Is this exotic reptile right for your family?
Learn how to raise an iguana, and you’ll enjoy keeping this popular lizard healthy and happy. Iguanas are unusual pets and cannot simply be raised the way you would a dog or cat. Iguanas need specific care, but with that care, you can enjoy healthy years of fun and companionship. Consider this basic iguana care primer.
Environment. Iguanas are cold-blooded creatures. That doesn’t mean they’re unfriendly. It means they need warmth from an outside source or their bodies shut down. Iguanas bask in the sun’s warmth during the day, when in the wild. In captivity, the lizard will require exposure to natural sun and special lights set at about 85 or 90 degrees with a timer that offers 12 hours of artificial sunlight.
Nourishment. Iguanas don’t require live food like some snakes. Iguanas are easy to feed, as they are vegetarians. Leafy greens like mustard greens, turnip greens, spinach and collard greens are perfect for your iguana. Remember to chop the greens fine before offering them to the iguana.
Water. Iguanas live near water when in the wild. This close relationship to water is key in caring for your iguana. Provide access to clean, fresh water for drinking and bathing. Fill the bathtub with room temperature water to about half full. Your iguana will love it and bathe and swim around for hours. A bath is also great for eliminating excess bacteria that can build up on the iguana and under his nails and scales, which could lead to illness.
Bedding. The iguana should be kept in a large, comfortable cage. The iguana doesn’t require bedding, but rather a cage lining of paper towels or newspaper. Kitty litter, wood shavings or bark are not good because the iguana could eat them and become ill.
Health care. Your iguana needs medical care and inoculations like any other pet. Be sure that your iguana has regular annual checkups. Should your iguana appear unwell, be limp, lethargic or have bumps on his body, this could be the sign of serious disease. According to Healthy Pet, iguanas are susceptible to the fatal disease called metabolic bone disease. Iguanas can also develop abscesses, diseases of the toes, stomatitis and parasites. These are all conditions that require medical care from your veterinarian.
Iguanas and other pets. It is common for iguana owners to have more than one type of pet. Iguanas can get along with people and pets very well; however, there are considerations. All iguanas are different. How well your iguana will get along with others depends upon the iguana’s temperament, other pets’ personalities and how people handle the iguana. Don’t force or rush relationships. Respectful understanding is the best bet for a happy iguana household.