The iguana has become a very popular pet but few people are aware of the difficulty of caring for them. Iguanas are very expensive to care for. They require a very large cage, a varied and fresh diet, proper temperatures, and UV lighting. They can grow up to four to six feet long. Adult iguana's can become very aggressive. Learn iguana care for the green iguana or common iguana.
An green iguana requires at least 2-3 hours of direct UV light a day. If they do not receive this light through direct sunshine, they must receive it through artificial UV-B lights. Direct sunshine means direct, not through glass. Iguanas that do not receive UV lighting will suffer from MBD (metabolic bone disease). Without UV light iguanas will also have off-colored skin, shedding problems, and appetite problems. If artificial UV-B is used the iguana will need a full day’s lighting. A full day’s worth of lighting is a twelve-hour light cycle. The UV-B tubes must be no further than 18” away from the iguana for the iguana to receive the UV effect from the light.
The reason why UV light is so important to the iguana is that the UV light triggers the release of vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is the vitamin that allows the absorption of calcium. Iguanas cannot utilize dietary D3; in fact, it can be harmful. They must receive it from UV radiation.
Heat and maintaining the proper heat gradients is very crucial to the common iguana. The iguana in its natural environment can control his internal temperature by simply going from hot to cool and each gradient in-between. You must supply the same gradients in the iguana’s cage. The gradients will go from top to bottom 70 degrees to no more than 95 degrees. The iguana needs a minimum temperature of 85 degrees to digest his food.
To obtain the proper temperature a space heater is needed. A simple ceramic space heater will work as long as it has an internal thermostat. Make sure the iguana can’t reach the heater he could become severely injured.
A basking spot is required on the top gradient of the cage. The basking temperature should be 95 degrees. To reach these temperatures use two 75-watt bulbs. Hang these lights so that the iguana can never reach them. Iguanas can jump. As an added precaution, place a wire guard around the light bulbs. Hot rocks have hot spots and should not be use for an iguana. Any means of heating the iguana from the underside of his body will not work. Iguanas naturally bask in the sun in trees. The veins in the iguana’s body run mainly through his back. The sun heats these veins and the veins heat the iguana’s body.
At nighttime, the iguana will need a full 12 hours of darkness. The temperature at nighttime should not go below 70 degrees. The ceramic space heater will work the best at night to maintain proper temperatures.
Iguana’s are herbivores .An iguana needs a leafy green diet that is high in calcium. Serve the iguana no less than eight different leafy greens a day. These greens can be supplemented with fruits twice a week. The food should be discarded so that it does not spoil. The iguana depends on temperature to digest, it is best to feed his main meal early in the day. Let him eat his fill. When he can eat no more remove the food.
Provide a bowl of nice fresh water with no chlorine. You will want to provide a bowl that won’t tip over. Be sure his water bowl and other accessories are cleaned regularly. Much of the moisture the iguana requires will come from the vegetables and fruit. Like a parrot they need a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. The vegetables and fruits listed below are high in calcium and suggestions.
Greens (High in Calcium)
Chinese cabbage (pak-choi)
Chinese cabbage (pe-tsai)
Dandelion greens with flowers
Fruits (High in Calcium)
Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)
Metabolic Bone Disease is a horrendous disease that is cause by lack of calcium or the iguana is unable to utilize calcium. Another words MBD is caused by calcium deficiency. MBD is also caused by the improper ratio of calcium and phosphorus. The proper ratio of calcium and phosphorus is 2 to 1. The symptoms of MBD are swollen limbs and jaw, rubbery bones, brittle bones, recessed jaw, lethargy, and death.
The cause of MBD is improper UV radiation, diet too low in calcium or too high in phosphorus. MBD can also be caused by too low of temperature so that the iguana cannot digest his food.
A baby iguana needs a cage that is at least 40 gallons or larger. Adult iguanas can grow up to 6 feet in length. As the iguana grows, he will need a larger cage. An adult will need a cage that is at least 8-feet tall and 12-feet wide, or larger. The cage can be built out of wood. The top should be made out of wood so that the cage will not lose heat. The front side of the cage should be made out of glass, acrylic, or Plexiglas. The front can be made out of any transparent material that is strong. Several levels should be built into the cage. Each level will be a different temperature. The bottom temperature should be 70 degrees, second level 85 degrees, and the top 95 degrees. Three layers are necessary but more layers are better.
A nice clean pond in their cage will be much appreciated by the iguana. The iguana enjoys swimming and floating. The water helps with shedding and the iguana’s overall health. The temperature of the water should be around 85 degrees. Make sure it is clean fresh water with no chlorine or other additives. Change the water often. Hygiene helps your pet to remain healthy.
Purchasing a Healthy Iguana
Purchase an Iguana from a reputable breeder or pet store. Make sure the iguana's general appearance is healthy. Make sure his skin is clear. Make sure his vent and belly is free of dried feces and urine. Make sure his limbs are strong. Look for mites by looking for black, dark reddish brown or bright orange dots. Look for swelling in the limbs and joints. Make sure the eyes are bright and clear. Check the nose for wet or dried mucous.
Be prepared for your iguana before you purchase him. Remember that baby iguana is cute and little but the green iguana can grow to six feet and bigger. Though in my opinion I think they are still cute. Adult iguanas can become aggressive. Feeding and housing an iguana can be very expensive. Please give purchasing an iguana serious consideration. Many iguanas have suffered excruciating deaths and agonizing existences because of improper care. Learn all there is about iguana care. Many have been abandoned or set free – this is a domesticated pet and he or she won’t do well in the wild. Above all else enjoy your pet iguana.
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