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Green Iguana Basic Care

Updated on June 28, 2017
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Brittany Banks loves animals. She has experience with this type of animal and likes to share how to take care of it.

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Introduction

Green iguanas are a very interesting reptile to keep because they can grow six to seven feet long. With proper care, they can live up to 20 years or longer. They require special care, so be prepared. Before you bring your iguana home, make sure you have everything ready. Never house a different species of animal with this type of animal.

A young beautiful green iguana enjoying the outdoors.
A young beautiful green iguana enjoying the outdoors. | Source

Enclosure Requirements

Young green iguanas will do fine in a 20- 40 gallon tank, but they will out grow it in about a year. A lot of people that own this type of reptile will build their own enclosure. An adult requires an enclosure that is 12 feet long by 6 feet high by 6 feet wide. This enclosure can be built out of wood, mesh, and screws. The enclosure has to be twice the length of your green iguana to give them the space they need. You may be able to find someone that is selling an enclosure, but sometimes it is hard to find. You might be better off building your own.

You should use tiling or organic fertilizer free top soil. Impaction is a concern for most people and animals. Impaction is when an animal accidentally swallows something that will make them sick. Using tiling is great, but organic top soil holds in humidity better and it will pass through their digestive system. You can find the tiling and soil at Home Depot or your local hardware store.

Heating up a huge enclosure can be a pain, but it can be done. Always keep your lighting away from your green iguana, so he/she doesn't get burned. Place the lighting outside the enclosure on top of it. You will need at least six lights and six domes. Incandescent heating bulbs and UVA/UVB lighting should be provided. UV is needed to prevent metabolic bone disease. There will need to be a light cycle of 10 to 12 hours. You can achieve this by putting the lights on automatic timers. One side of the enclosure needs to be around 100F. Your green iguana will move around to adjust its body temperature. The cooler end of the enclosure should be around the mid 80s. Never use heat rocks, heat pads, or any heat coming from the floor. Iguanas don't realize where the heat is coming from and they can burn themselves. Night time temperatures need to be 70F to 75F. If the temperatures drop too low, you can use Ceramic Heat Emitters on thermostats. Thermostats will turn off the Ceramic Heat Emitters off if it gets too warm. Set the thermostats to 75F. To ensure the temperatures are correct, purchase a temperature gun. They require proper UVB lighting to help with the calcium supplement. When the UV hits their body, it turns into active D3 to help with their bones.

Make sure you provide a large water dish for your iguana to soak in. Young green iguanas may have issues locating their water dish, so you will need to mist him/her off daily. Soak your young green iguana once a week by placing him/her in the water dish. This is needed to prevent dehydration and to help while shedding. Adults can locate their water dish easier. In the wild, green iguanas live near water and are great swimmers. You can find a large dish at your local pet store or online. For adults, you can use a plastic child pool. Make sure it is the kind that can't be popped from the green iguana's nails. Humidity needs to be 60% to 70% with a spike or two of 100% during the day and should be around 50% at night. Use a hydrometer to check the humidity levels.

Provide large branches and fake plants. Arrange the plants in a way to provide some shade, so your green iguana has an area to cool off. Make sure the branches are placed diagonally and are study enough. You can find large branches out in the wild, but you need to make sure they are free of pesticides. Wooden shelves are a need as well. Provide shelves on each sides of the enclosure and in the middle. Build them large enough for your green iguana to rest on. Make sure the wood is sanded down and use a water resistant coating on the lower part of the enclosure. You will need to bake the branches to kill bacteria and pesticides. Bake the branches at 200F in the oven for two hours. Larger branches can be cleaned in the bath tub with diluted ammonia. Rinse them well and place in the sun to dry completely.

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Diet & Water

Iguanas are strict herbivores which means they only eat plants. Fresh food should be available at all times. Do not feed canned or processed food. Feed your iguana daily, because they do eat a lot. Feed a large meal in the morning until he/she can't eat anymore. A shallow food bowl that is heavy is good to use. Spray the prepared food while feeding. This will ensure that your green iguana is staying well hydrated. Provide a shallow drinking dish next to the food dish. After you prepare the food, sprinkle a multivitamin supplement powder on the food before serving. Organic bee pollen powder can be sprinkled on as well to enhance the taste. Only use a pinch of bee pollen on the food if you decide to use it. You can find organic bee pollen powder online. If your iguana has issues eating the food, it might be because it sees the supplements on the food. Some places do carry calcium supplement spray and you spray it in the food. It is invisible to them. The food needs to be peeled, chopped, no pits or cores, and the seeds need to be removed. Refer to the website: www.greeningsociety.org/foodchart.htm. This website will explain how to prepare each food and will provide more information.

