider before you buy an iguana is that iguanas like to climb! And that means you have to buy some branches to have in the cage.
Step 2: have the correct lightening
Iguanas need intense sunshine so that they can absorb UVB and UVA rays. UVA rays make iguanas feel happy. UVB rays, on the other hand, allow the iguana to digest its food and absorb vitamin D, which allows them to absorb the calcium they need to avoid bone disease. The best source of UVA rays is the sun and also the indoor lamps but, it is difficult to find UVB rays. Many pet stores sell special lamps designed to produce this light. It is necessary to have such a lamp and changed it every 6 months in order to keep the iguana healthy.
Step 3: have the correct temperature
It is very important for the iguanas to be in a warm environment. Don’t forget that the homeland of these animals is Central and South America and for that reason they are not ”made” to survive at low temperatures. It is therefore important to have a heat lamp for your iguana to keep it warm. The average temperature required on a daily basis is 26-35 degrees Celsius. When you put the heat lamp on your iguana, watch it to see how it reacts to it.
If you see your iguana sits under the lamp all the time, it means the lamp should be warmer, if the iguana never sits under the lamp, then it means the lamp should be cooler. Keep in mind that, the temperature at night should not fall below 24 degrees, while the day should be between 29-35 degrees. Do not allow your iguana to access the lamps, though, because it could be burn.
Step 4: Feed your iguana correctly
The iguanas are vegetarian and they eat a variety of rich leafy vegetables that help them be healthy. However, they do not eat lettuce. They also need a wide variety of other fruits and vegetables to maintain a balanced diet, including gumbo, beans, peas, green beans, zucchini and mangoes. As a treat, you can give them grapes, raspberries, strawberries or whole grain bread pieces. Of course, it would be better if you could feed them with fresh fruit and vegetables and always provide them with access to fresh and clean water.
Step 5: Think before you bring company
If you are thinking about having more than one iguana, to keep each other company, i have to tell you that it’s not a good idea! Iguanas are by nature animals that live alone and, they only approach each other when they want to mate with another iguana. So if you have more than one iguana in the same cage, not only they won’t be happy with that but they will also attack each other and this often leads to severe battles and injuries.
You should also be aware of the following:
- Keep the cage as much clean as you can, since cage cleaning is vital for disease prevention.
- Reptiles are quite sensitive, “brittle” one could say. When you leave your iguana out of its cage, make sure it is safe and no other animal will attack it, e.g. dog, cat, etc. (cats are much more aggressive to reptiles than dogs! – this is why cats kill snakes). You should also remember that iguanas like climbing!! Keep an eye on it when you leave it outside of its cage, if you don’t want to chase it to curtains or to the lights or – as it happened in my neighbor’s case – to the balcony tent!! (my balcony tent on the second floor!)
- Iguanas are sensitive to environmental changes and they may feel oppressed if this happens frequently.
- Do not have other animals in the same cage of your iguana, unless you have made a research or ask a vet whether the two animals can live together.
Take care of your iguana every day and finally you will see that once the time goes by, your pet will be less aggressive.