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So You Want An Iguana For A Pet

Updated on March 21, 2014
Iguanas are a wonderful pet to have but understand they are going to need a lot of care.
Iguanas are a wonderful pet to have but understand they are going to need a lot of care.

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So You Want An Iguana For A Pet.

First of all let me tell you that Iguanas are not an easy pet to keep and maintain. One of the biggest things a lot of people miss is the fact that an Iguana is going to grow up quite often into a very large lizard. You really need a nice large wood and screen house if you want your iguana to grow and be healthy. An aquarium is not an adequate home for a Iguana. You need a large enclosure with water and some plants if possible to provide a natural looking habitat for your Iguana. Iguanas love to get in and out of their water and play in it. I have running water in my iguana enclosure always being filtered but a shallow water dish that you can change on a regular basis will work just great.

You will want to clean your Iguanas enclosure on a regular basis. Shredded newspapers make excellent bedding for your Iguana. Its very important that your Iguana always have clean fresh water and its important that you clean your Iguana enclosure on a regular basis. And your iguana enclosure needs to be large enough to allow your iguana plenty of room to grow. And if you keep your iguana in a healthy environment with plenty of food the Iguana is going to grow. And a 3 foot grown iguana is a lot more difficult to deal with than the 18 inch iguana you picked up at the pet shop.

Many people don't realize that an iguana is going to grow as big as they do and when they get full grown they can be difficult to deal with on a regular basis. A vita-light heat lamp is perfect to use in your iguanas enclosure. You need to be sure that the heat lamp is placed in the iguana enclosure so it is not to low in the enclosure. You don't want to end up with a baked iguana.

If you provide your iguana with fresh clean water on a regular basis it will take care of keeping its self clean. Never use soap or other chemicals in its water as this can kill your iguana.

You want to feed your iguana greens like beet tops, spinach, and mustard greens and fruit like watermelon, oranges, and cantaloupe. Try to be sure that you wash your iguanas food thoroughly with running water before you feed your iguana. Do not give them iceberg lettuce.

You want to be sure to keep an eye out for iguana diseases. Unstable living conditions and poor nutrition can lead to diseases developing in your iguana. So be sure that you understand fully what to feed your iguana and that you keep its cage and water clean at all times.You should ask at your local pet shop for a good calcium supplement for your iguana and give the calcium supplement to it on a regular basis.

I can not stress enough that your heat lamp must be high enough above your iguana so it doesn't burn your iguana. Most of the diseases and injuries that happen to iguanas are quite often caused by their human owners. So you really do need to research everything possible about iguanas before you try to keep one as a pet. The more you know about iguanas the better off you and your iguana will be.

Also keep in mind that if you provide your iguana with the correct living conditions and adequate food and water it is going to grow up into a very large lizard that you may have trouble dealing with. However if you've read this far and still want an iguana then I think you now have some ideal what your iguana will need to grow and be healthy.

If you have questions or comments about iguanas please post them below now. And thanks for reading my hub page on iguanas.

A Collection Of Iguana Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Green Iguana in this photo. Green Iguana at St. ThomasAnother Green IguanaAnother Green IguanaA lesser Antillean iguana in the wild in Dominica.Cayman IguanaAn iguana at La Manzanilla, Jalisco, Mexico at an environmental reserve.
Green Iguana in this photo.
Green Iguana in this photo.
Green Iguana at St. Thomas
Green Iguana at St. Thomas
Another Green Iguana
Another Green Iguana
Another Green Iguana
Another Green Iguana
A lesser Antillean iguana in the wild in Dominica.
A lesser Antillean iguana in the wild in Dominica.
Cayman Iguana
Cayman Iguana
An iguana at La Manzanilla, Jalisco, Mexico at an environmental reserve.
An iguana at La Manzanilla, Jalisco, Mexico at an environmental reserve.

More Information About Iguanas

Iguanas are native to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean but they have now escaped into the wild and non native populations are now established in Texas, Florida, California, Arizona, and North Carolina. There is a huge population of iguanas in Florida and California.

If you study about iguanas you'll discover there are two species of iguanas. There are the green iguanas which are wide spread and also kept as pets and the iguana species native to the Lesser Antilles and now endangered due to habitat destruction.

