Are you interested in having an iguana as a pet or do you already have it and want to know how to take better care of it? In this article I will give you some basic tips so you can take better care of your pet.
Tips before choosing to have an iguana as a pet
One thing that potential iguana keepers do not know is the size that these animals can reach.Normally, when you go to your trusted pet store you see baby or young iguanas a few centimeters long.
However, depending on the sex and the species, your iguana can become an incredible dinosaur up to 1.8 meters long . This means that your pet will almost need a room to live in your house!
There are also a number of differences between males and females. The females tend to be somewhat smaller, reaching about 1.6 meters long, while the males have a much more prominent ridge.
Basic concepts to take care of an iguana
If you have already decided to have your own Jurassic Park at home, the time has come to explain some basic things about your care.
As I said before, the iguanas can reach up to 1.8 meters long. With this size, they can weigh approximately 15 kg and live up to 20 years . This requires a series of commitments on our part, since it is not the same to take care of a small hamster than of an animal of this size.
Due to its size and weight, your iguana will need a very large place to live. Ideally, have your own terrarium and that is appropriate to the size that will reach when adult. Of course, it is very important that the iguana is the last thing that comes into the house. First, prepare everything you need to take care of it as it deserves.
In addition, since they are cold-blooded animals, they require a permanent source of heat and a source of ultraviolet light . You will need to equip your terrarium with an incandescent lamp or solar light that provides heat and maintains the temperature around 25 to 30ºC. In addition, you will also need a UV lamp (UVA and UVB) that benefits your bones and prevents them from becoming brittle or malformed.
What is the temperament of an iguana?
In addition to its famous prehistoric looks, iguanas are known for their captivating personalities. When you interact a lot with them, they can become very attached to their owners and find their company. They can even follow their owners as if they were a
However, it is not easy for your iguana to have this attitude with you. To achieve this it is necessary that you obtain it at a very early age and socialize it as if it were a puppy. You’ll have to get used to being with all kinds of people, including children and the elderly. And most importantly, enjoy your companies. As a result, you will have a friendly reptile that does not bite, something really important since its bites
Another very important factor that you must take into account is the risk of contracting salmonellosis. Like many other reptiles, iguanas can carry the salmonella virus. Your iguana is not sick, it simply excretes a bacterium that poses a risk to the health of people.
For this, having good personal hygiene is very important. It will be necessary to wash your hands very well after handling it. In addition, if you are a person with a weak immune system, such as those with babies, very old elderly people or people receiving chemotherapy, it is best to avoid having an iguana as a pet.
The perfect terrarium for your iguana
Iguanas are small animals when they are babies but grow a lot until they become adults. A good idea is to keep in mind to change the size of the terrarium as your iguana grows.
This is because the baby iguanas can have problems when looking for food in a giant terrarium designed for an adult iguana. The perfect size for your iguana’s terrarium must be twice as long as the length of your iguana (from the nose to the tip of the tail), and as long as your iguana is .This means that if your iguana is almost 2 meters long, its terrarium should be 4 meters long and 2 meters wide.
Also, remember that iguanas are arboreal animals (they live in trees). This means that your terrarium must also be high enough to be able to put branches and decorative elements that allow you to climb and rest . With these 3 clear measures, you will realize that your iguana’s terrarium will be in its adult stage the size of a closet!
On the other hand, the bottom of the earth is a controversial issue. Small iguanas have a bad habit of eating things they should not, so you must be careful not to drop anything inside the terrarium or to put anything that is harmful to your health.
The idea is to invest in special carpets for iguanas. They are very resistant and last a long time, but you will need two to exchange them when you go to wash them. Do not use rugs, barks or other unspecialized things, as they can bite, eat them or even cause scratches and scratches.
It is also very important that you include climbing elements for your iguana to exercise, such as branches. Your pet will feel very comfortable in them and you will love it as it looks at you while it is perched on them.
Always take care of the temperature of the terrarium
An iguana in a cold climate quickly becomes a sick iguana . Iguanas need constant heat to survive, as well as sunlight and ultraviolet light. The temperature of the terrarium needs to be close to 30ºC during the day and close to 25ºC at night. In addition, the baby iguanas need even more heat, and when the night comes you will have to turn off all the lights so that your iguana adapts and has its sleep cycle.
On the other hand, you must provide a source of sunlight, usually at the top of the terrarium and that illuminates the branches. Ultraviolet light is also very important for the health of iguanas, as they keep bones strong and healthy. Of course, you will have to change the ultraviolet light lamp every 6 months , since they lose effectiveness and stop providing enough light.
Humidity and water are very important for the health of your iguana
The iguanas come from the tropical jungles of South America, which are warm and humid. To imitate this in your terrarium, you will need to reach a humidity of 80% . This can be really complicated, so most caregivers choose to put a large bowl of water and close the terrarium so that the water evaporates and creates moisture. Of course, you will need to fill the bowl every time the water evaporates in a continuous cycle.
A good tip is to put two bowls of water in the terrarium. One as wide and with less possible bottom, as if it were a tray, with the objective that the water evaporates quickly. And another smaller one with more depth so that the iguana can drink water. Although iguanas often get water from their food, it is always advisable to leave a bowl of water in case.
In addition, iguanas often bathe and defecate in the water, so you will have to change them regularly.
What is the most suitable food for iguanas
Iguanas are vegetarian reptiles. Some novice caretakers make the mistake of believing that because they are reptiles they can give them meat or cat food. Big mistake! Do not you remember Jurassic Park? There are vegetarian reptiles!
Feeding an iguana with meat causes an excess of proteins in your body, which increases the functioning of your kidneys to such an extent that you can cause kidney failure. So forget to give the meat, insects or feed for cats or ferrets .
The ideal diet of iguanas should be based on fresh and raw vegetables, along with fruits once a week . The most suitable for this type of reptile are kale, dandelions, turnips, green beans and yellow pumpkins.
You can also find more specialized foods equals in the market. Just make sure that the ingredients do not include proteins of animal origin. If you have this type of protein, put the product back on the shelf. In addition, you will have to take into account that adult iguanas can withstand dry foods better than young ones, so you may need to moisten dry food.
In any case, if you are going to feed your iguana with these types of dry foods, you will need if or if you leave a bowl of clean, fresh water to prevent dehydration.
On the other hand, some vegetables such as spinach or carrots contain phytates and oxalates that impede the digestion of calcium. This causes calcium deficits in your pet’s diet, which weakens his bones and can lead to serious health problems.
The best thing you can do is provide calcium powder as a food supplement with your pet’s diet. This is simply dropped on the food and your iguana will eat it.
Also, you have to keep in mind that iguanas tend not to chew food, especially young ones. For this, I recommend that you cut into small pieces the fruits and vegetables to prevent choking.
Health problems in iguanas
The greatest cause of premature deaths in iguanas is due to poor care . There are many causes, such as poor diet, poor hygiene, inadequate temperature, calcium deficits, ultraviolet light deficits … 90% of cases are due to bad actions carried out by man.
Watch your iguana not suffer burns
The iguanas hardly feel heat in their belly, but in other parts of their body. You must be careful if you use thermal blankets to give heat and avoid installing the thermal light too close to where your iguana can reach.
You must have a lot of dedication to take care of an iguana
As final words, I will add that caring for an iguana requires constant commitment on your part. They live for 20 years, so you must commit yourself during all this time, attending to the details and providing the space you need to live.
If you do not have the certainty that you can take care of her during all this time and in these conditions, do not obtain a pet of this type.