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The Complete Guide to Iguana Care

If you’re considering owning an iguana as a pet, it’s essential to know how to properly care for them. Iguanas are fascinating creatures, but they have specific requirements to keep them healthy and happy. This guide will provide you with all the information you need to know about iguana care, including habitat, diet, and general care.

Habitat

Iguana care

Iguanas require a specific environment to thrive. Here are some essential elements to include in their habitat:

Size

Iguanas can grow up to six feet long, so they need a large habitat to move around freely. The minimum size for a single iguana should be at least 6 feet long by 3 feet wide by 6 feet tall. If you have more than one iguana, you’ll need a larger enclosure.

Lighting

Iguanas need full-spectrum lighting to thrive. A UVB bulb is necessary to provide them with vitamin D3, which is crucial for their health. Make sure the bulb is positioned to cover most of the habitat, and replace it every six months.

Heating

Iguanas require a basking area that reaches a temperature of 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a basking bulb or a ceramic heater to achieve this temperature. The rest of the habitat should be around 80-85 degrees during the day and 70-75 degrees at night.

Substrate

The substrate is the material that lines the bottom of the habitat. Use something that’s easy to clean and won’t cause impaction if ingested. Some options include newspaper, reptile carpet, or paper towels.

Furniture

Iguanas love to climb, so provide plenty of branches, logs, and rocks in their habitat. Make sure they’re sturdy enough to support the iguana’s weight.

Humidity

Iguanas require a humidity level of 60-80% in their habitat. You can achieve this by misting their habitat with water, adding a humidifier, or placing a shallow dish of water in the habitat.

Cleaning

Clean the habitat daily by removing any feces, uneaten food, or debris. Once a month, deep clean the entire habitat with a reptile-safe cleaner and replace the substrate.

Space

Provide plenty of space for your iguana to move around and explore. They need room to climb, bask, and hide.

Hiding Spots

Iguanas enjoy having hiding spots in their habitat, such as a hollow log or a rock cave. This gives them a sense of security and helps reduce stress.

Diet

Iguanas are herbivores, which means they only eat plants. Here’s a list of some of the foods you can offer your iguana:

Greens

Lizard

Dark leafy greens like kale, collard greens, and mustard greens should make up the bulk of your iguana’s diet.

Vegetables

Iguanas also enjoy vegetables like carrots, squash, and bell peppers.

Fruits

While iguanas can eat fruits, they should be given in moderation due to their high sugar content. Offer fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and papaya as an occasional treat.

Supplements

Iguanas require calcium and vitamin D3 supplements to maintain healthy bones. Dust their food with calcium powder at every feeding and use a vitamin D3 supplement a few times a week.

Calcium to Phosphorus Ratio

The ideal calcium to phosphorus ratio in an iguana’s diet is 2:1. Avoid feeding them foods high in phosphorus, such as spinach or broccoli, as they can lead to bone problems.

Gut Loading

Before feeding your iguana insects, such as crickets or mealworms, “gut load” them with a nutritious diet. This ensures that your iguana is receiving the necessary nutrients.

Water

In addition to offering fresh water, you can also provide your iguana with a water source for hydration and soaking. A shallow water dish or a small pool can be added to their habitat.

General Care

Here are some tips for general iguana care:

Handling

Iguanas can be skittish and easily stressed, so handle them with care. Support their entire body when picking them up, and never grab them by the tail.

Hydration

Iguanas require fresh, clean water at all times. You can offer it in a shallow dish or a water bottle.

Shedding

Iguanas shed their skin periodically, which is a natural process. Provide a shedding box filled with damp moss or paper towels to help them shed.

Health

Watch for signs of illness, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or abnormal behavior. Take your iguana to a reptile veterinarian if you suspect they’re sick.

Taming

Iguanas can be tamed, but it takes patience and time. Start by offering them food by hand, and gradually work up to handling them.

Socialization

Iguanas are social animals and benefit from interacting with their owners. Spend time with them daily, offer them treats, and talk to them.

Sexing

It’s difficult to determine the sex of an iguana until they reach sexual maturity, which is around two to three years old. Male iguanas have larger femoral pores, and their hemipenal bulges are more noticeable than females.

Lifespan

Iguanas can live up to 20 years or more with proper care. Be prepared for the long-term commitment of owning an iguana.

Conclusion

Owning an iguana can be a rewarding experience, but it’s essential to provide them with the proper care. Make sure their habitat includes the necessary elements, feed them a balanced diet, and monitor their health. With proper care, your iguana can live a long and healthy life.