The Green or common Iguana is usually kept as a pet due to it's calm disposition and beautiful colors. However you should know that when grown iguanas can be quite a hand full and a lot for one person to handle. Iguanas also need large enclosures and special heating and light requirements. A full grown iguana can be six and a half feet long and up to 30 pounds in weight. This is the reason that many people have turned them loose into the wild. And they are now reproducing in Florida, Texas, California, Arizona, and North Carolina. Please do not turn non native lizards and reptiles loose. If you can't find a responsible person or zoo to take them give them to a wild life officer.

Green iguanas are great climbers and in the wild they are often found in trees and on the sides of buildings. In the water green iguanas are powerful swimmers. They fold their legs up against their sides and swiftly propel themselves through the water with their powerful long tails. Believe it or not but in central America the iguana is used as a food source.

Believe it or not but if you climb up a tree to try to catch an iguana it may just jump out of the tree. Iguanas can jump 50 foot or more and they walk away unhurt. You can't do that can you.

Despite the green iguanas name they can come in a variety of colors. As amazing as it may sound baby green iguanas in central America may be bright blue until they are a year or more old and then they will slowly change to a green color.

They can use their tails in a powerful whipping like action to deliver a powerful blow if they are confronted and like other lizards if you grab a hold of their tails you may be left holding the tail while the lizard escapes. Yes after a while the lost tail will grow back.

Be warned that green iguanas have very sharp teeth and they can shred leaves and fruits and they can deliver very powerful bites to a human. Their teeth are on the inside of their jaws and this is why their teeth are hard to see especially in smaller specimens. The green iguana is a large species of lizard and the largest lizard in the iguana family.

Female iguanas lay eggs and it takes 10 - 15 weeks for the iguanas to hatch out of the eggs. Juvenile or baby iguanas will stay in a group for the first year or more of their lives. Another unusual fact about green iguanas is that males will try to protect females. They have even been seen to climb onto the backs of female iguanas to try to protect them from predators. The green iguana male is the only lizard that is know to do this.

If you scare a green iguana it will try it's best to get away. If there is water near by it will jump in the water and swim away. If you chase this lizard up a tree and try to climb up after it the green iguana will jump out of the tree and run away. If you corner an iguana it may hiss, blow up it's body and if you touch a wild one with out being careful it may bite you. And it can be a nasty bite. Older and grown iguanas also have powerful large claws that can cut you.

Iguanas most;y live on leaves, fruit, and plants. They were once thought to be vegetarian but this is not true. In the wild in Central America and Mexico they are known to eat grasshoppers, birds eggs, birds, and mice. While iguanas in Florida and on the North Carolina outer banks have been observed eating dead fish on the beach. It is also known that iguanas kept in captivity enjoy eating mice. So no iguanas are not vegetarians. You are advised to add a calcium supplement to your captive iguanas diet.

Their is a huge demand for iguanas in the United States for the pet trade and 800,000 iguanas were imported into the United States in 2001. You should know that many pet iguanas are not cared for properly and many die as a result of that. A growing or grown iguana needs a large enclosure to be healthy and happy. To live thrive and grow iguanas must have uva and uvb lights in their enclosures. With out these special lights they will die. Your pet iguana must have kale, mustard greens, collard greens, dandelion greens, and arugula greens. Iceberg lettuce will not work. They will eat it but they will only get water out of it. Your iguana will have to be kept where the temperature ranges from 79 to 91 degrees. Too cool of temperature and your iguana will get sick and die. Keep in mind if you give your iguana too much protein you can damage it's kidneys and kill it. I have one I give boiled eggs to but only a few a month as a treat. Do your own extensive research into what kind of diet you should be feeding to your iguana.

When the Spanish explorers first got to the Caribbean the iguana was an important food source for the natives living there but no longer. In Mexico the iguana is known as Mexican chicken and it is often cooked and eaten to this day in Mexico.

If you keep an iguana as a pet it needs a large enclosure, UVA and UVB lighting, a basking spot,

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Please post your questions and comments about iguanas now.

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    • Nicole Winter profile image

      Nicole A. Winter 

      7 years ago from Chicago, IL

      So, exactly how large can these beasts grow to be? I *love* reptiles and have always wanted one, but am financially incapable of caring for one, so I have never had one. Now that I probably could take care of one, I live with my SO, who, let's not mince words, is quite adverse to reptiles in any form. Also, I have heard that Iguana's can carry infectious diseases if you are scratched by them? Very helpful article, thank-you for publishing this!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      We have had many pets of all sorts but I have never owned one of these.

      I don't know if I am likely to adopt one any more but I enjoyed this hub regardless.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Take care



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