How To Take Care of Iguanas: Iguana Care Tips

Two young iguanas

Iguanas can make phenomenal pets. While you won’t be required to give them long walks outside and potty training will not be an issue that gets you out of bed at 3 a.m., there are other things you will need to know to be a responsible iguana owner.

The three major care areas are going to be iguana food, shelter, and taking care of their physical needs. With proper, attentive care, your pet iguanas may even live up to 20 years.

When you bring your new pet home, you will need some supplies, such as iguana food and more, which will be listed below in the care directions. 

  1. The housing situation. Most iguanas live out their happy lives in a terrarium. When purchasing a terrarium for your pet you should make sure that it will be big enough to give your pet room to move and comfortably fit any supplies that need to be placed in the cage with him. You would not want to sit in a small confined space for the remainder of your life, so do not assume that your iguana wants this kind of treatment either. Bear in mind that the cute little baby iguanas grow into quite large lizards. You need to place things on the floor of the terrarium to cover the bottom of the glass. Whatever you place down there will have to be washed or replaced on a regular basis. Iguana feces should be removed daily. Make sure that, whatever you choose to place on the floor of the terrarium, it cannot be eaten by your iguana.
  2. Let the sun shine in. Iguanas love the sunlight, so you are going to want to make sure that you do not deprive your new family friend. One of an iguana’s favorite activities is to climb on logs and enjoy the shining sun. If your tank is not in an area with lots of sunlight, you may want to move it. If moving it is not an option, you can purchase an artificial light source from the pet store. Talk to your vet about purchasing an artificial UV light anyway, since iguanas benefit from exposure to ultraviolet B. You can also purchase logs and wood for your iguana to climb on.
  3. Dinner-time needs. Iguanas love greens of almost any kind. Some of the most popular options you should give them include bok choy, cilantro, collard greens, alfalfa, dandelion greens, kale, mustard greens and turnips. Fruits and vegetables can also be a good option for these pets. Many iguanas like carrots and apples. Some even like sweet peppers. Plenty of fresh water is going to be necessary and you may want to add in a weekly calcium dose to make sure that your iguana remains in optimum health.Nail issues. The nails on an iguana have a tendency to get very long. The longer they get, the more chance you will have of getting scratched. The best remedy is to supply rough bark for your iguana so that, as they play with the bark, it will continually wear their nails down to a manageable angle.
  4. Know how to hold them. You want to be careful holding your iguana. Not only do they have sharp nails, but as they grow they learn to use their tails as weapons. When you are hit you will learn quickly you do not want to be hit again. A good way to hold them is by holding them firmly on the back and keeping them close to your body. Some people recommend wrapping your forearm in a towel and sitting the iguana on the towel. You want to make sure that the head of the iguana faces you. This way, if the tail is used as a weapon, it will be more likely to swing away from you rather than into you. It is important that you provide your iguana with a socially-stimulating environment at a young age, as opposed to one in which she has no human contact. That is not to suggest a noisy, stressful living situation. Give your iguana a healthy place where she has regular human contact, and she will reward you by being more sociable in maturity.
  5. Know their medical needs.  The iguana is not an easy pet to care for. In fact, many iguanas fall ill from inappropriate care by clueless owners. The typical lifespan of an iguana is 10 years. However, without the proper care, an iguana’s life can be significantly shorted. You should keep the following facts in mind before deciding to purchase one of these animals:
  • Your iguana’s environment must mimic his natural environment as closely as possible. This means they need wide tanks that are free of sharp edges. The temperature within their tank should mimic the tropical environment of the rainforest, which means somewhere around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The tank should have numerous tree branches and the iguana should always have access to fresh water and food.
  • Iguanas need to be bathed in warm water on a frequent basis. Excess moisture is excellent for their skin. It also helps them maintain regularity when it comes to elimination of wastes.
  • Iguanas need exercise, which could come in the form of bathing or getting out of their tank and stretching their legs.
  • Iguanas are prone to metabolic bone disease, paralysis of the rear legs, nose abrasions, thermal injuries, skin infections, dry gangrene infections, abcessation, mouth rot, internal and external parasites, egg binding, and bladder stones. Regular veterinary visits should be scheduled with a vet that has experience with iguanas. The vet should not only do a thorough physical of your iguana, but blood work and stool samples should be taken to ensure your iguana is healthy.
  • Iguanas have been known to carry and spread salmonella. For some, the risk of getting seriously ill from salmonella poisoning is too great. If you wish to own an iguana, you need to make sure you always wash your hands with soap after handling your pet. You should also avoid letting children touch or play with your iguana unattended.


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