Staple
Occasionally
Treats
Never
Acorn Squash
Apples
Dahia- Pesticide Free
Corn
Alfalfa
Asparagus
Grapes
All Lettuces (small amounts of romaine can be feed occationally)
Butternut Squash
Bananas
Hibiscus- Pesticide Free
 
Cactus Leaves
Beets
Nasturtiums- Pesticide Free
 
Chicory Greens- must be mixed with other food
Beet Greens
Raspberries
 
Collard Greens
Bell Peppers- entices feeding
Strawberries
 
Dandelion Greens
Blackberries
Whole Wheat bread
 
Kabocha Squash
Boy Choy
 
 
Turnip Greens- must be mixed with other food
Broccoli
 
 
Yucca Root
Brussel Sprouts
 
 
Endive-must be mixed with other food
Cabbage
 
 
Green Beans
Carrot
 
 
Mango
Cauliflower
 
 
Mustard Greens
Celery
 
 
Okra
Coriander
 
 
Parsnip
Cucumber
 
 
Snap Peas
Grapes
 
 
Watercress
Honeydew Melon
 
 
 
Egg Free Pasta- cooked
 
 
 
Kale
 
 
 
Cantelope
 
 
 
Kiwi
 
 
 
Lentils
 
 
 
Mushrooms
 
 
 
Parsley
 
 
 
Peaches
 
 
 
Pears
 
 
 
Pumpkin
 
 
 
Raspberries
 
 
 
Rice- Cooked
 
 
 
Rutabaga
 
 
 
Spaghetti Squash
 
 
 
Spinach
 
 
 
Strawberries
 
 
 
Sweet Potato
 
 
 
Swiss Chard
 
 
 
Tomatoes- entices feeding
 
 
 
Watermelon- entices feeding
 
 
 
Yellow Squash
 
 
 
Zucchini
 
 

Cleaning

Clean up feces and old food regularly. Food and water dishes can be cleaned using dish soap and warm water. Clean the dishes regularly as well. Everything else needs to be cleaned once a week. Nolvasan is a great product to use. Do not mix any cleaning solutions together. Diluted bleach and ammonia are also great to use. Substrate needs to be removed and replaced once a week. To sterilize use Novasan and leave it on for 30 minutes. Wash it off completely with soap and water. Let everything dry completely before returning your green iguana back to the enclosure.

Handling

Handling a young iguana will be easier than an adult, because they are less squirmy. Handle during the day in a safe room like a bathroom. Approach your iguana slowly, calmly, and gently. Talking low may help. Loosen the grip of the feet to prevent yanking the nails out. Gently lift her/him up under the belly and slowly take him/her out. Never grab an iguana by the tail. The tail will break off as a defense and might grow back.

Adults can be heavy to handle. Loosen the grip of the feet and gently lift the iguana up under the belly. Place him/her on the floor in a safe bare room, so it can get some exercise. Beware of the tail, because it can hurt if you get whipped. If you have doors at the bottom of the cage, the iguana may come out on its own. Two people may be needed to take and adult out of the enclosure, because of how big they can get. Do it calmly, gently, and slowly. Doing so will prevent the iguana from getting scared. Always wash your hands and forearms before and after.

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Information Collected From:

Facebook Groups: Reptile Connection, Reptile Enthusiasts and The Reptile Circle

"Reptiles Magazine, your source for reptile and herp care, breeding, and enthusiast articles." Reptiles Magazine. Lumina Media, LLC, 2017. Web. 26 June 2017. <http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/>.

Reptiles for Sale. Backwater Reptiles, Inc., 2017. Web. 27 June 2017. <http://www.backwaterreptiles.com/>.


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    • Whispering Night profile image

      MICKEY MOUSE 2 months ago from our World

      The 1999 movie Godzilla looked like on big Iguana. You suggest about using fake plants but I think real plants will be better. I see people with Iguana bite. I saw a photo of a woman with injuries on the cheek. I think it better not to touch their mouth. It is good for people who have a big garden. Have you heard of tuatara they are found in Newzealand and capable of living up to more than 100 years? They are not Lizards but look like one. I wish they spread all over the world.