Care of Green Iguanas for Beginners
Iguana Care Sheet
Before you purchase a little 9 inch baby iguana at the pet shop, realize that the cute little lizard will grow into a cute giant lizard 4 to 6 feet in length. Will you be able to house it when it is full grown? When they are hatchlings a 10-20 gal tank is fine. At 2 ft a 30 gal tank will work. Over 2 ft and I would go with the largest tank you can find, and altered closet, or a custom built cage at least twice as tall as the lizard is long (they are arboreal and thus avid climbers). For substrate use turf or reptile wood chips. Provide sturdy branches for them to climb on and fake plants as decoration (no real plants as the iguanas might eat them).
A large water bowl is necessary for the iguana to bathe in. It will also help maintain humidity. Change the water everyday.
The temperature in the enclosureshould not fall below 75°F. 78° is ideal. An under-tank heater may be used to provide this. There should be a temperature gradient across the tank, with a heat lamp over one area to form a hot spot during the day.
Iguanas are diurnal (active in the day) and thus require ultraviolet light. If they don't have this they can develop bone problems. A "black light" works perfectly.
Iguanas are herbivorous (young ones may eat some insects to support their growth), so their diet should consist of fruits and vegetables. Feed mostly vegetables: collard greens, grated carrot, chopped squash, mesclun mix, dandelion greens, etc. Avoid excessive spinach, kale, iceberg lettuce, cabbage, and broccoli. Chop the food up and mix it together so the iguana can't just pick out it's favorites. You may also supplement with prepared iguana diets (moisten the dry one to make them more palatable). Dust the food of juveniles with calcium powder like Reptical.
Iguanas have sharp claws that should be trimmed (in tame individuals), and long tails that they use as whips. They may also bite. You should handle young ones often so they become tame. There are special harnesses with leashes you can put on your iguana when you take them out for exercise.
For more information on the reptile/amphibian hobby visit The Herper linked to below.
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