Guide to Keeping an Iguana as Pet

green iguana on brown wooden table

Iguanas are one of the most famous specie of lizards to have ever been domesticated as pets. There’s a myriad of online sources of information for available to current iguana owners and potential owners.

However in recent times, the popularity of these lizards as pets have been decreasing.

The iguana belongs to a genus of herbivorous lizards. These reptiles can be found in the tropical areas of Mexico which is their native home. You can also find iguanas in the Caribbean, central and South America.

The most common type of iguana is the green one known as iguana iguana.

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Lifespan of an iguana

It is difficult to guess how long iguanas live in the wild but when in captivity as pets, they can live as long as 10 to 12 years. It is also not rare for an iguana in captivity to live as long as 20 years.


When in captivity, a green iguana that is properly cared for and healthy can grow to become very large. Healthy green iguanas can grow up to 7 feet in length and weigh up to 20 pounds.

Caring for an iguana

When it comes to housing and feeding requirements, iguanas can be quite demanding especially because they can grow to become very large, they are really strong animals, and they have a long life span.

Iguanas can be very difficult to tame and they become aggressive if you do not handle them often. Taking care of an iguana is a huge commitment and it requires a high level of care.

That doesn’t mean that iguanas do not make good pets, the point is that owners need to handle them properly from the onset and also have realistic expectations from These reptiles.

Many people who are new to keeping reptiles are unaware of his large their animal can grow to become, how strong they can be, the kind of foods needed to help their reptile stay healthy and the financial commitment they would be making if they must keep their reptile for a long time.

As more people become aware of these requirements and how caring for an iguana is a long term commitment, the popularity of this reptile as a pet has drastically reduced over the last two decades.

Temperament and behavior of an iguana

Iguanas as one of the most complicated animals in the reptile family. Iguanas in captivity need to be picked up and held for the purpose of taming.

Handling may pose a problem because human contact isn’t a natural thing to the reptile thus your iguana might resist. Baby iguanas might exhibit some amount of speed but when they grow older they become quite slow and docile animals.

When let out of their cage, some iguanas love to climb so they might want to climb on their owner. For this reason it is essential you put on protective clothing as their nails can grow quite long and sharp.

It is almost impossible to domesticate an iguana, they may never recognise you as their owner and they will always make moves to escape if they are allowed to leave their cage.

In addition, a large iguana can cause plenty of damage with its strong tail. The tail of an iguana is strong enough to break a human bone which is you have to handle them with care and make sure to keep them away from young children and protect other smaller animals from them.

Housing your iguana

When iguana are measured from mouth to tail, a fully growth iguana can measure as long as seven feet in length and weigh as much as twenty pounds which is a lot larger than most people assume iguanas can grow.

Therefore, if your are planning on firing an aquarium or a small reptile enclosure for your iguana, you must bear in mind that it’s a very temporary accommodation. The best bet for a home for your iguana is a big room, a custom built enclosure, or a very large closet where they can be comfortable and get enough warmth.

Large enclosure would also mean providing a lot of lights for your reptile. You need to provide appropriate basking areas and temperature for your pet for at least 10 to twelve hours daily.

Because the iguana is a tropical animal, it wants to bask in a temperature of 95 F. It is also important that the temperature of whatever you will be housing your iguana never drops below 75 F. To maintain this temperature you can use heat lamps instead of hot rocks.

For larger enclosure or rooms, mercury valor bulbs would be nice. Four a juvenile enclosure you can also try compact fluorescent lights or tubes.

Iguanas want to climb add providing shelves and large branches will encourage climbing activities so that your reptile can get close enough to the lights and bask in the warmth.

Food and water

The key to a healthy iguana is nothing but fresh foods. Before now, iguana owners would food their pet with cat foods so it can grow larger at a very fast rate but they discovered that this practice caused the reptile to suffer kidney failure and sorted their life span because if the protein.

Iguanas are natural herbivores which is why they should never be exposed to animal protein. If an iguana in the wild ended eats an insect it must be mistakenly so it isn’t right to attempt giving them any kind of animal protein for consumption.

Fred your iguana with some fruits, dark leafy greens, and calcium supplements. However the calcium supplements and fruits should only be added to your reptile’s food once a week.

Completely avoid foods that are high in protein with your iguana. You may also need to measure its blood chemistry to be sure it’s getting enough nutrients especially calcium.

Iguanas require fresh water during and between feeding. They also need a temperature of around 85 F to help their food digest properly.

Common health problems of iguanas

Just like many other pretty reptiles, it has been discovered that iguanas very salmonella which means it is there in their digestive tract but isn’t causing any disease.

Making sure to follow some simple common sense practices when handling this reptile can help an owner stay safe from getting infected by salmonella.

However, in a case where immunocompromised people, pregnant women, children, and aged people are present, make sure they avoid contact with the iguana so that they do not have to deal with salmonella infections.

If you have any of the aforementioned people in your home and your are considering getting an iguana that will live in the house, you may have to opt for another kind of pet as you will be putting your family in danger.

When an iguana is frightened of extremely scared their tail may fall off. And even though the tail will grow back, the chances that it would look as beautiful as the original one, or even grow large is very slim.

The rules differ according to country so the best bet you have is to consult with an exotics or go through your local laws to find out if owning a pet iguana is legal.

Buying an iguana is not an endeavor that should be taken lightly as there is so much that must be put into consideration.

Never forget that iguanas grow very large and they live for a long time which means you have to be ready for whatever financial commitment will be involved in caring for them throughout their lives in your custody.

Purchasing your first iguana

Do not be fooled by the small sizes of iguanas you see in pet stores and the lies they might tell you to make you believe it will remain that size throughout its life.

While many stores sell baby iguanas, bear in mind that these reptiles will grow to become large very quickly.

Make sure to search for a reputable pet shop where you will be provided with all the genuine information on the growth rate and the commitments involved in caring for an iguana.

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